9.25.2013 9:01 AM

Steep Reduction in Suspect Chemical Detected

Following a national ban, average levels of flame retardants in pregnant women drop 65%.

pregnant woman with laptop computer
Photo: Istock/Cloned from thedailygreen #257421.

By Dan Shapley

The flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers have long been a concern of the eco-minded crowd, because their hormone-mimicking ability, in some lab studies, pointed to potential risk of a variety of diseases in humans.

The good news? From 2008-2011, the average amount of PBDEs detected in pregnant women dropped 65%, following a California ban and a national phase out of production of PBDEs, according to a new study published in Environmental Science & Technology . The chemical had been used to meet fire-safety mandates, particularly in California, but as a Chicago Tribune expose showed, "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."

Prenatal exposure to PBDEs has been linked to neurodevelopmental harm in human and animal studies.


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