Thursday, November 29, 2012

Toxic Chemicals Once in Pajamas Now in Sofas

New Studies Find Dangerous Levels Of Toxic Flame Retardants In Household Dust

Amy Westervelt, Contributor
Just a few months after the Chicago Tribune‘s landmark investigative series on flame retardants prompted government hearings on the subject two new studies published today in the journal Environmental Science & Technologyreveal just how prevalent the toxic substances still are in many homes despite the phase out of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants from the U.S. market in 2004.
One study,  [see snippet below] co-authored by Dr. Arlene Blum and Duke University scientist Heather Stapleton, reveals that TDBPP (or brominated “Tris”), which was banned from children’s pajamas in 1977 due to health concerns but is still allowed in other products, is in more than a third of American couches. [SNIP]
The other study, [see snippet below] led by scientists at Silent Spring Institute, shows why the presence of such chemicals in household items is a problem. Authors of that study analyzed dust collected in 16 California homes in 2006 and again in 2011, testing for 49 flame retardant chemicals in household dust (the main route of human exposure to flame retardant chemicals, especially for children). Forty-four flame retardant chemicals were detected and 36 were found in at least 50 percent of the samples, sometimes at levels of health concern. Components of Firemaster 550, the primary replacement for banned Pentabromodiphenyl ether (Penta-BDE), was found at higher levels in 2011 than 2006, an indicator of its increased use.  Despite the ban, Penta-BDE was also found in the homes,  at levels found to affect children’s IQ, attention, and motor skills in the recent UC Berkeley study by Brenda Eskenazi  [snip] 
Please read this article in full at the above URL address

Dangerous for kids' pajamas, safe for sofas?

Flame retardant removed from sleepwear amid health concerns is increasingly used in furniture

By Michael Hawthorne, Chicago Tribune reporter
November 27, 2012|
Duke University chemist Heather Stapleton found that foam samples from more than 40 percent of 102 couches bought between 1985 and 2010 contained a flame retardant that was removed from children's pajamas more than three decades ago. (Sara D. Davis, Photo for the Tribune)
More than three decades after manufacturers stopped making children's pajamas with a flame retardant suspected of causing cancer, new research suggests the same chemical has become the most widely used fire-resistant compound in upholstered furniture sold throughout the United States.
The study, led by Duke University chemist Heather Stapleton, found that foam samples from more than 40 percent of 102 couches bought from 1985 to 2010 contained the chemical, known as chlorinated tris or TDCPP. More than half of the couches bought since 2005 were treated with it.
Overall, 85 percent of the couches contained flame retardants, which escape over time and settle in household dust that people ingest, especially young children who play on the floor and frequently put their hands into their mouths. Several of the flame retardants detected in the new study have been linked to hormone disruption, developmental problems, lower IQ and impaired fertility. [snip]

Read more here:

After the PBDE Phase-Out: A Broad Suite of Flame Retardants in Repeat House Dust Samples from California

 Silent Spring Institute, 29 Crafts Street, Newton, Massachusetts, United States
 Toxicological Centre, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk-Antwerp, Belgium
Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/es303879n
Publication Date (Web): November 28, 2012
Copyright © 2012 American Chemical Society
*Phone: 617-332-4288; e-mail:
ACS AuthorChoice
Abstract Image
Higher house dust levels of PBDE flame retardants (FRs) have been reported in California than other parts of the world, due to the state’s furniture flammability standard. However, changing levels of these and other FRs have not been evaluated following the 2004 U.S. phase-out of PentaBDE and OctaBDE. We analyzed dust collected in 16 California homes in 2006 and again in 2011 for 62 FRs and organohalogens, which represents the broadest investigation of FRs in homes. Fifty-five compounds were detected in at least one sample; 41 in at least 50% of samples. Concentrations of chlorinated OPFRs, including two (TCEP and TDCIPP) listed as carcinogens under California’s Proposition 65, were found up to 0.01% in dust, higher than previously reported in the U.S. In 75% of the homes, we detected TDBPP, or brominated “Tris,” which was banned in children’s sleepwear because of carcinogenicity. To our knowledge, this is the first report on TDBPP in house dust. Concentrations of Firemaster 550 components (EH-TBB, BEH-TEBP, and TPHP) were higher in 2011 than 2006, consistent with its use as a PentaBDE replacement. Results highlight the evolving nature of FR exposures and suggest that manufacturers continue to use hazardous chemicals and replace chemicals of concern with chemicals with uncharacterized toxicity.


California house dust contains some of the highest concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants (FRs) in the world due to a state-wide furniture flammability standard (Technical Bulletin 117).(1) PBDEs have been associated with thyroid and other endocrine system disruption and adverse neurological development (see Supporting Information (SI)). PBDEs in California homes and residents(2-6) often exceed risk-based levels for children,(4, 7) raising concerns about exposures to the many other FRs that have not yet been well-characterized. For example, Great Lakes Chemical Corporation, the sole U.S. PBDE manufacturer, introduced Firemaster 550 to replace the PentaBDE commercial mixture in response to prospective bans in Europe and several U.S. states.(8) Little is known about the chemical composition, uses, exposure levels and health effects of this mixture or of other brominated, chlorinated, and organophosphate chemicals used as FRs. Because additive FRs shed from consumer products, they are found in house dust. Measuring dust concentrations over time can identify exposure trends that result from changes in product formulations. [snip]
  Continue reading here:



  1. Nice article about the do's and don't's. It's really useful and there will come a time where it will prove just that. Thank you so much for the insightful and interesting post. I hope that you can keep providing us with this kind of information where we can use it in our daily lives.


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