New US research has found that exposure to a common type of flame retardant could affect the chance of pregnancy and live birth in women undergoing fertility treatment.
PFRs are a type of flame retardant that are mostly used in polyurethane foam in many products, such as, upholstered furniture, gym mats and baby products.
However the new study suggests they could he having a damaging impact on fertility.
Lead author Dr Courtney Carignan, a research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School, Boston said: "These findings suggest exposure to PFRs may be one of many risk factors for lower reproductive success".
Russ Hauser, a senior author of the study, comments that those couples who are undergoing IVF and are trying to enhance their possibility of success by reducing exposure to environmental chemicals should choose flame-retardant free products.
The flame retardants in question are organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs), a newer type of chemical created to replace older, more risky flame retardants.
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For the new research, the team looked at urine samples from 211 women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Centre between 2005 and 2015.
The analysis showed traces of three PFRs - TDCIPP, TPHP, and mono-ITP - in more than 80 per cent of participants.
Previous studies have linked exposure to products containing hormone-disrupting chemicals, such as pesticides and phthalates, to infertility and poorer reproductive success.
PentaBDE, a flame retardant used in polyurethane foam - was identified to have an association with negative impacts on health in animals as well as in epidemiologic studies and so was phased out over a decade ago. PFRs were introduced as a safer alternative, but the academics noted that they have been found in animal studies to cause hormone disruption.
A study by Doctor Joseph Allen of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the United States found women with elevated levels of PBDE in their blood were more likely to develop thyroid disease.
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