April 1, 2008
- Southern Sierran as Firefighters Back Ban on Flame Retardants, July 2008, page 2
- Orange Coast Voice as Toxic Flame Retardants: Ubiquitious but toxic BFRs are everywhere, even the Artic, April 2008, page 11
Firefighters Back Banning Controversial Flame Retardant
Sarah S. Mosko, Ph.D.
BFRs are so ubiquitous that they are found in remote areas of the Artic and throughout the food chain, from zooplankton to dolphins and polar bears.
Your TV, mattress, couch and computer could be sources of man-made toxic chemicals building up in human tissues, including breast milk. Sounds crazy, but it’s not.
Many consumer products are imbued with a class of flame retardants considered by many to be bad news since they accumulate in fatty tissues, resist breakdown in the environment, and disrupt normal development in lab animals. They are called polybrominated diphenyl ethers or just brominated flame retardants (BFRs).
Introduced in the 1970’s, BFRs have become commonplace in upholstery foam, textiles and electronics because synthetic materials, like petroleum-based plastics, are generally more flammable. BFRs impede the spread of fire bycreating a layer of bromine gas around a heated product, keeping oxygen at bay. They comprise up to 30% of an item’s weight and migrate out over time into air, dust, and soil. Read the rest of this entry »
January 1, 2006
- Vall-E-Vents, the San Fernanado Valley Sierra Club Newsletter, Jan-Feb., 2006.
Plastics – an Unhealthy Habit?
(#6 of the Plastic Plague Series)
Sarah S. Mosko, Ph.D.
The endocrine disruptor bisphenol A is used in the synthesis of some wildly popular polycarbonate water bottles. Photo from ourstolenfuture.org
Plastics are lightweight, flexible, durable and can be molded into just about anything. They fill our toy chests, refrigerators, medicine cabinets and desk tops. Since the explosion of consumer plastics in the 1950s, we have come to rely on them to get us through our busy lives. But, there is a dark side to plastics as well, and it has to do with our health.
Plastics can pose threats to human health at all stages in their life cycle, with specific risks varying with the type of plastic.
During synthesis from petroleum or natural gas, toxic chemicals are used which can be released into the air and water supply. For example, vinyl chloride (a known carcinogen) is used to make polyvinyl chloride or PVC plastics, and a chemical called perfluorooctanaote (PFOA) used in the production of plastic-coated non-stick cookware is also carcinogenic. Furthermore, an assortment of “additives” are often needed to lend particular characteristics to a product.
Read the rest of this entry »