flame retardants

RECENT POSTS

Flame Retardant Update: After CA Ban, Lower Toxin Levels In Pregnant Women

Last month, we posted a story on renewed efforts to eliminate toxin-containing flame retardants — used on couches and myriad household items so they don’t combust — from use, including a new push by some students and faculty at Harvard to ban flame retardant dorm furniture from campus.

CommonHealth contributor Karen Weintraub reported:

Flame retardants, also known as PBDE’s (Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers) are ubiquitous, required since the 1970s by fire marshals in every state and community, and promoted by the chemical industry that makes them. But critics say they’re problematic — both in everyday use and when burned – and their effectiveness at stopping fires is also being questioned.

pressreleasefinder/flickr

pressreleasefinder/flickr

Flame retardants accumulate in the blood stream and can cause endocrine disruption — essentially mucking with hormones needed to grow, reproduce, and think and avoid cancer, according to studies in animals. They also release cancer-causing chemicals like dioxin when burned, said Robin Dodson, a research scientist at the Silent Spring Institute, an environmental group. Their impact is particularly significant in young children and during pregnancy, research suggests.

Now, researchers in California report that a decade after the state banned certain chemical-containing flame retardants, the level of those chemicals found in the blood of pregnant women has greatly declined.

From the University of San Francisco news release:

A class of flame retardants that has been linked to learning difficulties in children has rapidly declined in pregnant women’s blood since the chemicals were banned in California a decade ago, according to a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco.

Blood levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), tested in patients at the UCSF-affiliated San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center fell by two-thirds since they were last tested three years ago and found to be the highest levels reported among pregnant women anywhere in the world. The findings were published online on Sept. 25 in Environmental Science & Technology.

Researchers said the dramatic decline was most likely the result of the statewide ban, Continue reading

At Harvard And Beyond, Flame Retardants Under Fire

By Karen Weintraub
Guest contributor

Is that armchair you’re about to sink into bad for your health?

Quite possibly, according to a growing body of research that is raising questions about flame retardants — used on couches and myriad household items so they don’t combust — and the toxic chemicals they release into the air. Things have gotten so bad that Harvard, under pressure from students and faculty, is considering eliminating flame retardant dorm furniture from campus.

pressreleasefinder/flickr

pressreleasefinder/flickr

Flame retardants, also known as PBDE’s (Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers) are ubiquitous, required since the 1970s by fire marshals in every state and community, and promoted by the chemical industry that makes them. But critics say they’re problematic — both in everyday use and when burned – and their effectiveness at stopping fires is also being questioned.

Flame retardants accumulate in the blood stream and can cause endocrine disruption — essentially mucking with hormones needed to grow, reproduce, and think and avoid cancer, according to studies in animals. They also release cancer-causing chemicals like dioxin when burned, said Robin Dodson, a research scientist at the Silent Spring Institute, an environmental group. Their impact is particularly significant in young children and during pregnancy, research suggests.

Now, the tide of public opinion is turning against these chemicals, with intense lobbying in California, which led the nation in setting high standards and is now revising them.

Harvard’s administration said last week that it will do what it can to respond to student requests to get rid of flame retardants on campus. Continue reading