Originally published November 26 2014
A whole new class of cancer-causing flame retardants detected in bodies of Americans
by Jennifer Lilley
(NaturalNews) A new finding that Julia Brody, PhD, Executive Director and Senior Scientist at Silent Spring Institute, says "provides more evidence that our homes are a primary source of exposure to toxic flame retardants," has yielded the shocking discovery that several flame-retardant chemicals exist in Americans' organ systems, including TCEP [tris-(2-chloroethyl) phosphate], a carcinogen which has just been detected in Americans for the first time ever.(1)
TCEP is part of a class of flame retardant chemicals that has rarely been studied in the United States, and as such, has not received much attention. Thankfully, researchers at the Silent Spring Institute and the University of Antwerp decided not to let the issue sit by the wayside, choosing to test the urine samples of several California residents. It was found that all of the biomarkers of six flame-retardant chemicals were present in their urine, raising serious health concerns as well as ones pertaining to the production and regulation of flame retardant materials.(1)
Carcinogenic material lurks in common household itemsAlthough California's Proposition 65 lists TCEP as a carcinogen and the European Union says it is a "Substance of Very High Concern," over half a million pounds of it are made annually for the likes of plastics and polyester resins. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, TCEP is "the main flame retardant used in automotive foam cushioning and the second most widely used flame retardant in furniture foam," and appears in PVC vinyl, carpet backings, paints and home electronics.(1,2)
Health problems linked to TCEP include cancer and neurological and reproductive damage, and because young children tend to put random objects in their mouths, it's estimated that they may ingest upwards of 10 times as much of these chemicals as adults.(2)
On the plus side, because of revisions in the state regarding flammability standards, California residents can now select furniture that is flame-retardant-free, a growing option that's becoming more commonplace throughout the entire country.
Another flame-retardant chemical that was phased out years ago also appearing in our bodiesIn addition to TCEP, another cancer-causing chemical that's dubbed as TCEP's "evil cousin," called TDCIPP (chlorinated "tris"), was also detected during the study. What's particularly disturbing about this finding is that it was phased out of production many years ago, when it was commonly used as a flame retardant in children's pajamas.
"It is hard to believe that a metabolite of chlorinated tris, the same flame retardant we helped remove from baby pajamas in the 1970s, was found in almost all of the study participants," said Arlene Blum, PhD, Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute and Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley.(1)
How to stay safeTo stay as safe as possible, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends replacing old furniture that's made with fire-retardant materials and examining existing furniture to check for areas where foam may be exposed. They also suggest using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, wearing pajamas made out of natural fibers and, in any instance of uncertainty, to contact the manufacturer and inquire about fire retardants.(3)
In addition to these measures, other experts also advocate purchasing textiles and furniture made from natural fibers like wool or cotton, checking to confirm that electronics manufacturers have phased out the use of chlorinated flame retardants, and if necessary, contacting senators and representatives to urge them to change outdated toxic chemical policies. It should also be noted that, while children's pajamas containing flame-retardant chemicals was banned in the late 1970s, some of it still exists in commonly used baby items such as rocking chair foam, strollers and nursing pillows.(2)
The findings in this study is an eye-opening discovery that everyone must be increasingly aware of the possible toxins that are lurking in everyday surroundings, and that more policies should be put in place to prevent them from wreaking havoc on the health of individuals.
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