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Your Environment. Your Health.

Flame Retardant Chemicals

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

July 25, 2017

young boy sleeping on a sofa

Flame retardant chemicals are added to consumer products, such as furniture, clothing, baby products, and coverings for electronic devices, to reduce their flammability. Brominated flame retardants are a common class of chemicals that have been used widely and are associated with negative health effects such as cancer, thyroid problems, and interfering with children’s brain development. Although many of these chemicals are being phased out of commercial use, they are incredibly persistent in the environment.

In this podcast, hear how researchers and advocates are working to reduce exposure to flame retardants in particularly vulnerable communities, and to communicate with decision makers to further protect human health.

Interviewee:

Pam Miller (pamela@akaction.org)

Pamela Miller is a biologist and co-chair of IPEN (International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network). In 2000, Miller founded Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), which works to protect human health, water and air quality, and the natural environment by collaborating with affected communities. She is the Principal Investigator of a research team at ACAT working in collaboration with tribes in Alaska to address environmental health and justice issues.

Miller is also a leader in Coming Clean, a national network of groups concerned about policy reform for chemicals, and a Participant in Project TENDR (Targeting Environmental NeuroDevelopmental Risks). A s a renowned expert on persistent toxic chemicals and prominent voice of chemical reform, she has served on governmental organizations and advisory groups and played an instrumental role in both national and international policy decisions. 

Additional Resources:

  • Read more about collaborative research to address the environmental health challenges of the Yupik people of St. Lawrence Island:
    • Miller PK, Waghiyi V, Welfinger-Smith G, Byrne SM, Kava J, Gologergen J, Eckstein L. 2013. Community-based participatory research projects and policy engagement to protect environmental health on St Lawrence Island, Alaska. Int J Circumpolar Health 72. [Abstract] 
    • Hoover E, Cook K, Plain R, Sanchez K, Waghiyi V, Miller P, Dufault R, Sislin C, Carpenter DO. 2012. Indigenous Peoples of North America: Environmental Exposures and Reproductive Justice. Environ Health Perspect 120:12. [Abstract]
    • Carpenter DO, Miller PK. 2011. Environmental contamination of the Yupik people of St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. J Indigenous Res 1:1. [Abstract]
    • Welfinger-Smith G, Minholz JL, Byrne S, Waghiyi V, Gologergen J, Kava J, Apatki M, Ungoot E, Miller PK, Arnason JG, Carpenter DO. 2011. Organochlorine and metal contaminants in traditional foods from St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. J Toxicol Env Health 74(18). [Abstract]
    • Read more about how flame retardant replacement chemicals are migrating to the arctic.
    • Alaska Community Action on Toxics webpage.

Additional Citations:

  • Eskenazi B, Chevrier J, Rauch SA, Kogut K, Harley KG, Johnson C, Trujillo C, Sjodin A, Bradman A. 2013. In utero and childhood polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) exposures and neurodevelopment in the CHAMACOS study. Environ Health Persepct 121(2):257-62. [Abstract] 
  • Chevrier J, Harley KG, Bradman A, Gharbi M, Sjodin A, Eskenazi B. 2010. Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants and thyroid hormone during pregnancy. Environ Health Perspect 118(10): 1444-14449. [Abstract]
  • He P, Wang A, Niu Q, Guo L, Xia T, Chen X. 2011. Toxic effect of PBDE-47 on thyroid development, learning, and memory, and the interaction between PBDE-47 and PCB153 that enhances toxicity in rats. Toxicol Ind Health 27(3):279-88. [Abstract]
  • Ma Y, Xie Z, Lohmann R, Mi W, Gao G. 2017. Organophosphate Ester Flame Retardants and Plasticizers in Ocean Sediments from the North Pacific to the Arctic Ocean. Environ Sci Technol 51(7):3809-3815. [Abstract]