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Posted Fri Oct 29 2010: from TIME:
Flame Retardants in Everyday Products May Be a Health Hazard, Scientists Say
Here's a fact to brighten your Thursday: you have a much smaller chance than your grandparents of bursting into flames. That's because brominated and chlorinated flame retardants (BFR and CFR) -- classes of chemicals that inhibit fire ignition -- have become common ingredients in everything from clothes to couches to computers. (You can thank safety-conscious California for that; the state's tough laws on flame retardants led to their wide-scale use by manufacturers around the country.) But fire safety has come with a cost. The chemicals used to prevent fires have repeatedly been shown to cause damage to human health. First polychlorinated binphenyls (PCBs) were found to be severely toxic to people and the environment, and the chemicals were banned in 1977. Next came polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), another class of chemicals used as flame retardants; over the years PBDEs have been found to accumulate in organic tissues and in the environment -- even in human breast milk -- and they are hormones disruptors, with links to thyroid and other health problems. PentaBDE and OctaBDE have been banned by the European Union and withdrawn from production by the only U.S. manufacturer; one other chemical, DecaBDE, is still in wide production but is restricted in the European Union and will be voluntarily withdrawn from the U.S. in 2013. ... Other BFRs and CFRs have emerged as substitutes for restricted flame retardants, but it turns out that they, too, may be linked to health problems. ... CFRs and BFRs contain compounds that are carcinogens, reproductive and neurological toxins and endocrine disruptors. And like their predecessors, once these chemicals come into contact with the human body, they can hang around for a long time, accumulating in greater proportions.
[Read more stories about: PCBs, flame retardants, toxic buildup, health impacts]

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