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You Are Being Exposed to Dangerous Flame Retardants

Like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a suspected carcinogen used in the making of Teflon, polybrominated diphenyl ether, better known as PBDE, is just as common and harmful to human health.

You won't appreciate just how common PBDEs are in our environment, however, until you read this interesting and disturbing Seattle Post-Intelligencer feature. In fact, the typical level of PBDEs in a human body hovers between 30-70 parts per billion. And, if you think that's already too much, a study of liposuction patients discovered PBDE levels as high as 9,500 parts per billion in their fat.

How to best eliminate such exposures is the $64,000 question, unfortunately, because there's been great debate over attempts to ban the most common form, deca-BDE, that has been found to cause neurological problems in lab animals, and is found in everything from TVs to upholstered furniture.

You might be surprised, or not, about where much of the support for a flame retardant ban is coming: Firefighters exposed to smoke and all sorts of toxic chemicals that can still be smelled on his or her body days after a fire. Conversely, the biggest fight against a deca-BDE ban will come from TVs, computers and upholstered furniture

That said, pressure is mounting in the state of Washington to ban PBDEs, with the Department of Ecology and Health leading the way.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer March 28, 2007