NYC toddlers exposed to high levels of flame retardants: Study

Study finds 100 percent of toddlers studied had high levels of flame retardants on their hands after exposure.
By Amy Wallace  |  Jan. 23, 2017 at 3:17 PM
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Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Researchers at the Columbia University have discovered high and potentially harmful levels of flame retardant on the hands of toddlers in New York City.

The study, from the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, or CCCEH, in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, examined 25 mother-child participant pairs from the CCCEH Sibling-Hermanos birth cohort.

Researchers wanted to study the amount of exposure and potential harm of persistent brominated flame retardants, or PBDEs, that were initially used in manufacturing in the 1970s, but phased out beginning in 2004 for alternative flame retardants such as TBB and TBPH.

Not much is known about the health effects of TBB and TBPH, but they have been linked to reduced fertility and endocrine disruption in laboratory animals.

The research showed that 100 percent of toddlers in the study had high levels of flame retardant on their hands and in their homes, along with having higher levels of flame retardants compared to their mothers.

Dust samples from the homes and hand wipes used by the participants were collected and analysed for levels of flame retardant by the researchers.

Results showed that PBDEs, TBB and TBPH, were found in 100 percent of the house dust samples. Levels of TBB and TBPH were higher than PBDEs. The PBDEs and TBB were found in 100 percent of hand wipe samples, while TBB was found in 95 percent of samples.

"The extent to which young children are exposed to these chemicals is cause for concern given the known neurodevelopmental risk of PBDEs and the potential toxicity of their substitutes," Whitney Cowell, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia's Mailman School and first author of the study, said in a press release.

The study was published in the journal Emerging Contaminants.

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