Common flame retardants found in mothers and children

Photo credit: Brian Teutsch Photo credit: Brian Teutsch

A recent study published by researchers at Duke University and the Environmental Working Group in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found evidence of harmful flame retardants in the urine of mothers and their children. The study examined metabolites specifically found in the human body once it has been exposed to and broken down flame retardants. They specifically looked for signs of exposure to the most commonly used flame retardants found in couches, pillows and other household products, and which enter the human body over time after chronic exposure. Children were found to have up to five times more of the metabolites in their urine than adults likely due to increased hand-mouth contact and more exposure to household dust. The comparisons of mothers and their own children made this a particularly strong study because differences in living situations, which could result in different exposure levels, were not a confounding factor. These results have serious health implications for children because some of the detected flame retardants in this study may be cancer-causing.