Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) introduced SB 460 this week, a measure that will require the California Department of Public Health to modify the prenatal testing program’s educational materials to include information concerning the importance of avoiding consumer products that are known to be harmful to reproductive health.
“Pregnant women should have the right to the basic information they need in order to give their children the best chance at a healthy life,” Pavley said. “Many of these exposures can be easily avoided, but only if women have the knowledge first. SB 460 will help give them that knowledge.”
This bill will benefit the tens of thousands of pregnant women who are unaware of their exposure to chemicals that can be harmful to their health and the health of their unborn children. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide testing program found 100 chemicals in pregnant women monitored. Of these, 43 were found in all of the women, including chemicals known to be harmful to reproductive health, such as lead, mercury, and organochlorine pesticides.
These chemicals have been linked to detrimental effects on the cognitive development of fetuses. For instance, an estimated one out of every 14 babies is exposed to levels of mercury exceeding the guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mercury in the womb has been tied to lower IQs and other effects on developing brains.
“We have known for a long time that prenatal chemical exposures can contribute to later-life disease,” said Gretchen Lee Salter, Senior Policy Manager with Breast Cancer Fund. “Pregnant women should have as much information as possible to protect themselves and their babies from toxic chemicals in their everyday products. We applaud Senator Pavley for her leadership and look forward to working with her this year on this important issue.”