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The fetus is then placed at even greater risk. According to Sandra Steingraber, biologist and author of Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood, "More profoundly, chemicals don't even have to cross the placenta to cause harm. Some lodge in the placenta and create injury there. I For example, nicotine damages the placenta's amino acid trans port system, which is used to ferry proteins from the mother's blood into the baby's. This helps explain why the babies of smoking mothers weight on an average of seven ounces less at birth. (Nicotine also passes through the placenta and into the body of the fetus.) Similarly, the industrial pollutants called PCBs alter the placenta's blood vessels in way that reduces their flow, and the heavy metal, nickel, a component of car exhaust, interferes with the placenta's ability to make and release hormones. In short, the placenta not only fails to keep the fetus out of harm's way, it cannot even prevent itself from being damaged. Like any other living tissue, it is fragile."