California PBDEs and Infant Developmental Disruptions

From the SF Chronicle Thursday, Nov 15, 2012

Flame retardant compounds pervasive in most California households appear to delay the neurodevelopment of children exposed to the chemicals from the womb through the first years of life, UC Berkeley researchers say in a new study.

Researchers say their findings, published Thursday, add to worries about a class of endocrine-disrupting compounds called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, that are widely used in furniture, infant products, electronics and other goods.

Studies have shown California children have among the highest concentrations of the chemicals in the world, likely because of the state’s strict fire-safety law, enacted in 1975, which requires that furniture withstand 12 seconds of flame without catching fire. Manufacturers used large amounts of PBDEs to comply.

Interestingly, the tests were done on farmworker children in the Salinas Valley:  the higher the concentrations of PBDEs measured in the pregnant mother the lower the attention span in children, the lower verbal IQs and the lower the fine motor skills. The American Chemistry Council says fires are a greater danger,

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