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Record Levels of Toxic PBDE Found In Pregnant California Women

By Kelly Balamuth on August 19, 2011

As reported by The LA Times, research recently released showed the largest levels ever recorded of toxic polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in pregnant women from Northern and Central California.

According to the study published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, a UC San Francisco research group studied 25 second-trimester pregnant women from Northern and Central California seeking care in San Francisco during 2008 and 2009, and observed high levels of the chemicals in their bloodstream, potentially endangering their babies. PBDEs are fire resistant chemicals that were mostly banned in California beginning in 2004, and may be harmful to the liver, thyroid, and nerve development, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Researchers think the high levels are a result of the state’s stringent flammability laws mandated in the 1970s, which manufacturers responded to by adding flame retardants to many products, from furniture to electronics. Ami Zota, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF’s Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment told The LA Times: “… since the mid-’70s [PBDEs] have been added to many products we use in our everyday environments — couches, carpet padding, electronics — computers, TVs — a range of products. They’re also added to crib mattresses, children’s car seats, most products that have polyurethane foam in them have PBDEs in them, or now they have a replacement flame retardant.”

In terms of preventing exposure, Zota said: “It requires a combination of individual and group behavior. Pregnant women can dust and wet mop their home, wash their hands frequently, try to avoid products made from foam. Ultimately, it’s very hard to avoid our exposures to these products because they’re so widespread. We need policy measures.”

If you or a family member has been made ill or harmed by toxic PBDEs in a dangerous product, or suffered in other ways relating to dangerous products, contact the dangerous product lawyers in Northern California at Balamuth Harrington at 1-888-254-1234 for a free consultation.

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