Between 1970 and 2004, levels of some flame retardants in the blood of American adults doubled every two to five years. American babies are born with some of the highest levels for all infants in the world. According to a UC-Berkeley public health study, babies exposed to flame retardants in the womb have lower birth weights.
The weight decrease found by the study to be associated with flame retardants was close to the weight decrease caused by mothers who smoke during pregnancy. While most of the babies studied weighed more than 5.5 pounds, and therefore were not considered low birth weight babies, their decreased weight could put them at greater risk of being underweight.
Low birth weight babies can have greater challenges with cognitive and social development.
Flame retardants are found in baby products, foam furniture, carpet padding, electronics and other common household items. Flame retardants are in so many everyday products that they can now be found in household dust. Even dogs and cats have tested positive for this type of chemical.
A National Health Institutes director said the greatest concern with flame retardants is their impact on developmental and reproductive potential. Exposure in early childhood is of particular concern. Some very young children may be exposed to flame retardants over long periods of time and this exposure could interfere with their brain development. Researchers also believe these chemicals could be associated with some types of cancer.
Defenders of flame retardants say they save lives by delaying ignition of flammable materials. This delay of a number of seconds could allow a person to get out of a burning room filling with smoke and therefore survive, instead of being engulfed in fumes and smoke, passing out, and dying in a fire.
Paul Greenberg is a Chicago product liability lawyer and Chicago personal injury attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.