By: Douglas Main
Excerpt: Chemicals once used to prevent furniture from burning accumulate in the bloodstream and elsewhere in the body after being ingested in dust and food. And though they’ve been banned for more than 10 years, they’re not going away, new research shows.
In 2006, the federal government began phasing out two types of flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. This move followed studies showing that the chemicals were ending up in people’s bodies and breast milk in increasing amounts. Mounting evidence also shows that they may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and lead to neurodevelopmental problems, thyroid imbalances and other ill effects.
In the years immediately following the ban, levels of these chemicals slowly began to decline in people’s houses, and likewise in people’s bodies. But the new study, published in mid-March in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggests that bodily levels of the chemicals have plateaued over time, and even increased, in certain people.
In the paper, researchers looked at blood levels of two types of PBDEs in the blood of more than 1,250 California women between the ages of 40 and 94. The scientists found that levels of flame retardants found therein have increased slightly between 2011 and 2015. ...
The study suggests the middle-aged and older women may be being exposed more than other groups of people, or perhaps they metabolize these chemicals more slowly, says Robin Dodson, a research scientist at Silent Spring Institute.