Toxic Hazards in Everyday Products: The Latest Science on Exposures and Adverse Health Effects Associated with Flame Retardant Chemicals

February 6, 2019
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

Child on couch surrounded by cushions

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Harmful flame retardant chemicals are added to many products, including children’s products and furniture. While one class of flame retardant chemicals, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), have been generally phased out, the chemical industry has replaced them with “regrettable substitutes,” chemicals that also have been shown to have adverse health effects. These include: reproductive impairment, neurological damage, endocrine disruption, interference with thyroid function, cancer and immune disorders. Exposure levels in infants and young children are significantly higher than in adults.

Alaskans are at higher risk from exposure to flame retardants due to the amount of time residents spend indoors in highly insulated and low ventilation areas where they are exposed through the inhalation and ingestion of household dust, recognized by scientists a significant pathway of exposure. The Municipality of Anchorage is considering an ordinance “to protect the health of children and firefighters” that would prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution of children’s products or furniture that contain harmful flame retardant chemicals.

On this call we learned about the proposed ordinance, the latest scientific research on the health effects of flame retardant chemicals, and a recent study showing the hidden hazards of toxic chemicals in car seats.

Featured Speakers

Kate Hoffman, PhD, Assistant Research Professor, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment; lead author of recent study Prenatal exposure to organophosphates and associations with birthweight and gestational length Environment International 116 (July 2018): 176-185.

Jeff Gearhart, MS, Research Director, HealthyStuff.org, Ecology Center; Author of Hidden Hazards: Flame Retardants & PFAS in Children's Car Seats. 


This call was hosted by the CHE-Alaska Partnership, which is coordinated by Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT). It lasted for 60 minutes and was recorded for the call and webinar archive.