CBS Local — Flame retardant chemicals used in products like yoga mats, sofas, car seats, and even phone cases are being linked to infertility, according to a new study. Researchers at Harvard University say organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs) found in a patient’s body lowered their chances of a successful pregnancy.

PFRs are used in polyurethane foam found in many products used by both adults and children.

“These findings suggest that exposure to PFRs may be one of many risk factors for lower reproductive success,” lead author Courtney Carignan said.

The researchers looked at 211 women undergoing in-vitro fertilization treatment and discovered over 80 percent of them had traces of the flame retardant chemicals in their urine. Women on IVF with higher concentrations of the chemicals in their system were nearly 40 percent less likely of being able to carry a baby to term.

“Couples undergoing IVF and trying to improve their chances of success by reducing their exposure to environmental chemicals may want to opt for products that are flame-retardant free,” said professor of reproductive physiology Russ Hauser.

It’s not the first flame retardant substance to be linked to dangerous side effects. Chemicals like PentaBDE have reportedly been phased out because of research connecting it to illnesses in animals. PFRs were created and marketed as a safer alternative but the new research is raising serious questions about their role in disrupting fertility.

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