Product News and Recalls

Flame retardants may pose hazards

A story in the Washington Post says chemical flame retardants added to consumer products to meet federal and state flammability standards may pose health and environmental hazards, while failing to actually reduce the products’ flammability.

Flame retardants make use of chemical reactions to counteract or inhibit the flammability of treated products, including textiles, foam in couches and baby products, building insulation, carpets, drapes, personal computers, TV sets, car dashboards, and electrical cables. They’ve been in use since the 1970s.

According to the story, studies in laboratory animals and humans have linked a type of flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, to thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, lower IQ, advanced puberty and reduced fertility. Other flame retardants have been linked to cancer.

In addition, according to the Washington Post, other recent studies have suggested that the chemicals may not effectively reduce the flammability of the products they’re used on.

Regulators have been aware of the potential hazards of flame retardants for decades. But a growing body of research indicates that the chemicals are showing up more frequently in the environment, in animals and in people.

Last year, researchers announced finding evidence of the chemicals in tree bark samples collected worldwide.

And an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of blood samples collected in 2003 and 2004 found that 97 percent of Americans had flame retardants in their blood.

See the story here: