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E-M:/ New article about PBDE's

Enviro-Mich message from Tracey Easthope <tracey@ecocenter.org>

Front page article about flame retardants in Los Angeles Times - 
PBDE's have been detected
in wildlife in the Great Lakes basin, and are on the rise.

The article notes Great Lakes region links:

"A pregnant Indiana woman had the largest individual concentration 
found so far -- 580 parts per billion -- and her baby carried nearly 
as much at birth, according to an Indiana University study published 
last month. "


"Great Lakes Chemical Corp., based in Indiana, is the only 
manufacturer of the type of PBDEs used in furniture and building 
materials. "


20 April 2003
Los Angeles Times
Front page

Cause for Alarm Over Chemicals

Levels of common fire retardants in humans are rising rapidly, 
especially in the U.S.
Animal tests show effects on the brain.

By Marla Cone, Times Staff Writer

Toxic chemicals used as flame retardants are rapidly building up in 
the bodies of people and wildlife around the world, approaching 
levels in American women and their babies that could harm developing 
brains, new research shows.

The chemicals, PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, are used to 
reduce the spread of fire in an array of plastic and foam products in 
homes and offices, including upholstered furniture, building 
materials, televisions, computers and other electronic equipment.

This year, the European Union banned the two PBDE compounds that have 
been shown to accumulate in human bodies. Some European industries 
had already begun to phase out the chemicals, and levels in the 
breast milk of European women have begun to decline.

But in the United States, no action to regulate the flame retardants 
has been taken, and their use continues to rise. About half of the 
135 million pounds of PBDEs used worldwide in 2001 were applied to 
products in North America.

Scientists who specialize in toxic contaminants say they haven't seen 
a chemical build up in human bodies and the environment as quickly as 
that of PBDEs in almost half a century. The flame retardants are as 
potent and long-lasting as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and DDT-- 
chemicals that began to accumulate in the environment in the 1950s 
and were banned in the 1970s. Even if PBDEs were banned today, they 
would endure in the environment for decades, scientists say.

A single, small dose of PBDEs fed to newborn laboratory mice and rats 
disrupts their brain development, altering their learning ability, 
memory, behavior and hearing, according to three studies, two 
conducted in Europe and one at the U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency. Mice fed less than 1 part per million of PBDEs performed 
poorly in maze tests and were hyperactive and slower to become 
habituated to new environments.

- snip -


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