Accepted paper:

Chemicals in daily life - an emerging concern ignored in Portugal?


Susana Fonseca (University of Lisbon)

Paper short abstract:

There have been regular alerts on the risks that different chemical substances may pose for human health, particularly for vulnerable groups. Here we aim at presenting the results of a study being conducted with pregnant women in Portugal, regarding their perceptions and practices on this matter.

Paper long abstract:

In the last decades, there have been regular alerts on the risks that different chemical substances found in day-to-day life pose for human health, particularly for vulnerable groups - children and women in childbearing age. In response to this, some professional institutions representing health practitioners (doctors and nurses) have published guidelines on how to advise families (particularly pregnant women) about the potential risks for babies and children's health resulting from the cocktail of chemical substances that our bodies carry and get in contact with every day. In Portugal, mothers and future mothers seem to trust health professional's advice throughout their pregnancy and after birth, more than any other source of information. In this context, it is highly relevant to explore how chemicals in daily life are addressed by health professionals during pregnancy and early childhood and how do future mothers deal with potential doubts and lack of information on the subject. This communication will present the results of a study that involves in depth interviews (26) with pregnant women with different motherhood experiences and social backgrounds. The preliminary results point to a lack of awareness on the subject, not only by mothers, but also by health professionals who rarely address such a theme with their patients. Therefore, it is our objective to problematize and discuss the apparent paradox of the emergence of chemicals in daily life as a health concern at the international level, but that seems to be escaping the attention of health professionals and future mothers in Portugal.

panel A12
Meet our chemicals: ubiquitous presence, selective views