Exposure to Carbon Monoxide Pollution in the Air May Lead to Birth Defects

Posted: 04/23/2013  browse the blog archive

A study carried out in California’s San Joaquin Valley demonstrated a possible link between high air pollution and birth defects.  The results were posted in The American Journal of Epidemiology.

Even adjusted for smoking, maternal age, multivitamin use, and other variables, researchers found that a mother living in areas with the highest levels of carbon monoxide or nitrogen oxide was almost twice as likely to give birth to a child with birth defects as one living in areas with the lowest concentration.  Exposure during the first two months of gestation seemed to carry the greatest risk.

In urban areas, carbon monoxide is chiefly released from car exhaust, but is also released from tobacco smoke and burning wood, charcoal, garbage, or other fuels.  Carbon monoxide can be released from malfunctioning gas heaters and stoves, as well as fireplaces.  Carbon monoxide has been designated a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects and other reproductive harm since July 1, 1989.

Amy Padula, a Stanford researcher and lead author of the study, said that more research was needed before they could make any clinical recommendations to pregnant women.

The Chanler Group represents citizen enforcers who, acting in the public interest, commence actions against businesses offering products for sale in California that contain chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm without first providing the health hazard warning required by Proposition 65. Citizen enforcers bringing Proposition 65 actions in the public interest may obtain a Court Judgment imposing civil penalties, an injunction requiring reformulation of products, and/or provision of health hazard warnings. The Chanler Group has represented citizen enforcers of Proposition 65 for more than twenty years.