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Fighting Toxins in the Home

Everyday materials may pose health and environmental threats
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Researchers are continually finding new evidence that common items in our kitchens, bathrooms and toy chests can make us sick. One of the most insidious substances is bisphenol A, a component of the light plastics used in baby bottles and many other consumer products. Over the past several years, scientists have reported that low levels of bisphenol A can disrupt cell division, leading to spontaneous miscarriages and birth defects such as Down syndrome.

In early 2007 a team led by Patricia A. Hunt of Washington State University found that small amounts of bisphenol A interfered with the growth of egg cells in developing female mouse embryos. As many as 40 percent of the eggs from fetuses exposed to bisphenol A had an abnormal number of chromosomes. This stunning finding showed that the chemical's effects can run through three generations: the pregnant mother's exposure damages the daughter's reproductive cells, which in turn disrupts the development of the daughter's own children.

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