A report sponsored by the United Nations recently determined that the rise in cancer and birth defect rates around the world has been at least partially due to our exposure to man-made chemicals in everyday products. U.N. researchers believe that these chemicals could also be linked to a decline in the production of male sperm and female fertility.
While other studies have shown these findings, the new report gives them increased credibility. The latest findings were determined by an international collection of academic experts working with the United Nation's Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). In the report, these experts cited endocrine disrupters, such as phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), which are used to soften or harden plastic, as among the most harmful. They noted that both humans and animals alike were being exposed to these chemicals that had been little studied and whose effects were little understood. The chemicals pose "a global threat" in need of a resolution.
Certain countries, such as the United States, Canada, and some European countries, have already banned these chemicals in specific products. In some states, like California, BPA has been declared toxic and a reproductive hazard. However, there are still "hundreds of thousands" of chemicals used around the world, of which only a small amount have been assessed for their effect on human and animal hormonal systems. One reason is because manufacturers frequently do not list all of the chemicals used in their products.
The U.N. experts' findings ought to be of concern to everyone, whether or not you have children. Yet if you do have a child with a birth defect that you believe was due to your exposure to BPA or phthalates while pregnant, what are your options? You would likely not be able to sue the manufacturer or the products you used, because there would be so many, it would be almost impossible to narrow them down. You would need to establish that you used certain products during certain periods of time, and that the chemicals in those products were the cause of your child's birth defects. You could file such a lawsuit, but your chance of success would be small.
Your best option for any kind of relief might be to sue the regulatory agency responsible for enforcing the levels of environmental toxins. You could argue that it breached its duty to the community by failing to penalize manufacturers for their inability to make reasonably safe products. However, one challenge would be determining which agency you target -- some toxins are under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while others are under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Each has different standards and processes for assessing the safety of a toxin.
The birth defect attorneys at Oshman & Mirisola, LLP have successfully represented clients in birth defect lawsuits for more than 35 years. If your child suffers from a birth defect that you believe could be due to your being exposed to harmful chemicals like BPA or phthalates while pregnant, please contact us today by calling (800) 400-8182, or submit our online Contact Us form.