Toxic Contamination in Offices: New Study Reveals Hidden Chemicals in Dust


Toxic Contamination in Offices: New Study Reveals Hidden Chemicals in Dust


Posted 05 July 2011, by Staff, PR Newswire (UBM),

BOSTON, July 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Researchers studied over two dozen offices in Boston and discovered dangerous flame retardant chemicals – polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) – banned by an international treaty  – are contaminating every office. Exposure to PBDEs in the Office Environment: Evaluating the Relationship Between Dust, Handwipes, and Serum, was published June 30th in Environmental Health Perspectives.

“These chemicals can mimic our bodies’ natural hormones and may contribute to problems with reproduction and development,” explains Ami Zota, Sc.D., researcher with the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California San Francisco, and not affiliated with the study.  “Young men and women of child bearing age working in offices should know that fetal exposure to PBDEs can alter brain development and lead to long lasting developmental deficits including reduced IQ.”

“While our study sampled a relatively small number of offices, the findings suggest additional research could indicate most offices are contaminated,” says Tom Webster PhD., study co-author and associate chairman, Boston University School of Public Health. “PBDEs are very pervasive but even in new offices with brand new furniture we found PBDE compounds present.”

The study found frequent handwashing appeared to reduce exposure to certain PBDEs.

“An outdated California regulation virtually forces manufacturers to put these flame retardant chemicals into foam for products meant for sale in California and elsewhere, even though doing so doesn’t prevent fires,” explains Ana Mascarenas, from Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles.

“Fire retardant chemicals used to meet California regulation don’t provide a fire safety benefit,” says Arlene Blum PhD, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute and co-author of a recent study documenting lack of fire safety benefits from the chemicals used for CA  regulation, TB 117. “Exposure is linked to thyroid disease, lowered IQs in children, and reproductive effects such as infertility.”

Kathy Curtis, coordinator, Alliance for Toxic Free Fire Safety, says failure in federal law explains how PBDEs persist in consumer goods, “When Congress eventually reforms the nation’s chemical law – the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 – we’ll have safer products. If industry had to prove that flame retardant chemicals were safe for human health, they’d never have been approved for use to begin with.”

For more info:

SOURCE Alliance for Toxic Free Fire Safety


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