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Your Environment. Your Health.

Elevated Blood Levels of Flame Retardants in Mexican-American Children

Brenda Eskenazi, Ph.D., Asa Bradman, Ph.D., and Nina Holland, Ph.D.
University of California Berkeley
NIEHS Grants P01ES009605 and R01ES012503

Epidemiologists at the University of California Berkeley report that levels of flame retardants are seven times higher in Mexican-American children living in California than children in Mexico. They report that levels of the chemicals, polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, are higher in these children than almost all other groups of children ever studied.

PBDEs are used in a variety of products including padding in upholstered furniture, carpet pads, child car seats, mattresses, and clothing. Some of these products have been reported to contain as much as fifty percent of the chemicals by weight and they tend to have long lifespans. PBDEs do not bind chemically to the products they are used in. As the products age and degrade, the chemicals are released in the form of dusts. California has very high anti-flammability standards; these could have inadvertently led to high levels of PBDE-laden dusts in homes.

Prior research suggests that exposure to PBDEs is linked to infertility problems and thyroid hormone imbalances. The levels reported in this study represent a major challenge to California public health officials.

Citation: Eskenazi B, Fenster L, Castorina R, Marks AR, Sjodin A, Rosas LG, Holland N, Guerra AG, Lopez-Carrillo L, Bradman A. A Comparison of PBDE Serum Concentrations in Mexican and Mexican-American Children Living in California. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Apr 15. [Epub ahead of print]

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