Signs of Toxic Flame Retardants Found in Americans

One type has never been detected before, the other is a surprise because it was phased out of kids' pajamas

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists report that they found evidence of six kinds of toxic flame retardants in Americans.

The researchers tested urine samples from California residents and found detectable levels of a rarely studied group of flame retardants known as phosphates, and one -- tris-(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) -- has never been seen in Americans before.

TCEP, a known carcinogen that can also damage people's nervous and reproductive systems, was detected in 75 percent of the people tested, the scientists said. This flame retardant is used in polyurethane foam, plastics, polyester resins and textiles.

Another cancer-causing flame retardant detected in nearly all of the study participants was TDCIPP (chlorinated tris), which is similar to TCEP. This came as a surprise because TDCIPP was phased out of children's pajamas in the 1970s, the researchers noted.

The findings were published online Nov. 12 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

"We found that several toxic flame retardants are in people's bodies. When you sit on your couch, you want to relax, not get exposed to chemicals that may cause cancer," study author Robin Dodson, a scientist with the Silent Spring Institute, said in a news release from the nonprofit research group.

"Some flame retardants have been targeted for phase out, but unfortunately there are others that have largely been under the radar," Dodson added.

The researchers also found that people with the most TCEP and TDCIPP in their bodies lived in homes with the highest amounts of the chemicals in dust.

"This study provides more evidence that our homes are a primary source of exposure to toxic flame retardants," Julia Brody, executive director and senior scientist at the Newton, Mass.- based Silent Spring Institute, said in the news release.

The study was partly funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.