First lets talk about what these chemicals are! They are called penta brominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and are found in products that contain polyurethane foam. They were originally intended to increase safety from fire risk, but have since become a potential dangerous health risk.
These chemicals have been banned in 172 countries 12 states in the U.S., but still continue to make their way into many common household products such as upholstered furniture, children’s toys. Over 30 years ago chemical flame retardants, PBDE’s were removed from children’s pajamas because they were suspected of being carcinogens and still these same contaminants remain in many products including baby products.
In fact the Duke University recently performed a study that showed 80% of foam collected from baby products that are sold every day legally in the U.S. contained PBDE’s. Baby products such as nursing pillows, car seats, highchairs, changing table pads, sleep positioners, portable mattresses, baby carriers, strollers, and rocking chairs.
Heather M. Stapleton, an assistant professor of environmental chemistry at Duke University and the lead author, complained that current federal oversight of chemicals is so weak that manufacturers are not required to label products with flame retardants nor are they required to list what chemicals are used.
The results were published by the “American Chemical Society Journal Environmental Science and Technology” in 2011. They suggest that more research is needed to specifically measure infants exposure to PBDEs and to determine if and what health concerns are associated to these potential dangers.
Over all, 80 of the products contained chemical flame retardants of some kind, some of which are considered toxic, though legal to use. In one instance, flame retardants represented 12 percent of the weight of the foam in a changing pad; most products were closer to 3 to 5 percent.
PBDE’S are known to be bio-accumulate, (that builds up in human tissue) breast milk and blood after being inhaled or ingested with food. Flame retardants can migrate from furniture to household dust, and can be ingested by people and pets.
Recent research shows that in the U.S. blood concentrations of PBDE’s are higher in children than in adults and are know to have damaging effects on the nervous system development and can disrupt the functioning of estrogen and thyroid hormones.
Studies have showed that when children are exposed to these chemicals very early in their life that the damaging effects continue through adulthood. They are believed to reduce performance on intelligence tests and behavior changes such as hyperactivity.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has been working on a federal flammability standard for upholstered furniture for 16 years. The current proposal would allow manufacturers to meet the flammability standard without fire retardants. An agency spokesman said that “additional research looking into consumer exposure and the impact of chemical alternatives is needed.”
My feelings are that the government regulation’s are failing to protect us and our children against harm and disease. Although we cannot control what substances are put in products, we can try our best to purchase and use products that we know are safe. Where and what are children sleep on is vitally important. I would strongly suggest that you read labels carefully to check if PBDE’s are present and at what level. Since not all chemicals are listed our best choice would be to go with 100% Organic products that are free of all chemicals and toxins. Don’t we own this to our children?
Marla Gates is the owner of organic4greenlivings.com. Marla worked for over 10 years in healthcare, which helped her understand the dramatic need for changes in our society and how we view what healthy actually is. Her mission is education and awareness, so that people can make healthier choices and ensure a safe world for all of us to live in. Since she has suffered from Environment Illness or Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), for 20 years or more it has given her the first-hand knowledge on what chemicals and pollution can do to your health. She knows how important it is to clean up our environment. So come join her, read her blog and learn how to live healthy and green. She believes that we can clean up our environment, but it will take time. Rome was not built-in a day nor can we make our world safe in one day! Each one of us needs to do our part to make it safe for ourselves, our children, grandchildren and all future generations. We can only do it one day at a time and one step at a time! Please join her in “Saving Our Planet Earth” “Go Green” & “Organic” to Live A Healthier Life!