Phosphate flame retardants: Bad to the bone?

If you go to the CDC’s ToxGuide it will tell you that data suggest Phosphate Ester Flame Retardants are widely distributed throughout the human body. You’ll also find this: Normal human levels? No data available Biomarkers? There are no biomarkers that can be used to quantify exposure… Level in air? No data… Levels in sediment and soil? No data… Read ToxFAQs and you’ll find “there is not enough data” to determine if they produce cancer in humans (though increases in…

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HBCD is on the way out – but use of questionable alternatives will persist

This week, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving. But internationally, countries that have signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants have a different reason to give thanks: the amendment adding HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) to Annex A (Elimination) takes effect today. Under Annex A of the Convention, countries have up to five years to eliminate uses of HBCD in plastic foam building insulation, and any insulation materials containing HBCD during that phase-out period will need to be labeled. HBCD is a persistent,…

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It all comes out in the wash

Flame retardant chemicals don’t stay put in products. A study published in Environmental Science & Technology reveals they are hitching a ride on our clothes and taking a detour through our laundry, on the road to our rivers. Flame retardants (FRs) are in the bodies of humans and animals, and in our waterways. One pathway to rivers and oceans is laundry water. FRs migrate from household products and accumulate on dust and clothing. When we wash our clothes the chemicals…

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HBCD alternatives assessment: narrow focus misses large problems

Polymeric flame retardant evaluated as HBCD alternative in Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment (EPA DfE) assessment presents unknown risks and possible undesirable trade-offs In reading the Executive Summary of the recent EPA DfE alternatives assessment it may appear that there is a safer chemical replacement for the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), which is being globally phased out. Unlike HBCD, the replacement is a polymer or polymeric, meaning that many smaller pieces are joined together to make a large molecule,…

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World sees the light and bans HBCD. US stays in the dark.

In a historic decision, over 100 governments from around the world have agreed to list HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) for global elimination. This ban means you can’t produce it, use it, import it or export it. The ban takes full effect by August 2015. Just as important, countries voted against allowing the recycling of HBCD products, and new building insulation that contains HBCD will require labeling. The goal is to prevent HBCD-containing products from being disposed of improperly or illegally dumped. As…

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KQED Science: An environmental catch-22: fire safety chemicals in insulation pose risks

26 Jun 2013

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown directed state agencies to reduce water use and greenhouse gas emissions through a green building action plan to “shrink the state’s environmental footprint.” The order also mandated using “environmentally preferable products that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing goods that serve the same purpose.”…

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