Consumer Reports: Avoid These Flame Retardants

Consumer Reports: Avoid These Flame Retardants.

Flame retardants are chemicals that are added or applied to materials in order to slow or prevent the start/growth of fire. They have been used in many consumer and industrial products since the 1970s, to decrease the ability of materials to ignite. Flame retardants are often added or applied to the following products. Furnishings, such as foam, upholstery, mattresses, carpets, curtains, and fabric blinds; Electronics and electrical devices, such as computers, laptops, phones, televisions, and household appliances, plus wires and cables; Building and construction materials, including electrical wires and cables, and insulation materials, such as polystyrene and polyurethane insulation foams; and Transportation products, such as seats, seat covers and fillings, bumpers, overhead compartments, and other parts of automobiles, airplanes, and trains. Many flame retardants have been removed from the market or are no longer produced. However, because they do not easily break down, they can remain persistent in the environment for years. They can also bioaccumulate, or build up in people and animals over time. Although flame retardants can offer benefits when they are added to some products, a growing body of evidence shows that many of these chemicals are associated with adverse health effects in animals and humans. These include: Endocrine and thyroid disruption; Impacts to the immune system; Reproductive toxicity; Cancer; Adverse effects on fetal and child development; and Neurologic function

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