(NaturalHealth365) Flame resistant materials are everywhere in modern society. For example, polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) is a commonly used flame retardant in the United States and they are structurally similar to PCBs – which have been banned since 1979. PBDEs are used throughout the United States and flame retardants vary by state – however since California has the highest population, most manufacturers strive to meet California’s Technical Bulletin 117 (TB117) standard that requires raw foam to withstand candle-like flame for 12 seconds.
So what’s the problem with flame resistant chemicals in our home?
Many experts and scientists believe this outdated requirement is unnecessarily exposing children and adults to toxic chemicals such as the commonly used PBDE. These flame retardants are used in a wide variety of children’s products including:
• Nursing pillows
• Car Seats
• Sleeping wedges
• Portable crib mattresses
• Baby carriers
• Changing Table Pads
When the Green Science Policy Institute screened products from the above categories, they discovered that 80 percent of them contained toxic or untested flame retardants. While the flame retardants are added to meet the TB117 standard, they are not bonded to the foam and are continuously escaping and settling into house dust. Further, despite the requirements and exposure to toxic chemicals, deaths related to small open flames have remained unchanged.
A chemical alert for every pregnant woman and health-conscious parent
Many of the known health issues of PBDEs are suspected to be caused by disrupting the body’s thyroid hormone balance. The consequences of low thyroid hormone levels on developing fetuses and infants can be quite damaging. One study found that women who were in the lowest 10 percent of the population during their first trimester of pregnancy for T4 hormone level, were more than 2.5 times as likely to have a child with an IQ of less than 85 and five times as likely to have a child with an IQ of less than 70.
Because the developing brain is known to be extremely sensitive to toxins and, scientists have started to look at the long-term effects of PBDEs. The results are in animals studies have been disturbing. Small doses given to fetal or newborn mice and rats caused deficits in learning, memory and hearing, changes in behavior, and delays in sensory-motor development.
In July of 2012, a study published by Environmental Health Sciences stated the environment and genetics work together to create autistic symptoms in fetal mice when they were exposed to PBDE. Since PBDEs have been accumulating in the environment at the same time as the accelerating rise in autism and because changes in the brain and other symptoms are similar to PBDE exposure and autism, the authors suggest that the two may be related.
How can I reduce exposure to flame retardants?
The Green Science Policy Institute suggests the following steps:
1. Wash your hands frequently. Fire retardants are found on hands and hand to mouth contact is believed to be a major path for exposure.
2. Use a vacuum fitted with a HEPA filter and wet mop to reduce dust.
3. Avoid furniture with foam labeled to meet California TB117 because it is likely to contain toxic fire retardants.
4. Buy wooden furniture or furniture filled with polyester, down, wool or cotton as they are unlikely to contain added fire retardant chemicals.
5. Consider buying upholstered furniture with the foam thickly covered or wrapped inside the cushion so the chemicals are less likely to escape.
6. Use a minimum of carpeting and draperies as they are often treated with fire retardants. Mattresses should not pose a health hazard because they use a barrier technology rather than adding chemicals to foam.
7. Prevent young children from touching and mouthing remote controls and cell phones as they contain fire retardant materials.
About the author: Sima Ash of Healing 4 Soul is a clinical and classical homeopath and certified clinical nutritionist who utilizes a unique approach pioneered by Tinus Smits, M.D. called CEASE therapy. The aim of CEASE treatment is systematic detoxification of the causes of illness, leading to step by step improvement and restoration of health in the individual. For additional information, please visit – Healing4Soul.com. You can follow Sima on Facebook at ‘Cease Therapy California’ and through her weekly blog on NaturalHealth365.com
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