Many precautions go into creating our everyday household items, such as furniture and electronics, but the flame retardants that supposedly improve fire safety can pose a health risk.
Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are commonly added to plastics to make them flame retardant, but they are also found in electronics, paint, furniture polish, and more.
A recent study from Stockholm University published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology reported elevated levels of brominated biphenyls, BB-209, in cats that developed hyperthyroidism, a disease that affects the entire nervous system and organs, including the eyes, kidneys, heart and brain.
“BFRs measured in cats are known endocrine disruptors,” Jana Weiss of Stockholm University’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Analytical Chemistry said in a recent statement.
According to a major investigation by the Chicago Tribune, hazardous flame retardants are not even effective in preventing fire, but they are toxic and known to significantly alter neurodevelopment.
The European Union has banned the use of some BFRs, but other countries have not enacted restrictions. In the United States, industrial chemicals are presumed safe unless proven otherwise, under the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.
Stockholm University is currently conducting an ongoing investigation not only into cats, but also the potential impact on humans. MiSSE — Mixture of Endocrine Compounds with a Focus on the Thyroid — uses cats as a model of human BFR exposure and plans to investigate how household dust contributes to the accumulation of toxic levels, and how these compounds can disrupt thyroid hormone.
Breaking news reports These compounds may also pose a risk to young children and their health.
While cats devour vehicles by accumulating dust and cleaning themselves, children are also at risk due to their tendency to put everything in their mouths.
“It is very dangerous when young children ingest these substances because exposure during development can have consequences later in life, such as thyroid disease,” says Jana Weiss in a Stockholm University press release.
The proposed ongoing study will investigate BB-209 and potential sources of exposure, especially since it does not occur naturally in humans.
With recent research and important findings directly linking health to these dangerous chemicals, progress is being made toward regulations to protect you (and your cats) from BFRs.