For the first time ever, 145 scientists have joined together to publish a consensus statement about the harm of flame retardants.
The scientists published a 20-point statement which declares that they are concerned about the presence of flame retardants in the food chain (including human milk), that they are not being properly handled in electronic waste and that is leading to the release of the substances in the environment and harming human health, that they often lack adequate toxicity information.
Flame retardants are often made up of harmful chemicals that accumulate and are long-lasting.
We are concerned about them because they have been known interfere with proper thyroid function in laboratory animals, cause problems with brain development, and disrupt learning, memory and behavior.
Currently, flame retardants are put into many household products including couches and other furniture, baby clothing and bedding, electronics and computer equipment, and curtains and rugs.
Of course, all of us are concerned with fire safety, however several governments have banned PBDEs -- the common, harmful group of chemicals in flame retardants -- recognizing that alternatives exist that are safer to our families and for firefighters.
Brian Walsh, writer for TIME magazine recently wrote an article for the magazine about toxic flame retardants, saying:
"It's true that the studies linking flame retardants to illnesses — like that of many potential environmental toxins — aren't yet conclusive, and I think we'll all agree that avoiding self-immolation is a good thing. But as I wrote for TIME earlier this year, our system for regulating the ever-increasing number of chemicals in our environment is broken, even as there is more and more evidence that what is out there can hurt us — especially at the very beginning of our lives."
Several states have passed restrictions on flame retardants, while the federal government has not. You can read more about flame retardants at Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.
Maine. Maine passed a bill in 2007 which would phase out Deca-BDE (one of the harmful chemicals in flame retardants) in favor of safer alternatives. The bill was called "An Act to Protect Pregnant Women and Children from Toxic Chemicals Released into the Home," and passed with near-unanimous support in both houses.
Washington. In 2007, a law was passed in the state banning flame retardants, contingent on finding alternative chemicals which would ensure fire safety. Safe alternatives were found and approved by fire officials, and manufacturers are required to phase out PBDEs by January 2011. Read more ...
Vermont. A law passed in Vermont in May 2009 prohibits the sale of products containing Deca-BDE, and forbids the replacement of Deca-BDE with other chemicals that are known carcinogens. Read more ...
Oregon. In June 2009, Oregon became the fourth state to pass a law requiring a phase out of Deca-BDE for safer alternatives. The law adds Deca-BDE to the state list of hazardous substances.