Researchers claim that compounds including melamine, cyanuric acid, and aromatic amines, which can increase the risk of cancer and harm foetal development, are being exposed to pregnant women in the United States.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and UC San Francisco published the study’s findings in the journal Chemosphere. Nearly all research participants had melamine and cyanuric acid in their samples, however women of colour and those who had more smoke use had the greatest concentrations. Nearly all of the pregnant participants also had elevated levels of four aromatic amines, which are often used in goods with colours and pigments.
People can come into contact with melamine and aromatic amines through the air they breathe, contaminated food they eat, household dust they inhale, drinking water they consume, or objects they use that include plastic, dyes, or pigments.
According to Tracey J. Woodruff, PhD, a professor of obstetrics, gynaecology, and reproductive medicine and the director of the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, “These chemicals are of serious concern due to their links to cancer and developmental toxicity, yet they are not routinely monitored in the United States.” Woodruff is also a co-senior author of the study that was published on August 30, 2022, in Chemosphere.
Melamine and cyanuric acid, one of its main byproducts, are both high-production compounds that are produced at a rate of more than 100 million pounds annually in this nation alone. These substances may be more harmful when exposed combined than if either one is present alone. Aromatic amines are present in hair colour, mascara, tattoo ink, paint, cigarette smoke, and diesel exhaust. Melamine is present in dishware, plastics, flooring, kitchen countertops, and pesticides. Cyanuric acid is used as a disinfectant, plastic stabiliser, and cleaning solvent in swimming pools.
After infant formula and pet food poisoning episodes in 2004, 2007, and 2008 that resulted in numerous fatalities as well as kidney stones and urinary tract blockage in some persons, melamine was shown to be a kidney toxicant. More animal studies indicate melamine impairs brain function.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health’s Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program collected urine samples from 171 women from a small but diverse group of women and measured 45 chemicals linked to cancer and other risks using new methods to capture chemicals or chemical traces. The study’s time frame was from 2008 through 2020.
The 171 ladies were from Puerto Rico, New Hampshire, New York, Georgia, California, and Georgia. 34 percent of the population were white, 40 percent Latina, 20 percent Black, 4 percent Asian, and the other 3 percent were members of other racial or ethnic groups. Prior research on melamine was either restricted to non-pregnant Americans or pregnant women in Asian nations.
According to Jessie Buckley, PhD, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a co-senior author of the study, “It’s alarming that we continue to discover greater amounts of many of these dangerous substances among persons of colour.”
In contrast to white women, Black and Hispanic women had 3,4-dichloroaniline levels that were more than 100% higher. This chemical is used to make colours and insecticides.
Since several of these chemicals are recognised carcinogens and probable developmental toxins, the study’s first author, Giehae Choi, a postdoctoral researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, noted that the results “raise concerns for the health of pregnant women and foetuses.” It is obvious that regulatory action is necessary to reduce exposure.