The Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health is hosting a hearing entitled, “Toxic Chemicals and Children’s Environmental Health.” In addition to statements by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, they will also hear from Steven Marcus, a Professor of Preventative Medicine and Community Health at the New Jersey Medical School and Frederica Perara, Director of Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health.

Perara has conducted two studies that follow mothers and their children from pregnancy into childhood. Monitoring air quality and chemical exposure of women in New York, the research team found that in the Northern Manahattan cohort, phthalates, used to make plastics more flexible, were detected in 85-100 percent of air and urine samples from pregnant women. BPA, an endocrine disruptor, was found in the urine of 94 percent of pregnant women, 97 percent of 3 year olds and 100 percent of 5 year olds.

The four chemicals at the focus of her work are widely used. Phthalates are used to soften plastics and used in hairspray and perfume; BPA is used in everything from baby bottles and water bottles to receipts and canned food linings; PBDEs are a group of flame retardant chemicals applied to home furnishings, textiles and many other products. Chlorpyrifos is an organophoshate insecticide that has was phased out in home use in 2001, but is still used in agriculture.

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