A Comprehensive List Of Chemicals To Avoid During Pregnancy

A Comprehensive List Of Chemicals To Avoid During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, a woman's body becomes even more vulnerable. Here is a comprehensive list of chemicals to avoid during pregnancy to keep you and your baby safe.

There's a long list of what pregnant women are told to avoid during pregnancy, including alcohol, smoking and even certain kinds of diets. The Environmental Working Group has added some chemicals to the list of things to avoid. These chemicals can get in your bloodstream and go straight to the placenta, affecting your unborn child as badly as alcohol and cigarette can. In this article, we bring you a list of chemicals to avoid during pregnancy.  

A List of chemicals to avoid during pregnancy 

When a fetus is exposed to toxins during development, it can cause permanent brain and organ damage, even long after birth. While there are pollutants that are impossible to avoid, there are those that can be found in everyday items. Those are the ones this article will focus on, so you can identify and avoid them. 

  • Mercury 

Exposure to mercury happens through the air when power plants burn charcoal. Mercury can be found in oceans, rivers, lakes as well as in predatory fish like tuna shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Also, mercury can be found in fluorescent light bulbs and older thermometers. Here's how you can avoid mercury as much as possible:

  • Eat seafood that's low in mercury but high in the omega-3 fatty acids good for pregnant women. These kinds of seafood include shrimp, pollock, tilapia, cod, anchovies, sardines, and trout. 
  • Use a digital thermometer and use energy-efficient LEDs. 

avoid these chemicals when you are pregnant


  • Lead

Being exposed to lead can affect the child both in the womb and much later in life. It can also cause brain damage, nervous system problems, and learning difficulties. Mums get exposed by drinking water from old pipes that are contaminated with lead. Also, lead can be inhaled from old paint, garden soil and from lipsticks whose colours contain lead. Here's how you can avoid lead as much as possible: 

  • Filter lead and other contaminants from water before drinking. 
  • When renovating a house that can possibly generate lead-contaminated dust, use professionals. 
  • Use cosmetics that are made of organic ingredients. 


  • PCBs

The PCBs are industrial products or chemicals that get into the woman's system mostly through food. PCBs can be got from cattle and goats that graze on contaminated soil or fish fed with contaminated animal feed. PCBs can also be found in packaged foods like macaroni as well as in paints and inks used for magazines and newspapers. Here's how you can avoid PCBs as much as possible: 

  • Cut down on the consumption of fat as well as red meat and fatty fish. 
  • Go for fresh organic fruits, vegetables and grains instead of processed ones. 



  • Formaldehyde

This can be found in many products that are common around the house, including carpets, furniture and fabric softeners. It can also be found in cosmetics, shampoo and nail polish. Formaldehyde affects the immune system and can be inhaled from contaminated indoor air. Here's how you can avoid formaldehyde as much as possible: 

  • Read labels and pick products that are free of formaldehyde.
  • Choose nail polish free of formaldehyde and polish your own nails outdoors or in a room where a fan is blowing. 
  • Avoid blowout treatments that have a high level of formaldehyde. 


  • Phthalates

It is the phthalates in plastics that makes it soft, that makes nail polish usable, and lotions spreadable. So sometimes we swallow these things without knowing. To be able to give off smell, items like air fresheners, detergents, household cleaning products, and perfumes all depend on phthalates. Here's how you can avoid phthalates as much as possible: 

  • Read labels and avoid air fresheners made with synthetic fragrances. 
  • Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers.
  • Buy shampoo and lotions that are phthalates free. 


  • Toluene 

This is found in paint, paint thinners, fingernail polish, lacquers, adhesives, rubber and in some printing and leather tanning processes. Toluene can be inhaled from the air, especially outdoors where there's a lot of traffic. You could also inhale it inside your home if it's present in the paint or nail polish inside the house. Here's how you can avoid Toluene as much as possible:

  • Use a nail polish that's toluene-free.
  • Avoid breathing in gasoline. 
  • When you're pregnant don't refinish furniture or cupboards.


  • Asbestos 

The chemical, Asbestos, is made of six different fibrous materials. It can be found on ceiling tiles, drum brake lining, roofing shingles, etc. Asbestos is capable of causing cancer and can get into the air and be inhaled when they become old and start to wear off. Here's how you can avoid asbestos as much as possible:

  • Check your water for asbestos contamination. 
  • Use a water filter to remove asbestos from water. 


  • Bisphenol A

Bisphenol A is found in plastics used in jugs and bottles, tableware like plates and cups, and food storage containers. The presence of bisphenol A in those plastics contaminates food, which could lead to developmental and reproductive problems for the baby. Here's how you can avoid bisphenol A as much as possible:

  • Use stainless containers as your water bottle. 
  • Avoid heating food in plastic containers or putting hot food into a plastic bag. 
  • Cut back on canned stuff and go for fresh or frozen food. 


  • PFOA or PFOS

PFOA or PFOS are materials used to resist stains in items like clothing, carpeting, furniture, pots and pans. Research found that exposure to these organic compounds may lead to low birth weight. Other human studies found that they could also lead to low sperm quality and difficulty conceiving. Here's how you can avoid PFOA or PFOS as much as possible:

  • Avoid using stain-resistance on furniture or carpeting. 
  • Wear clothing you can easily wash instead of stain-resistant clothes. 
  • Use stainless steel cookware instead of nonstick. 


  • Flame retardant 

These chemicals slow flame down in everyday items like electronic plastics, furniture, and mattresses. They can get into the air and water, especially at the bottom of a river where they can concentrate on fish. Flame retardants are dangerous to the thyroid gland and can affect brain development, metabolism and growth. Here's how you can avoid flame retardant as much as possible:

  • Cover any furniture that is exposing the foam on the inside. 
  • Go for electronics that are alternatives to those ones made with flame retardant. 

The above list of chemicals to avoid during pregnancy have long term effects on your baby that may appear much later in life. It may seem like difficult work to look out for all of these, but a quick reading of the label can be the difference between exposure and staying free. 

Also readWhat Is The Relationship Between Uda And Pregnancy?

Sources: pregnancybirthbaby, womansday


Written by

Lydia Ume