Fragrance Chemicals Found in Infant Cord Blood

For Immediate Release: December 2nd, 2009 Contact: Stacy Malkan, 202-321-6963,; Stephenie Hendricks, 415-258-9151,

Fragrance Chemicals Found in Infant Cord Blood

EWG Study Found More Than 200 Synthetic Chemicals in Cord Blood of African American, Asian and Hispanic Infants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Laboratory tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Rachel’s Network have detected synthetic fragrance chemicals for the first time in the umbilical cord blood of U.S. newborns. The findings provide hard evidence that U.S. infants are contaminated with toxic chemicals used in cosmetics and other consumer products beginning in the womb. (Click here for complete study details.)

For the study, independent laboratories identified 232 industrial compounds and pollutants in 10 umbilical cord blood samples from babies of African American, Asian and Hispanic descent born in the United States.

Seven out of 10 babies tested were contaminated with Galaxolide and/or Tonalide, synthetic musks that are used to scent soaps, perfumes, cologne sprays, detergents and other products. Both chemicals are persistent and bioaccumulative (stay in the body). Preliminary research raises concerns that they are toxic to aquatic life and may disrupt hormones.

Because of a loophole in labeling law, “fragrance” is considered a trade secret, so companies don't have to disclose the dozens or even hundreds of synthetic chemical compounds that are in it.

“When we find toxic chemicals in the bodies of newborn babies, it is time to demand change. Cosmetics companies must be required to stop using hazardous chemicals and to disclose all the chemicals in their products so consumers know what they are buying,” said Lisa Archer, national coordinator of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics from the Breast Cancer Fund.

She urged consumers to choose products without synthetic fragrance, and to join the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at to demand laws that protect consumers from toxic chemicals in cosmetics.

The EWG study found that infants are exposed to a mixture of dangerous chemicals in the womb. Other substances detected for the first time in U.S. newborns in this study included bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen used in plastics; a toxic flame retardant chemical called tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) that permeates computer circuit boards; and perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA, or C4), a member of the notorious Teflon chemical family used to make non-stick and grease-, stain- and water-resistant coatings for cookware, textiles, food packaging and other consumer products.

“Each time we look for the latest chemical of concern in infant cord blood we find it,” said Anila Jacob, M.D., EWG senior scientist and co-author of the report. “Our results strongly suggest that the health of all children is threatened by trace amounts of hundreds of synthetic chemicals coursing through their bodies from the earliest stages of life.”

The cord blood study is available at

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Founding members of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics include Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, Breast Cancer Fund, Clean Water Fund, Commonweal, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, National Black Environmental Justice Network, National Environmental Trust and Women's Voices for the Earth. For more information, visit