California Law Leads to High Levels of PBDE in Mexican-American Children

In a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, researchers discovered that Mexican-American children have seven times the level of the flame-retardant chemical PBDE inside their bodies when compared to children living in Mexico.

This finding is linked to the strict California fire laws that require, among other things, large amount of PBDE in upholstered furniture and carpets. When these materials degrade, the chemicals are freed from the furniture and become dust, which is then inhaled by the children. And because of its chemical nature, PBDE does not break down easily and can remain inside a child’s body for as long as a decade after inhalation.

Specifically, the study analyzed the blood of 547 children in the year 2007, approximately half of who were from Mexico and half from California, looking for the amount of PBDE contained in the blood. They then compared this result to the amount of PBDE in the blood of their pregnant mothers back in 2000.

Because of the studies that have demonstrated the negative effects of PBDE on both fertility and the neurological system, California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would alter the fire codes of the state to require less fire-retardant chemicals in home products.

The study was published online April 15 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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