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A Toxics-Free Future


Get lobbying on chemicals, doctors told by health body 

A global health organisation has called for reproductive health professionals to lobby for policies that prevent exposure to hazardous chemicals.

In an paper published today, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (Figo) said doctors need to do more than advise patients about the health risks of chemical exposure.

“We need to advocate for policies that will protect our patients and communities from the dangers of involuntary exposure to toxic chemicals,” said Jeanne A Conry, co-author and former president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Figo said: "Miscarriage and still birth, impaired foetal growth, congenital malformations, impaired or reduced neurodevelopment and cognitive function, and an increase in cancer, attention problems, ADHD behaviours and hyperactivity are among the list of poor health outcomes, linked to chemicals such as pesticides, air pollutants, plastics, solvents and more."

Figo honorary secretary and lead author of the Opinion, Gian Carlo Di Renzo, said: “We are drowning our world in untested and unsafe chemicals and the price we are paying in terms of our reproductive health is of serious concern.”

“Given accumulating evidence of adverse health impacts, related to toxic chemicals, including the potential for inter-generational harm, Figo has wisely proposed a series of recommendations that health professionals can do to reduce the burden of unsafe chemicals on patients and communities,” said Figo president, professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, who is also past president of the British Medical Association.

The paper, which was published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, was written by an international group of doctors and scientists from professional societies and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and is supported by NGOs such as Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) and Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

“Harmful exposure to toxic chemicals in the womb occurs at very low levels and the effects cannot be reversed. This is why we consider it vital that doctors, midwives and other professionals call for protection against toxic chemicals,” said Anne Barre, co-president of WECF France.

Leigh Stringer