-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- A flame retardant banned
years ago in many parts of the world appears to remain in use and
is among a number of potentially toxic flame retardants found in
baby products such as nursing pillows, bassinet mattresses,
strollers and high chairs, a new study reports.
Flame retardants are used to reduce the risk of polyurethane
foam -- used in a large number of products -- catching fire, and to
slow the rate of burning if it does catch fire.
Penta brominated diphenyl ethers (pentaBDE) was the most popular
flame retardant prior to 2004, but was banned in 172 countries and
12 U.S. states because of health concerns. In order to meet the new
flammability standards, manufacturers began using other flame
retardants which, in many cases, lack full health data, the study
authors explained in a news release from the American Chemical
The situation has led to a lack of knowledge about exactly which
flame retardants are being used in products and at what
concentrations, explained Heather M. Stapleton, an assistant
professor of environmental chemistry at Nicholas School of the
Environment, Duke University, and colleagues.
Stapleton's team conducted this study in order to fill those
The researchers found potentially toxic flame retardants in 80
percent of the polyurethane foam samples taken from 101 common baby
products. Among those flame retardants were compounds associated
with pentaBDE, which suggests that the substance remains in
Two potential cancer-causing flame retardants -- TCEP and TDCPP
-- were also found in some of the polyurethane foam samples
collected from the baby products.
The findings warrant future studies "to specifically measure
infants' exposure to these flame retardants from intimate contact
with these products, and to determine if there are any associated
health concerns," Stapleton and colleagues concluded.
The study is published in the current issue of the journal
Environmental Science & Technology.
In response to the new report, the Juvenile Products
Manufacturers Association released a statement stressing that "All
nursery products sold in the United States must conform to tough
federal safety standards such as the Consumer Product Safety Act,
the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and the Consumer Product
Safety Improvement Act."
The industry trade group statement also noted that "Not only do
these safety standards contain flammability requirements, they also
restrict the use of substances that are harmful or toxic and to
which children might be exposed."
Health Canada has more about
flame retardants and health.
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