the ecovangelist


Flame Retardants ….the burning truth April 4, 2010

Filed under: Around your body — theecovangelist @ 9:33 am
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What are Flame Retardants?

Flame Retardants are commonly used to prevent the spread of fires. While chemical flame retardants have done an excellent job of protecting us from fires, low dose exposures have been linked to health concerns. Several types of chemical flame retardants such as octaBDE & pentaBDE have been banned in the US due to increasing health concerns. However Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDE, type DecaBDE is still in use, and is required by the state of California to be used on several products.

Why are Flame Retardants used?

The original intent of PBDEs was to prevent the spread of fires. This was more imperative when indoor smoking cigarettes was prevalent. With the decrease in smoking, the risk of home fires has reduced and an excess of PBDEs are unnecessary.

Health Concerns with PBDE:

PBDEs are of greatest concern for children and pregnant women. Limited human studies have been conducted on PBDEs. However, of the limited studies that have been done, they have shown that exposure to PBDEs, can possibly cause the following:

  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Decreased Fertility
  • Developmental, reduced IQ
  • Liver toxicity
  • Cancer (in animals studies)

How am I exposed to Flame Retardants?

    • Products sprayed with PBDEs
      • Sofas
      • Mattresses & other furniture
      • Carpet Padding
      • Children’s clothing
      • Computers , TVs & other Electronics
    • Food: Since PBDEs are overly used in our environment, they have found their way into the eco-system via disposal of chemicals – especially in marine life. People are now exposed to PBDEs through consumption of dairy, fish, beef and other high fatty foods.
    • Americans were found to have 20 times greater PBDE levels in their body, compared to Europeans.
    • PBDEs bioaccumulate, meaning they are largely resistant to environmental degradation/decomposition. Essentially, they survive in our environment and bodies for a very long time.


Children’s Clothing:

Currently majority of children’s pajamas have PBDEs incorporated in the fibers. If you want to purchase clothing that is PBDE free, look for labels that state they are flame retardant free

  • Organic sleepwear is often free of PBDEs
  • Some polyester fabrics are naturally fire resistant and do not require PBDEs
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require tight fitting sleepwear to be flame resistant

What Can I do?

    • Purchase Mattresses that are flame retardant free (options listed below)
      • Avoid furniture labeled as meeting California TB 117
    • Vacuum and dust often, since primary route of exposure is through inhaling dust
    • Keep windows and doors open for cross ventilation
    • Purchase flame retardant free children’s clothing
    • Limit consumption of high fatty foods such as beef, fish, butter
    • Wash your hands before eating or handling food
    • Install a Fire Detector to protect you from fires


Flame Retardant Free Mattresses

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