Why Aren’t Activists Barking Up This Tree?
For well over a month now, I have been trying to get across my evidence-based view that GMOs are not to be blamed for society’s health problems.
So it’s time to present something that actually could be responsible for at least some of our health problems. Allow me to present a well cited but rarely discussed health bugaboo that may actually live up to its labels as endocrine disruptor, excitotoxin, maker of cognitive problems in children.
In a recent post I wrote a metaphor about trees in a park. I said there are many trees in said park but the largest group of people is gathered around just one tree, the GMO tree, and they are barking – heck, they are snarling up this tree. They want labels. They want skulls and crossbones. They want bans. I’m sauntering over to a different tree now and joining a much smaller crowd. This crowd is more subdued and includes some of the same types of people who are over at the other tree – consumer moms, environmental activists and the like, but there are also mainstream scientists and members of regulatory agencies in this group.
GMOs are puppy dogs compared to Bad Boy PBDEs
Flame retardants and specifically, a class of flame retardants known as PBDEs (Polybrominated Diphenyl eithers) are my topic today. There is overwhelming evidence – reliable, scientific, mainstream, widely accepted evidence indicating clear and present health dangers. The EPA has taken action and bans are either already in place or in the works. Even if all PBDEs are banned, however, it’s a situation much like with lead paint or mercury – the stuff still hangs around in items manufactured prior to the ban date.
Below are three different article excerpts about BPDEs. Bold emphasis is mine.
When you buy food for your family, you can read the ingredients list and know what you’re putting into your body. But do you know what’s in your clothing, your furniture, and your car upholstery?
For decades, since the 1970s, manufacturers of all sorts of fabric products have used flame-retardant chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, in their products. PBDEs help prevent products from catching fire easily. However, recent research has shown that these chemicals build up in blood and breast milk, interfere with natural hormones, trigger reproductive problems and cause developmental and neurological damage. Even babies are born with PBDEs in their blood– and American babies have the highest levels of any babies in the world. FDA Efforts to Curb Harmful Flame Retardants May Be Delayed by Industry/McCready, Garcia & Leet Law Offices/12/29/2012
PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) are toxic flame retardant chemicals found in some electronics, furniture foams, fabrics, and kitchen appliances. PBDEs are not permanently bound to products and are released into our homes, workplaces and the outdoor environment. They are persistent, bioaccumulative environmental contaminants and are largely unregulated in the United States. People are exposed in multiple ways, including contaminated air, household dust, and foods. PBDEs interfere with thyroid function, cause problems with brain development, and disrupt learning, memory and behavior. Babies are exposed in their mother’s womb and through breast milk. Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Products: Health Effects of Flame Retardants (PBDEs) and State Policies to Prevent Exposures/Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Prenatal and childhood exposure to flame retardant compounds are linked to poorer attention, fine motor coordination and IQ in school-aged children, a finding by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health that adds to growing health concerns over a chemical prevalent in U.S. households. […] PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, [are] a class of persistent, endocrine-disrupting compounds widely found in foam furniture, electronics, carpets, upholstery and other consumer products. The chemicals easily leach out into the environment and are inhaled or ingested through dust, then accumulate in human fat cells. Sarah Yang/UC Berkeley News Center/November 2012,Citation: In Utero and Childhood Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE) Exposures and Neurodevelopment in the CHAMACOS Study/Environmental Health Perspectives
The Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH) posted an excellent fact sheet/pdf on their website.
Tables from the CERCH website:
Apparently if you live in California, it is a worse situation as indicated in the CERCH table (left).
I ask – where is the public outcry? Where is the call for labeling of products that still contain decaBDE which is not yet completely out of new electronic products? Why aren’t people marching in parades wielding skull and cross bone signs over their electronics, sofas, carpets and upholstery? Where is the call to action to destroy older consumer products that still contain BPDEs?
Below I have listed many additional studies, EPA notices, articles and blog posts from a variety of sources that clearly indicate real dangers from PBDEs. This is by no means all of them but I tried to include a fair sampling.
It should also be noted that the EPA has not banned any GMO Foods.
~Julee K @ Sleuth4Health
Header graphic from Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Evaluation of DNA Damage Induced by 2 Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Flame Retardants/Abstract/International Journal of Toxicology
PBDEs in US Mother’s Milk/pubmed
Contamination of U.S. Butter with PBDEs from Wrapping Paper. /Arnold Schecter, Sarah Smith, Justin Colacino, Noor Malik, Matthias Opel, Olaf Paepke, Linda Birnbaum/Environmental Health Perspectives, 2010
EPA ACTION PLAN & SIGNIFICANT NEW USE RULES
PBDEs Action Plan Summary/EPA/Existing Chemicals
PBDEs Significant New Use Rules/EPA/Existing Chemicals
ARTICLES & BLOG POSTS
PBDE Flame Retardants/Center for Environmental Research & Children’s Health (CERCH)
Flame Retardants Linked to Neurodevelopmental Delays In Children/UC Berkley News Center
Flame Retardants Linked to Lower IQs, Hyperactivity in Children/Scientific American
Flame Retardant People/About.Com/Chemistry
Chemical Companies Are Grilled About Flame Retardants/Chicago Tribune
FDA Efforts to Curb Harmful Flame Retardants May Be Delayed by Industry/McCready, Garcia & Leet Law Offices/12/29/2012
PBDEs: The Toxic Flame Retardants/Alliance For a Clean and Healthy Maine
Butter Contaminated By Flame Retardant /Science Daily
This article was updated at 10:32 PST.