polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDE

A Flame Retardant That Came With Its Own Threat to Health

polybrominated diphenyl ethers molecular structure

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, used as flame retardants, are bioaccumulating in human bodies throughout America.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are being spread by an array of store-bought foods as well as dust inside homes and offices.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, are added to computers, televisions, furniture cushions, upholstery textiles, carpet backings, mattresses, cars, buses, aircraft and building construction materials by chemical corporations to harden plastic and make polyurethane foam less flammable.

High concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers have been detected in a variety of fish, meat and fowl in America.

In America human bodies carry 20 times more on average than in Europe.

Americans are breathing much higher levels found in their household dust compared with European homes.

PBDEs escape as a gas from hard plastic and polyurethane foam - especially newer computers, furniture and other products - and then adhere to dust.

"There is a continuous exposure, and there is absolutely no way to control it. You have almost a 24-hour exposure, except for the time you are outside." - Aake Bergman, head of environmental chemistry at Stockholm University in Sweden and a leading authority on flame retardants.

The flame retardants have been detected in virtually every individual and animal tested, even newborns and fetuses, around the world, including Australia and the Arctic.

Amounts in people and wildlife are doubling in North America every four to six years, a pace unmatched for any contaminant in at least 50 years.

"We have two sources: food is one and indoor air is another. We now know that the sources are inside our houses, inside our buildings," said Mehran Alaee of Canada's National Water Research Institute.

"PBDEs are found in almost all foods of animal origin; and some have very high levels of these chemicals," said a report by University of Texas environmental scientist Arnold Schecter.

1980 Hyperthyroidism rates began to skyrocket in indoor cats.

Indoor cats lounge on polybrominated diphenyl ether, flame retardant, treated furniture, grooming themselves by licking.

Farm-raised fish contained 5 to 6 times more than wild fish. Other foods that contained high levels of PBDEs included pork sausage, duck and hot dogs.

Beef had the lowest levels, followed by goose, pheasant, scallops, canned tuna and wild coho salmon.

Chicken contained moderate amounts.

PBDEs bind to fat so trimming excess fat, eating lean meats and avoiding large, predatory fish is advised - especially for pregnant and nursing women.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers bioaccumulate in body fat building up over a lifetime.

"I am convinced we are building a huge, ticking time bomb in our environment today." - Aake Bergman

2007 Californians for Fire Safety launches a campaign to derail a legislative bill to ban toxic flame retardants.

Californians for Fire Safety is funded by Albemarle Corporation, Chemtura Corporation, and IC Limited - Industrial Products mnaufactures of PBDE.

"My uncle was a fire fighter and he believed in the use of flame retardants.

He treated his children's pajama fabric with flame retardants.

My uncle died at 45.

His wife and his two children have had thyroid problems all their lives.

My cousin, Ralph, was lethargic since childhood.

He was fairly intelligent but he never had any get up and go.

He only worked short lived jobs during his adult life.

He once told an employer that it was to hard to get out of bed to go to work.

Ralph died at age 53." - Athbhreith Athbheochan

2010 Each tenfold increase in blood concentration of PBDEs was linked to a 30% decrease in the likelihood of becoming pregnant each month.

"One of the strongest associations of PBDEs is with thyroid hormone.

Thyroid hormone does seem to play an important role in fertility.

Either too low or too high levels can impair fertility.

PBDEs also seem to mimic estrogen.

We know these endocrine disrupting chemicals can affect the next generation's fertility." - Kim Harley

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