Women's eNews - Flame Retardant Studies Flag Mother-Child Dangers

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November 28, 2012
By Molly M. Ginty

Two studies--published today in the journal Environmental Science and Technology--report high levels of toxins in household flame retardants. One study focuses on dust, the other on upholstery. Both worry advocates for healthy pregnancy.

Excerpt: Since two of her children were born with special needs that may be linked to environmental pollution, Melissa Wolfe has worried about flame retardants in her home.

Today's release of two studies in the journal Environmental Science and Technology indicate that these chemicals are prevalent in couch upholstery and dust, and raise Wolfe's level of concern.

"One of my sons is a thumb sucker, and this news makes me even more nervous about what he is putting in his mouth," says Wolfe, who lives in Brentwood, N.H., and is a board member of the New Hampshire Learning Disabilities Association.

Flame retardants are known carcinogens that previous studies have found in human breast milk and in the bloodstreams of young children. In pregnant mothers, they can cause thyroid problems, while in developing children, they can cause neurological difficulties and endocrine problems.

In response to today's findings, health advocates say they will step up their lobbying for the Safe Chemicals Act, which would require stricter pre-market testing of all synthetic chemicals for the first time since federal regulations were last revamped in 1978.