A few years ago consumer and environmental activism helped to cause the phase out in the U.S. market of the use of chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) due to the dangers they presented to humans, especially babies & toddlers. So, since learning of this phase out most of us have been moving along things things are going to be safe now in regards to fire retardants used in our household products.
After all, Government Regulators wouldn’t allow manufacturers to use a different fire retardant without testing it’s safety would they? Not testing the replacement chemical for a chemical product phased out due to health and safety concerns…That would be sort of ridiculously dumb wouldn’t it?
Well, surprise, surprise – We just ran across a really good but alarming article on saferchemicals.org about the current status of Fire Retardant Safety In the U.S.and the news isn’t good.
So here’s the low down from this new article –
When the PBDE fire retardant phase-out began ten years ago, we hoped that manufacturers would replace them with safer alternatives.
That didn’t happen.
Tests published earlier this month by myself and other scientists at the Environmental Working Group and Duke University detected a biomarker indicating that all 26 children in our study had been exposed to a fire retardant called TDCIPP, linked to cancer and endocrine disruption. Their level of exposure was nearly five times the average level found in their mothers. In the most extreme case, a child had 23 times the level of the mother.
…These results are particularly troubling since the children, ages one to five, were in important stages of development and likely more sensitive to environmental chemicals, particularly those that affect their metabolism and hormones.
PBDE replacements are not safer
Fire retardant compounds are often added to consumer products such as the cushioning in upholstered furniture, automobiles, and even baby products such as car seats and nap mats.
The Author went on to site some of the dangers of the replacement chemicals being used.
– “Chlorinated tris” – another name for TDCIPP – and a variety of organophosphorous compounds.
…TDCIPP, is listed on California’s Proposition 65 roster as a known carcinogen. It is linked to changes in hormones, neurotoxicity and developmental toxicity.
Some fire retardants were marketed as proprietary chemical mixtures, such as Firemaster® 550.
…Firemaster® 550 causes obesity and disrupts glucose homeostasis – the balance to maintain healthy blood glucose level – in laboratory animals. Components of this mixture called triphenyl phosphate and isopropyl triphenyl phosphates, or TPhP and ip-TPhPs respectively, increase the activity of a protein called PPARγ which plays an important role in metabolic processes that contribute to diabetes and obesity. TPhP is also used to make plastic and can be found in a wide variety of household goods.
The call for chemical policy reform
The range of health effects associated with these chemicals raises an important question: Why were they used as PBDE replacements in the first place?
…U.S. law does not require toxicity testing before chemicals are sold and made into everyday items.
…The Firemaster 550 episode speaks loudly to the need for U.S. chemical policy reform. Chemicals must be tested to ensure their safety.
…Avoiding exposure is almost impossible. We can’t shop our way out of the problem because government regulators do not impose labeling requirements for fire retardants.
…If, as we expect, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission imposes a national furniture flammability regulation, it must not encourage or require chemical fire retardants. (Click here to sign EWG’s petition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.)
We urge you to read the full article and sign their petition! It’s important to effect change in how our government protect our children!