What are PBDEs?Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardant chemicals added to a wide variety of household products to delay combustion. PBDEs have been used extensively for the last 30 years with the U.S. and Canada being the largest consumers. Studies have shown that PBDEs are toxic and are escaping from these products and accumulating in people and the environment throughout the world. The highest levels of PBDEs have been found in the U.S. and Canada and are more than 10 times higher than those found in Europe. PBDEs have been found in human breast milk, blood and fat, house dust and indoor air, fish, wildlife, birds, beef, dairy products and sediments.
There are three main types of PBDEs used in consumer products: Penta-BDE, Octa-BDE and Deca-BDE. Each of these types of PBDEs has different uses and different toxicity. Manufacturers of Penta-BDE and Octa-BDE agreed to voluntarily stop producing these two forms of PBDEs by the end of 2004. In 2009, three major producers of Deca-BDE arrived at an agreement with U.S. EPA to stop producing, importing, and selling Deca-BDE by the end of 2012.
PBDE LawWashington's PBDE Law (RCW 70.76) placed several restrictions on the use of PBDEs in products sold in Washington State. Under this law:
How do I prevent exposure to PBDEs?The Washington State Department of Health has additional information on how humans are exposed to PBDEs and how to reduce exposure. In addition, the Northwest Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at the University of Washington has produced a factsheet on PBDEs for pediatric health professionals.
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