Human Exposure to Brominated Flame Retardants
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Press release
Most California Furniture Contains Toxic Fire Retardants

Fire retardants in California furniture --  for full pdf report click here

New data collected by Friends of the Earth demonstrates that a high percentage of California’s
furniture contains toxic chemicals called halogenated fire retardants.*∗ In hundreds of peer-
reviewed studies and animal experiments, halogenated fire retardants have been linked to serious
health disorders such as cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption, neurological and reproductive
dysfunction and learning disabilities such as ADHD, mental retardation, and hyperactivity.1 Today,
Californians who undergo testing are finding halogenated fire retardants stored in their bodies at
increasing rates, with babies and children showing the highest levels.2

*For the purposes of this report, we will refer to brominated and chlorinated fire retardants (BFRs
and CFRs) as halogenated fire retardants. This is inclusive also of PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl
ethers), a sub-class of BFRs. Technically, the term halogenated includes other compounds such as
fluorine and iodine.

Groundwater, drinking water, ambient air, oceans and ecosystems have been contaminated by these
compounds so that now halogenated fire retardants are being detected in wildlife as far away as the
Arctic Circle.8 These compounds have also been found throughout the food chain, including dairy
products, meat, poultry, and fish that we eat on a daily basis.9 A recent study released in July, 2007 by
the U.S. EPA shows that domestic cats have been found to have high levels of these chemicals in
their bodies.10 Halogenated fire retardants may also disproportionately impact firefighters, whose
soaring rates of cancer may be in part attributable to exposure to the by-products of chemical
combustion of these chemicals.11