New Study Finds Toxic Chemicals Pervasive in Baby Products
May 18, 2011
By Autism Society
Media contact: Amanda Glensky, Media Specialist, 301-657-0881 ext 9015, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Bethesda, MD) May 18, 2011 - A study of products designed for newborns, babies and toddlers – including car seats, breastfeeding pillows, changing pads and other items made with polyurethane foam – found that 80 percent of products tested contained chemical flame retardants that are considered toxic, according to a peer-reviewed study published in the Environmental Science & Technology Journal. Other detected retardants had so little health and safety data on them that their effects are currently unknown. The same flame retardants were also found in children’s bodies and widely dispersed throughout the environment and in food.
The Autism Society, the only national autism organization working with The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition to identify and regulate these chemicals, believes eliminating environmental toxins will improve the quality of life for people with autism. Persons with autism often have chemical sensitivities as well as an inability to detoxify, which makes environmental contaminants especially damaging as they accumulate.
“We know that little people tend to bite, lick, mouth, wet and fully experience these products, and absorb more potentially toxic chemicals than adults by both habits and percentage of small body weight,” said Donna Ferullo, Autism Society Director of Program Research. “For example, a wet mattress sends an entirely new combination of untested vapors into a small, vulnerable system. Frequent and multiple exposures to chemicals combined with an inadequate detoxification pathway do not ensure healthy development of the brain and immune system. We strive to limit toxic chemical exposures in both the inception and modulation of autism to protect best quality of life.”
The study analyzed 101 products for the presence of halogenated flame retardants. Samples were submitted from purchase locations around the United States.
• Four products contained penta-BDE, a substance so toxic it is banned in 172 countries and 12 U.S. states, and subject to a national phaseout.
• 29 products contained TDCPP or chlorinated Tris, a possible human carcinogen that was removed from children’s pajamas over health concerns in the late 1970s. In animal studies, chlorinated Tris has been associated with cancer of the liver, kidney, brain and testis, among other harmful effects.
• 14 products contained TCEP, a carcinogenic flame retardant on California’s Proposition 65 list of cancer-causing chemicals. Laboratory animal studies show TCEP causes tumors in the kidney and thyroid glands. In other laboratory animal studies, TCEP has been shown to cause reductions in fertility and poor sperm quality, and to interfere with brain signaling, causing hyperactivity. TCEP is no longer produced in Europe and has been identified in Canada as posing a risk to human health.
• 16 products contained Firemaster 550/600 flame retardants. EPA has predicted toxicity and required additional testing.
• 14 products contained TCPP, which is similar in chemical structure to Chlorinated Tris and TCEP, and has limited health information.
The Alliance for Toxic-Free Fire Safety, a new national network of health, consumer, and environmental groups, a subset of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, singles out an antiquated California regulation, Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117), as the reason for widespread use of flame retardants in baby products. The coalition is calling for urgent action to modernize California’s TB 117 in light of new scientific, health, environmental, and fire toxicity information about chemical flame retardants.
About the Autism Society
The Autism Society, the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. We do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. www.autism-society.org.
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