The Globe and Mail: Flame retardants building up within us
By ANDRÉ PICARD
PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTER
Globe and Mail
Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - Page A19
"Those dust bunnies lurking under the bed may not be as innocuous as you think. New Canadian research shows that household dust is the principal source of exposure to flame retardants, a class of chemicals that has sparked a heated debate among scientists, some of whom believe regular exposure may lead to serious learning and developmental problems. Toddlers in particular are ingesting significant amounts of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), according to a study to be published in a forthcoming edition of the journal Environmental Science and Technology. "Dust is the greatest route of exposure to brominated flame retardants," said Miriam Diamond, a professor in the department of geography at the University of Toronto. "It makes a lot of sense. Toddlers are close to the ground, which is where many of those flame retardants are -- in carpets, in furniture. The chemicals accumulate in the dust." In her paper, Dr. Diamond estimates that the average urban Canadian ingests 155 to 1,965 nanograms daily of PBDEs, with the highest levels found in babies but decreasing as people age. (A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram.) But breast-feeding infants have much higher exposures, from 24 to 28,680 nanograms daily. Earlier research found that flame retardants are commonplace in the breast milk of Canadians but concluded that despite high levels, women should continue to breastfeed because the known benefits outweigh the known risks...."