Flame retardant makers have created an ever-changing array of chemicals for use in thousands of everyday products. When these chemicals are tested (usually after years of use and exposure to our families) and evidence of their harmful effects mounts, regulators begin to scrutinize these chemicals more closely and consider restrictions. This starts the Toxic Shell Game: industry replaces the older, proven-harmful chemicals with newer ones that have not yet been studied, but could be just as harmful.
For decades flame retardant makers have shuffled in new harmful chemicals just as their older ones come under regulation. The chemicals change, but the risk to our families remains:
- Older toxic chemicals do not leave our homes when they are banned or phased-out. These toxic chemicals can linger for years in older furniture and other long-lasting products.
- Many flame retardants are persistent and can accumulate over time in the environment and in our bodies.
- Flame retardants have become so pervasive that they’re now found in meats, fish, and dairy products.
- Newborns and infants can also be exposed through the placenta and breast milk.
Our families are exposed to flame retardant chemicals every day, when the chemicals are released from furniture and other products in our homes, schools and workplaces.
Because children frequently put their fingers in their mouths, they ingest more flame retardant chemicals from dust. According to a recent study, children carry on average three times the levels of flame retardants in their bodies than the levels found in their mothers. Studies also show that children of color and children from low-income communities have more flame retardant chemicals in their bodies than white children do.