Air Pollution and Fertility – Dust Hazards and Their Effects on Pregnant Women
The following is a guest post from www.trying-to-conceive.com
When we are trying to get pregnant or already expecting, there is so much to worry about already – from prenatal supplements to exercise and stress. We all want to create the healthiest possible environment for our children, starting in the womb. Where does pollution come in when you are pregnant or hoping to conceive? How does the air we breath outside, in our homes, and at work affect our health, and what can we do to protect ourselves?
Recent studies financed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the federal Environmental Protection Agency concluded that babies who were exposed to high levels of pesticides in the womb have lower IQ scores when they reach school age. Earlier studies made similar findings in regard to lead exposure.
But the problem of pollution starts even earlier than pregnancy, as another recent study revealed. Men who breathe in large amounts of air pollution, because their jobs brought them in close proximity with major thoroughfares for instance, have larger amounts of free radicals in their blood, and a resulting lower sperm count and poorer quality of sperm. The message is clear: heavy metals that are contained in automobile exhaust, along with exhaust from most industrial processes have direct consequences on a man’s ability to conceive a child.
The challenges faced by couples who are contemplating how to get pregnant and maintain a healthy gestation are avoiding air and dust pollution, particularly where their jobs result in regular contact with dust particles containing heavy metals such as mercury, lead, or other harmful chemicals. Individuals who are employed in scrap metals-processing, lead compound manufacturing, cement production, metal smelting (foundries) and spray painting vehicles, for example, are most at risk when they constantly breathe in dust and vapors.
Pregnant employees and those who are trying to conceive benefit from protective clothing and equipment, clean washing and changing facilities, risk assessment, and the development of dust and fume control systems. Regular medical check-ups specifically geared to monitoring pollution exposure should be provided by employers, particularly for workers who are also currently expecting a baby. Symptoms of lead exposure can easily be confused with regular pregnancy signs and symptoms, so this is of paramount importance.
Plants that produce dust in large quantities are not only expected to create a safe working environment for their employees, but they are required by law (EPA, OSHA, and other regulations apply) to have dust collector filters installed to filter harmful particles out of the atmosphere. Such systems protect both workers at the plants and nearby residents from exposure to potentially dangerous levels of dust pollution. But if you work at a plant that creates a lot of dust, the mere presence of a dust collector might not be enough to reassure you that your health and your baby’s health are not compromised. Leading industry experts have concluded that malfunctioning, inadequate, or poorly operated dust collectors are a huge problem in the industry today. Therefore, it is important to take your own steps to protect your health, and find out whether your company is providing a a safe working environment.
In addition, there are proactive steps you can undertake to keep yourself safe:
• Ensure correct use of safety equipment provided by your employer, including respiratory protection.
• Practicing excellent hygiene, both at your immediate place of work and after finishing a shift. Keep your working area clear from dust by cleaning it thoroughly, and change into clean, dust-free clothing afterward. Wash your hands, face, and scrub your nails.
• Refrain from eating in dust-contaminated areas.
• Attend regular medical check-ups.
Trying To Conceive is a blog dedicated to reproductive health, pregnancy, and fertility. Their free ovulation calendar helps women who want to get pregnant determine their most fertile days