Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Chemical Soup We Live With

PBDEs linked to delays in development
Flame retardant compounds pervasive in most California households appear to delay the neurodevelopment of children exposed to the chemicals from the womb through the first years of life, UC Berkeley researchers say in a new study.
Researchers say their findings, published Thursday, add to worries about a class of endocrine-disrupting compounds called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, that are widely used in furniture, infant products, electronics and other goods.
Studies have shown California children have among the highest concentrations of the chemicals in the world, likely because of the state's strict fire-safety law, enacted in 1975, which requires that furniture withstand 12 seconds of flame without catching fire. Manufacturers used large amounts of PBDEs to comply.
Some of the chemicals have been banned and phased out since the law took effect, but Gov. Jerry Brown has called on state agencies to revise the regulations to reduce toxic chemicals in furniture even further.
The new study is the largest to show that children exposed to PBDEs tend to have poorer attention, motor skills and IQ scores, said Brenda Eskenazi, the lead author and director of UC Berkeley's Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health.

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