“The average American baby is born with 10 fingers, 10 toes and the highest recorded levels of flame retardants among infants in the world.”
—So begins a 4-partChicago Tribune series about flame retardants and the science - or lack thereof - behind them. According to the series, the health hazards of flame retardants have been brushed over in favor of the science supporting them. That science, however, appears increasingly flimsy and manipulated for profit. The Tribune’s website includes the series as well as multimedia and original documentation - click here to check it out.
A summit on chemicals and hazardous wastes ended … with an agreement to globally phase out a widely used flame retardant and to accept stricter requirements for disclosing information about exports of four other chemicals.
But participants fell short in their efforts to require more information and consent among nations trading in a construction material, Chrysotile asbestos, and a formulation of the powerful herbicide, Paraquat, despite support from most of the 169 nations represented at the two-week U.N. summit.
Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, said the negotiations by delegates to three major environmental treaties reflected awareness that many of the 100,000 chemicals used by industry or agriculture, or sold in commercial products, still haven’t been tested for their effects on people and nature. …
“Some of these compounds are dangerous, some of them are lethal, whether to human health, to the environment,” he added.
The average American baby is born with 10 fingers, 10 toes and the highest recorded levels of flame retardants among infants in the world. The toxic chemicals are present in nearly every home, packed into couches, chairs and many other products. Two powerful industries — Big Tobacco and chemical manufacturers — waged deceptive campaigns that led to the proliferation of these chemicals, which don’t even work as promised.
I just finished listening to a talk given by Philip Landrigan, M.D., director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai, whose research is responsible for the government removing lead from paint. I took notes, which I’ll paste below, but I recommend listening if you have a spare 20 minutes. The Q&A afterwards was also interesting.
Keep Your Family Safe From Toxins Notes:
Why is this relevant?
There are more than 80,000 new synthetic chemicals.
Rates of disease are rising.
Over 200 of these chemicals are being ingested
There is little to no testing on these chemicals. Fewer than 20% have been tested.
Evidence is increasing that chemicals can cause disease.
98% of dollars go to treating sick people, we should increase the dollars spent on prevention.
Disease caused by toxic environment exposures are preventable.
Rates of disease:
30 years Asthma- rates have doubled.
Leukemia- steady increase over the past 40 years.
Development Disabilities affect 10-15% of all children.
CDC says more than one in 88 babies is on the autism spectrum.
Disease in children caused by toxicity costs the country $76.6 billion.
Phthalates- Man made chemicals that get into the body and interfere with the endocrine system. The endocrine system secretes hormones- pancreas, testies, ovaries, thyroid, adrenaline.
Most phthalates are found in women and children. These health effects can be severe for pregnant women. Decrease masculinization in the womb, accelerate the onset of puberty, problems with the development of the brain and nervous system.
Avoid #3 plastics, personal care products with the term, “fragrance” in the ingredients, never cook in plastic, nail polishes ewg.org/skindeep. Tells you which products are safe.
BPA: Is present in 95% of the population.
Linked to hyperactivity, early puberty, increased risk of breast cancer and neurological impairments.
Avoid 3-6 months before pregnancy.
Can be found in water bottles, metal cans, thermal receipt paper, baby formula containers.
Avoid number 7 recycling, wash hands after going to the market, buy fresh whenever possible.
They are found in mattress, pillows, foam paded furniture, curtains, computers, television monitors.
Replace furniture with exposed foam, keep the items above covered with a slipcover, buy things made from natural fibers as they are less flammable therefore fewer chemicals are used, look for natural carpets, if tearing up an old carpet, wear a mask and have other family avoid the area.
Can lead to developmental issues with the brain, lower IQ.
Prevent exposure- Don’t use pesticides at all in your home. Integrated pest management IPM, take your shoes off before you enter the house, wash veggies, eat in season (ewg.org) for safe produce, aviod the dirty dozen.
Alternative chemicals are not necessarily any better than BPA. Use stainless steel instead.
Dental sealants with BPA- request a rubber dam in the mouth, and that the dentist wipes down the filling when it’s complete.
Flame retardants are just one class of chemicals that appears stuck on this toxic treadmill. Plasticizers such as phthalates and bisphenol-A are another. Bisphenol-S, for example, is now common in BPA-free products.
A common ingredient in flame retardants, BDE-49 accumulates in human blood, fat and breast milk. Despite these concentrations, little research has been done on the chemical’s potential health risks. However, a study by scientists at the UC Davis MIND Institute is shedding new light on BDE-49’s potential danger to brain health. The study showed that even tiny amounts of the compound damage neural mitochondria, the energy plants that power our cells. The chemical, quite literally, reduces brain power.
In addition, the researchers found that the loss of PTEN protein, a condition associated with autism-like behavior in mice, combined with BDE-49 exposure, makes neurons even more susceptible to mitochondrial damage. These findings bolster the argument that genetics and environment can combine to increase the risk of autism and other neurological disorders. The study was published online this month in the journal Toxicological Sciences.