Image credit Lloyd Alter
In our house the dust bunnies chase the dog. According to Chemist Christine in her Parentables post Why Your Kids' First Pet Should be a Dust Bunny, this might be a good thing, because of the "hygiene hypothesis." But new research confirms that dust bunnies can expose people to PBDE flame retardants that Environmental Health Perspectives says may cause " decreased IQ and neurodevelopmental impairments in children and to fertility issues in adults." The research found "that levels of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants in dust from U. S. homes correlate strongly with the concentrations in residents' blood." This isn't news; John wrote Blood Levels Of Flame Retardants Correlate With House Dust Exposure four years ago.
The most dangerous PDBE is the PentaBDE that has been banned in Europe since 2004 and pretty much discontinued in the USA (it is banned in eleven states). Unfortunately, its primary use was in the polyurethane foam that is in all our old sofas and mattresses, and the older they get, the more they crumble.
The main route of exposure is believed to be hand-to-mouth, because the flame retardants are fat and oil soluble. So the study authors recommend that we should all wash our hands a lot.
More at Chemical and Engineering News.
As always, it is a design problem; Apple computer gets rid of flame retardants in its computers by switching to aluminum cases. I have suggested that we should put sprinklers in every housing unit so that flame retardants won't be required at all. John Laumer suggests that we should also get out of our cars:
Americans (the ones with the highest blood levels of PDBE's in the world) also spend more time in their cars than anyone else. You get the picture. One more reason to ride a bike.
More on Flame Retardants:
High Levels of Flame Retardants Found in Dogs
Do We Need Flame Retardants In Our Furniture and Electronics?
Les Moutons, They Are Full of Fire Retardants