HBCD is the latest addition to a growing list of poorly regulated chemicals found in our foods. Evidence shows these chemicals may be harmful to human health, to the environment and to wildlife.
Arnold Schecter, a public health physician at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas says, “What we’re seeing are chemicals that can cause endocrine disruption, that can cause nervous system damage, that can cause cancer in some cases.”
The flame retardant, more common in Europe than in the US, appears frequently in home insulation materials and, more recently, in American women’s breast milk.
And in human blood and urine.
And in the dust in our homes, stores, schools and businesses.
And in canned foods, the highest levels being in canned sardines, fresh salmon, peanut butter and tilapia.
And in lower doses in canned chili and sliced ham, turkey, chicken and other deli meats.
Though levels are lower than government do-not-exceed levels, those measurements refer to individual doses. If we are receiving doses of HBCDs from a variety of sources, from dust in the air as well as from a variety of commonly consumed foods, then we’re no longer talking about minute amounts.
HBCDs are fat soluble, which is why they’re found in fatty foods. Once they enter the body, they’re stored in human tissue. It can take the human body 219 days to break down just a half dose of the retardants—from one source.
Given how little we know about retardants, the new findings are useful, according to Heather Stapleton, an environmental chemist at Duke University.
It’s not possible to completely avoid flame retardants. Stapleton recommends frequent hand-washing and suggests that consumers call manufacturers and ask that they provide more information about the chemicals used in their products.
“We know these accumulate in house dust, and now it seems another route of exposure is in food,” she said. “There’s just so much we don’t know.”
My Take on the prevalence of HBCDs: Wash your hands after handling all cash register receipts—they’re contaminated, too.
from Discovery News, May 31, 2012