Health Hazards of Toxic Flame Retardants in Everyday Products

January 26, 2011
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

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Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are widely used flame retardant chemicals found at high levels in home furniture, electronics, insulation and other products. PBDEs are persistent and bioaccumulative and therefore have become ubiquitous environmental contaminants found in our air, water and foods. They also have the potential to act as endocrine disruptors. Research shows associations between exposure to PBDEs and adverse health effects including neurodevelopmental effects, thyroid problems, reproductive effects and cancer. Recently, 145 prominent scientists from 22 countries signed a first-ever consensus statement—the San Antonio Statement on Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants—documenting health hazards from flame retardant chemicals.

CHE-Alaska hosted for a discussion with biophysical chemist Dr. Arlene Blum who co-coordinated the San Antonio Statement and Dr. Julie Herbstman whose research shows evidence of neurodevelopmental effects in young children from prenatal exposure to PBDEs.

Featured Presenters

Arlene Blum, PhD, biophysical chemist, author and mountaineer, is a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley's Department of Chemistry and founder and executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute.

Julie B. Herbstman, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.