Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Flame retardants used in foam upholstered furniture and other products linked to neurodevelopmental delays in children

Date:
November 15, 2012
Source:
University of California - Berkeley
Summary:
A new study adds to the health concerns over flame retardants widely used in foam upholstered furniture. Researchers have found that children exposed to PBDEs in the womb and in early childhood had deficits in attention, cognition and fine motor skills at ages five and seven.

Prenatal and childhood exposure to flame retardant compounds are linked to poorer attention, fine motor coordination and IQ in school-aged children, a finding that adds to growing health concerns over a chemical prevalent in U.S. households.
Credit: WavebreakmediaMicro / Fotolia

Prenatal and childhood exposure to flame retardant compounds are linked to poorer attention, fine motor coordination and IQ in school-aged children, a finding by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health that adds to growing health concerns over a chemical prevalent in U.S. households.

UC Berkeley researchers link prenatal and childhood exposure to PBDE flame retardants, a prevalent chemical found in households, to deficits in motor and cognitive development among school-aged children.

The new study, published Nov. 15 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, focuses on PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, a class of persistent, endocrine-disrupting compounds widely found in foam furniture, electronics, carpets, upholstery and other consumer products. The chemicals easily leach out into the environment and are inhaled or ingested through dust, then accumulate in human fat cells.

The researchers collected blood samples taken from 279 women during pregnancy or at delivery, and from 272 of the children when they were 7 years old. Analyses of the blood samples were conducted at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

The children participated in a battery of standardized tests when they were 5 and 7 to assess their attention, fine motor coordination and IQ (verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory and processing speed). Mothers and teachers also completed assessment questionnaires to help evaluate the children's attention skills and behavior.

"This is the largest and most comprehensive study to date to examine neurobehavioral development in relation to body burden measures of PBDE flame retardants," said study lead author Brenda Eskenazi, Jennifer and Brian Maxwell Professor of Maternal and Child Health and Epidemiology. "We measured PBDEs both in the mothers during pregnancy and in the children themselves. It shows that there is a relationship of in utero and childhood levels to decrements in fine motor function, attention and IQ."

The new findings stem from a longitudinal study, the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS), which examines environmental exposures and reproductive health. The study participants are primarily Mexican-Americans living in an agricultural community in Monterey County. Earlier studies found that children from the CHAMACOS group had PBDE blood concentrations seven times higher than children living in Mexico.

Evidence of adverse human health effects from PBDE exposure has been steadily building over the past decade. Other CHAMACOS studies have also revealed links between flame retardant concentrations in mothers' blood and decreased fertility, lower birthweight babies and changes in thyroid hormone levels, even after controlling for exposure to pesticides and other environmental chemicals. And findings from other smaller studies have linked deficits in physical and mental development in young children to prenatal exposure to PBDEs.

"This new study is very important because it confirms earlier published research on the neurodevelopmental effects of PBDE exposure," said Heather Stapleton, associate professor of environmental chemistry at Duke University and one of the nation's leading experts on human exposure to flame retardant chemicals. Stapleton was not part of the UC Berkeley study.

Use of PBDEs increased in the 1970s in response to a California standard (Technical Bulletin 117) requiring that consumer furnishings be able to withstand a small open flame for 12 seconds without igniting.

Today, PBDEs can be found in the blood of up to 97 percent of U.S. residents, with those in California having levels nearly twice the national average, according to studies.

"Within the range of PBDE exposure levels, 5 percent of the U.S. population has very high exposure levels, so the health impact on children in these extremes could be even more significant," noted Stapleton.

There are three formulations of PBDEs -- pentaBDE, octaBDE and decaBDE -- that have been developed for commercial use as flame retardants. Penta- and octaBDE have both been banned for use in several U.S. states, including California, but they are still present in products made before 2004. In addition, three major manufacturers have agreed to phase out production of decaBDE by 2013.

"Even though pentaPBDEs are not being used anymore, old couches with foam that is disintegrating will still release PBDEs," said Eskenazi, director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health (CERCH) at UC Berkeley. "These chemicals will be in our homes for many years to come, so it's important to take steps to reduce exposure."

Examples of things that people can do at home include:

  • Seal any tears in couches and upholstered furniture
  • Damp mop and vacuum frequently
  • Wash hands frequently (especially important for children)

Co-authors of the study are Jonathan Chevrier, Stephen Rauch, Katherine Kogut, Kim Harley, Caroline Johnson, Celina Trujillo and Asa Bradman at CERCH; and Andreas Sjodin at the CDC's Division of Laboratory Sciences.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences provided major funding for this research.

Further information: http://cerch.org/environmental-exposures/pbde-flame-retardants/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Berkeley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eskenazi B, Chevrier J, Rauch SA, Kogut K, Harley KG, Johnson C, Trujillo C, Sjodin A, Bradman A. In Utero and Childhood Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE) Exposures and Neurodevelopment in the CHAMACOS Study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2012; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1205597

Cite This Page:

University of California - Berkeley. "Flame retardants used in foam upholstered furniture and other products linked to neurodevelopmental delays in children." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115133146.htm>.
University of California - Berkeley. (2012, November 15). Flame retardants used in foam upholstered furniture and other products linked to neurodevelopmental delays in children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115133146.htm
University of California - Berkeley. "Flame retardants used in foam upholstered furniture and other products linked to neurodevelopmental delays in children." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115133146.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WHO Calls for Ban on E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

WHO Calls for Ban on E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

AFP (Aug. 26, 2014) The World Health Organization called Tuesday on governments should ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, warning that they pose a "serious threat" to foetuses and young people. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A new study found fewer deaths from prescription drug overdoses in states that have legalized medical marijuana. But experts disagree on the results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Official: British Ebola Sufferer Receiving Experimental Drug

Official: British Ebola Sufferer Receiving Experimental Drug

AFP (Aug. 26, 2014) A British nurse infected with Ebola while working in Sierra Leone is being given the same experimental drug used on two US missionaries who have recovered for the disease, doctors in London say. Duration: 00:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins