Flame retardants linked to autism - AmericaNowNews.com

Flame retardants linked to autism

Since the late 1970's, certain chemicals have been used as flame retardants in all kinds of consumer products, reducing deaths from fire by nearly 50 percent. It's an amazing statistic, but now there is fear that these compounds could pose a serious and invisible danger.

"Flame retardant chemicals are everywhere. You can find them in your home, in your electronics, in your upholstery, in your kitchen. They're in your office, in your school, in your car. They surround us every minute of every day," explains Dr. Cara Natterson.

When flame retardant chemicals, known as PBDE's, first came on the market in the 1970's, no one expected they would end up inside our bodies.

"They might come into contact with our skin," warns Dr. Natterson. "But we didn't really think of them as something we ingested. But if you think about it, your upholstery ages, your wires crack, your keyboard gets old and things fall off. And so all of these little bits of flame retardant are around our homes and our workplaces and our schools in the form of dust bunnies or little dust debris. And we are breathing them in."

Children often have the greatest exposure to these chemicals.

"Kids are at much higher risk than adults, because a baby who crawls or a toddler who toddles over to a windowsill and is balancing with their hands are inhaling the dust and debris," she adds. 
The big fear is that flame retardant PBDE's have been associated with -- although not proven to cause -- neuro-developmental disorders in children such as autism.

"I understand parental concern, and it makes sense to me," says Dr. Natterson. "The problem is that these chemicals are everywhere."

Dr. Natterson says there are simple things you can do to reduce your family's exposure to PBDE's. One way is replacing old mattresses with ones made from organic materials. Another is simply practicing good cleaning habits.

"Clean up the dust bunnies. I like using a wet mop because it works better than sweeping, which can aerosolize the dust and just get it back up into the air," she explains. "You can use a filter, like a HEPA filter or an air filter if you want. Wipe your windowsills. Use a vacuum. Vacuums are great; vacuums with filters work even better."

Dr. Natterson takes a common-sense approach with her children.

"I don't lose a lot of sleep over it with my own kids. I just keep my home clean and believe keeping a clean house is nine-tenths of the battle with PBDE's," she says.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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