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Flame retardants (PBDEs) are found in tons of products from toys and other kid items to infant car seats to furniture to the very food you eat. What’s worse, flame retardants stick around in the human body for years — meaning Americans are unwittingly stockpiling the toxins with every exposure. Now there’s finally some good news with regard to flame retardants. For the first time ever, researchers have documented that flame retardant levels have finally declined within the bodies of a group of American women studied. The new study looked at levels of flame retardants found specifically in pregnant California women, and it’s very significant that levels were 65% lower than women tested just three years ago. This is very good news, as flame retardants are known for causing quite a bit of havoc in the human body, including disruption of thyroid hormones in pregnant women and newborns plus poorer concentration and attention and reduced IQs in children exposed. This research demonstrates that slowly but surely consumer interest in chemical reform is paying off. Still, there’s more work to be done. Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, cautions people that while the results are suggestive, they are not definitive, noting, “If we truly are seeing a decline, it is good news.” However, while levels of some PBDEs may be decreasing, newer flame retardants are now being used — and they can be just as harmful. Bitnbaum points out that another PBDE, known as deca, is, “Still is found in many electronic products. Its use has been banned in the United States but “deca is very stable in the environment and its use far exceeds that of banned PBDEs.” Still, small steps in the right direction are better than none at all.

+ Flame retardants banned years ago finally declining in women