Flame Retardants Linked to Kid’s Health Issues, California Study Finds
Flame retardants are linked to lower IQs and poorer coordination in California children, according to a UC-Berkeley study published in NIH's Environmental Health Perspectives journal, KQED's "State of Health" reports.
The study analyzed the effects of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, a class of chemicals that previously was used widely in California in furniture, electronics and products for infants.
The chemicals were phased out in 2004 because of concerns that they were toxic. However, Brenda Eskanazi -- professor of maternal and child health at UC-Berkeley and lead author of the study -- said that PBDEs still are present in older household products.
For the study, researchers took blood samples from more than 270Â children in utero and again seven years later. During later testing, the children underwent several assessments to gauge their attention span, fine motor skills and IQ
Eskanazi said, "What we saw was that children had more problems in relationship to the amount of PBDEs in their mothers' and their (own) blood" (Kim, "State of Health," KQED, 11/17). She added that higher PBDE levels were associated with "poor performance on fine-motor coordination ... and IQ and attention" (Masterson, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 11/15).
Eskanazi recommended several strategies for reducing exposure to PBDEs, including:
- Vacuuming; and
- Washing hands frequently.
Reaction to StudyIn a statement, American Chemistry Council officials said that they "will need time to more thoroughly analyze the findings," adding that a link between the chemicals and children's development does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship ("KXJZ News," "State of Health," KQED, 11/17). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.