September 26, 2012 Northwest Public Radio
RICHLAND, Wash. – Research in the Northwest is finding new evidence that a chemical used to harden plastics can damage female reproductive systems.
Researchers exposed pregnant monkeys to daily doses of bisphenol-A, also known as BPA. The chemical is found in plastics like water bottles and on cash register receipts.
Patricia Hunt is a geneticist at Washington State University. She says her study found BPA exposure caused two problems during pregnancy:
- BPA could cause birth defects and miscarriages.
- The mother’s BPA exposure was passed to the fetus. Eggs, which are formed in utero, did not develop correctly in the fetuses. That means the next generation of females could also have trouble reproducing.
Hunt says monkeys have similar reproductive systems to humans. She says that concerns her.
“We’re already a pretty vulnerable species when it comes to trying to reproduce. If these environmental effects, like bisphenol-A, actually make the problem worse, then to me it’s going to make it a lot harder for us to have babies,” Hunt says.
Hunt says this study confirmed what researchers have already found in rodents and worms.