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Dangers Associated with Flame Retardant Chemicals

August 10, 2018 by

Like most people, you probably wash your hands to reduce your exposure to disease-causing germs so you don’t get sick. Hand-washing can also help reduce any risk that is associated with chemical exposure.

Flame retardant chemicals are added to furniture, clothing, insulation, and electronics to try to keep items from catching on fire. However, they’re ineffective and they escape from the products and attach to dust in the air. The chemicals are then often ingested after moving from your hands onto your food and into your mouth.

Due to the dangers associated with flame retardant chemicals, parents should have their children wash their hands often to reduce exposure. Flame-retardant chemicals are not very effective in preventing fire and don’t save lives. They are actually a source of chronic chemical exposure that leads to health problems. Firefighters have higher rates of cancer compared to the general public because of exposure to fumes from burning flame retardant chemicals.

A recent study found that washing your hands and cleaning your home on a regular basis can lower your absorption or consumption of these dangerous chemicals. The study used a behavioral intervention of 32 mothers of young children. The participants either increased their house cleaning or their hand-washing.

Researchers measured the amount of flame retardant chemicals using urine samples and hand wipes and discovered that both interventions significantly reduced chemical exposure.

Women who focused on cleaning had a 47% reduction in chemicals and those who were washing their hands had a 31% reduction. Women who began the study with relatively higher levels of flame retardants saw the biggest difference ? up to 74% after only one week.

These chemicals have been found to accumulate and end in neurobehavioral effects in humans and ecotoxicity in fish and animals. New flame retardants are now being used that are less harmful for people’s health, but the flame retardant chemicals still persist in the environment.

Studies have shown that they are still present in homes and hand-to-mouth contact or absorption through the skin common. These chemicals attack the nervous system in the same way as nerve agents, which has led the EPA to take steps to limit the availability of these chemicals to the public.

Children can’t eliminate these toxins from their bodies as easily as adults. The chemicals can build up more in the bodies of younger children than in older kids or adults because due to their weight, younger children breathe in more air and are exposed to more dust particles in proportion to their body size than adults. These chemicals accumulate in household air and are present in the dust on the floor where young children and babies play. Because children often put their hands in their mouths, this activity further increases their chemical exposure.

Accumulating flame retardant chemicals over the course of a lifetime can lead to serious health consequences. Studies have found that this can lead to cancer, hormonal changes and fertility problems.

As the rates of thyroid cancers increase in the U.S., research has shown that exposure to flame resistant chemicals in the home is associated with this type of cancer. Researchers have found this chemical in homes at elevated levels through dust tests and have found that those homes had a more than twice as likely a chance to have someone living there with a thyroid cancer diagnosis.

Research has also shown that children whose mothers had exposure to flame retardant chemicals while they were pregnant had a lower IQ and had a higher likelihood of having hyperactivity disorders.

There are several things you can do at home to reduce your chances of being exposed to these chemicals. Select products that are naturally less flammable for your home such as leather, cotton, and wool. Purchase organic and green building materials for your home along with carpeting, baby products, and upholstery that contains no toxic chemicals to help limit your overall exposure.

Clean your house on a regular basis to trap dust and make sure that you wash your hands before and after meals to reduce hand to mouth exposure. Also, make sure that your mattress does not have flame retardant chemicals on it. Because you spend so much time sleeping, you want to be sure that you are not inhaling these chemicals while you are trying to rest.

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