…25 types of toxic flame retardant found in US breast milk - The Guardian

New peer-reviewed research has identified 25 kinds of toxic flame retardant in human breast milk in the US, and all samples contained at least some level of the dangerous chemicals.

The compounds are part of the brominated flame retardant class, which are commonly used in plastic, televisions, appliances and electronics. The research also marks the first time a largely unregulated subclass of the flame retardants, called bromophenols, have been found in breast milk.

The chemicals are thought to be potent neurotoxins, especially for developing children, and the findings are “disturbing”, said Erika Schreder, a toxicologist with Toxic Free Future and a study co-author.

Among other issues, many of the compounds are linked to memory impairment, increased impulsivity, impaired motor skills, decreased attention and overall lower measures of intelligence in children. Some of the chemicals may also be carcinogenic. Humans are exposed to brominated flame retardants when the chemicals break off from the plastics, get in dust, and are either breathed in or ingested.

In 2007, some states started enacting bans on polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), one commonly used subclass of the flame retardants, prompting some in the industry to stop using or producing them. The new research found concentrations of PBDEs in milk seem to be decreasing over time – median levels in mothers in the Pacific north-west region are about 70% lower than researchers found in a similar study 20 years ago.

The European Union and New York recently passed bans of the entire class of brominated flame retardants in electronic displays or enclosures, while the state of Washington this year enacted a wider ban on their use in electronics.

Read the full story here

The Guardian

Locations: New York Washington United States of America 

Organizations: Toxic Free Future European Union 

People: Erika Schreder 

Tags: Public Health Pollution Regulation Environmentalism 

Type: Headlines