Toxic Flame Retardants

Toxic Flame Retardants and Children’s Health

A Hidden & Growing Danger!


Flame retardant chemicals are in almost everything: Not only in our TV’s, clothing, furniture, carpets and electronic equipment; they are also in our air, water, food and our own bodies. Their levels are especially high in our babies and children, because children eat, drink and breathe more than adults. These chemicals disrupt our thyroid function, immune systems, brain development and can possibly cause cancers. Human blood and tissue levels of these toxins have been doubling every two and a half years in the USA. What are these chemicals and what can you do to protect yourself and your family from their effects?


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s), also known as brominated flame retardants, have been added to many common products found in the home. Plastics and textiles are usually treated with PBDE’s before being made into carpeting, furniture, casings for electronic equipment, circuit boards and clothing. PBDE retardants have been in use since the 1970’s when their counterpart, PCB’s, were BANNED from production due to their undeniable negative effects on human health. PBDE’s are very similar to PCB’s in many ways, particularly in the damage they do to our thyroid function, immune system, brain development and in our growing cancer rates.


PBDE contamination is most prevalent in the USA. New York, New Jersey, Denver, Austin, Chicago and California areas have the highest observed levels of PBDE’s in women’s breast milk in the world. San Franciscan and New York women have levels up to 25 times higher than their European counterparts. Animals both wild and domestic have PBDE levels from 2,000 to 47,000 parts per billion. THIS IS A HUGE Problem! The highest concentrations are in freshwater fish downriver from industrial plants using these chemicals, however PBDE’s have been found in marine life as far away as the Northern Arctic Sea. Significant levels of PBDE’s are present in both outdoor and indoor air environments, particularly in homes where PBDE-treated products can be found, such as carpeting, furniture and clothing (such as most children’s pajamas), plastics and electronics. {TV’s, Computers, Stereos}


What can you do to protect yourself and your family from the growing threat of PBDE contamination? The use of PBDE’s was cut significantly in Sweden and Europe in the late 1990’s due to their increasingly strict indoor air quality laws. Since then the level of breast milk contamination in those countries has declined. They have also developed a number of products that use alternative flame retardants. Here in the USA we can follow their example by demanding PBDE-free products and by telling our political representatives how important this issue is. Until the indoor air quality laws change for the better in the United States, we need to clean up and reduce these contaminates in our immediate environments by using alternative fire retardant products, eating more consciously and by cleaning our own contaminated indoor air quality with proper HEPA air cleaners and HEPA filtered vacuum cleaners. Be Pro-Active! Keep your family and employees healthy!

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