Flame retardants in household items linked to chronic diseases
By Olivia Cook // Jan 19, 2023

Flame retardants meant to stop household fires have been linked to cancer and other chronic health conditions. Worse, these chemicals linger in homes years after they have been banned from use.

Abby Campbell of NaturalHealth365 expounded on the history of these flame retardants in an article published on Christmas Day 2022. These chemicals were developed in response to the popularity of cigarettes in the U.S. back in the 1970s, which also caused major fires. She pointed out that "the tobacco industry was urged to make self-extinguishing cigarettes," but Big Tobacco had other plans.

"Instead, they created a front group called the National Association of State Fire Marshalls – which pushed for laws requiring fire-retardant furniture. In 1975, California laws led to a national standard requiring furniture manufacturers to douse their couches and mattresses with flame-retardant chemicals.  Since then, flame retardant has been applied to most household items, such as furniture, electronics and even baby products."

Campbell ultimately remarked that based on studies, "these toxic chemicals contribute to cancer, chronic disease, and attention deficit problems in children." (Related: Your home is filled with toxic fire retardants.)

A November 2012 study published in Environmental Science & Technology found that these flame retardants linger in people's homes even though they have long been banned for use. The researchers, which include epidemiologist Julia Brody and toxicologist Ruthann Rudel of the Massachusetts-based Silent Spring Institute, collected dust samples from 16 homes in California in 2006 and 2011.

They found that at least one flame retardant chemical – pentabrominated diphenyl ethers (penta-BDEs) – remained in samples collected from "legacy" household products in the two years. Moreover, 41 compounds related to these chemicals were found in at least half of the dust samples. The researchers attributed this to "legacy" products such as old sofas that have not been replaced.

Flame retardants still pose health risk decades after being banned

A July 2014 study published in Chemosphere elaborated on the health risks associated with brominated flame retardants (BFRs), which include penta-BDEs. The paper examined 36 studies, including 17 that involved children.

"Plausible outcomes associated with BFR exposure include diabetes, neurobehavioral and developmental disorders, cancer, reproductive health effects and alteration in thyroid function," it stated.

Another study published May 2016 in Environmental Health warned that flame retardants could disrupt thyroid hormone action. The authors also warned that post-menopausal women are particularly vulnerable to the negative impact of flame retardants on the thyroid gland, given their low estrogen reserves.

Aside from impacting thyroid function, flame retardants can also impact fertility in a negative way as evidenced by two studies published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

In the first study that focused on women, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley observed more than 200 pregnant women from the Salinas Valley. They found that more than 97 percent of the women had polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in their blood. PBDE is a family of flame retardant chemicals, including penta-BDEs.

Those with higher PBDE levels in their blood took a longer period to conceive or get pregnant compared to those with low PBDE levels. Moreover, each ten-fold increase of PBDEs in a pregnant woman's blood was linked to a 30 percent decrease in her chances of conceiving.

In the second study, researchers found that men living in homes with high concentrations of flame retardants had lower sperm counts and altered levels of hormones related to fertility and thyroid function.

An increase in the concentration of these flame retardants in a house was linked to a 19 percent decrease in sperm levels. It was also linked to a 10 percent increase in the hormone prolactin. This hormone, in high amounts, can be a marker of decreased dopamine activity and may also be linked with erectile dysfunction in men.

Chemicals.news has more stories about flame retardants.

Watch this video about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finding 148 chemicals in human blood prior to 2007.

This video is from the 1Human channel on Brighteon.com.

More related stories:

Flame retardants, pesticides now leading risk factors for IQ loss.

Toxic flame retardants found in newly manufactured children’s car seats.

The deadly connection between flame retardants and poor health.

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