It’s estimated that Americans spend $340 BILLION every year on health care expenses and loss of productivity due to the effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals. Fire retardants was a major contributor to that study and adding up the amount of chronic disease it’s linked to. They are known to be ubiquitous, meaning you come into contact with them everywhere you go. But there is some good news about how you can lessen the impact they have on the health of your family. Mamavation has already revealed the shocking truth about toxic electronic and flame retardant chemicals found in black plastic utensils, common chemicals that actually lower your IQ & which retail brands are making your family safer as you are shopping. Now join us as we delve into more details of the hazards of flame retardants and the surprisingly easy ways you can lessen your exposure at home.
Flame retardant chemicals are added to furniture, household electronics, sleepwear, mattresses, paints and lacquers as required by fire safety standards. They actually sound pretty great, don’t they? Built-in, worry-free fire extinguishers in case of emergency. The problem is that commonly used flame retardants are extremely toxic, and they slough off and enter the body through skin contact and inhalation.
According to the European Flame Retardants Association,
More than 175 flame retardant compounds are currently on the market, and the industry is worth over $600 million dollars per year in the U.S. and nearly $2 billion worldwide.
And what’s worse, these toxic chemicals aren’t required to be listed on labels. Products that use flame retardants as secondary components (not crucial to the product itself) and those comprised of less than 1% flame retardants aren’t even required to list them on the material safety data sheet (MSDS).
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Dangers of Common Flame Retardants
A handful of flame retardant chemicals including polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) and chlorinated flame retardants (CFR) have been linked to dangerous heath effects like endocrine disruption, decreased fertility, immune suppression, altered sexual development, cancer, delayed brain development, lower IQ, and behavioral problems in humans. The dangers of flame retardants are so obvious that in November 2010, 145 scientists issued a joint statement documenting the health hazards of brominated and chlorinated flame retardant chemicals.
After the highly hazardous nature of brominated flame retardants was discovered, the government began to regulate and restrict their use, and introduced measures to eliminate the most toxic PBDEs in a phase-out process starting in 2005. As a result, manufacturers began using alternative organophosphate flame retardants (OPFR) to meet flammability standards instead. It appears though that OPFRs are similarly toxic in nature with confirmed negative health effects including endocrine disruption, decreased fertility and thyroid function.
Study Reveals Cleaning House and Hands Reduces Flame Retardant Exposure
In the new study published by the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, scientists researched the exposure to 7 different flame retardants and discovered a clear reduction of exposure to these chemicals achieved through routine increased cleaning inside the home. In fact, detectable exposure to toxic flame retardants was reduced by half in as little as 1-2 weeks through routine house cleaning and handwashing! Dusting with a damp cloth, wet mopping, and vacuuming are recommended specifically by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after assessing and confirming the distinct risks of flame retardant exposure.
With such dramatic results in just a few days, imagine the amount of toxic chemicals you could avoid in a year! It’s still very important to continue seeking out flame retardant-free products because flame retardant chemicals were still found at detectable levels even after increased cleaning and handwashing. Products made of certain materials like wool are not required to contain added flame retardants because the wool itself meets standards of flammability. And as usual, we need to raise our voices and demand clear labeling requirements while also encouraging manufacturers to develop safer alternatives to toxic flame retardants when their use is required by law.
Mamavation Curated Cleaning Supplies & Products
List of cleaning supplies like e-cloths, micro cloths, approved cleaning products
- e-Cloth Chemical-free Homecleaning Cloth Set
- OXO Good Grips Microfiber Hand Duster
- Temples Pride Microfiber Wet and Dry Mop Set
- Shark Rotator Vacuum with Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology + HEPA filter
- Charlie’s Soap
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Earth Friendly Products
- Greenerways Organic
- Greenshield Organic
Mamavation Curated Soaps & Hand Soaps
List of soaps, hand soaps, etc approved by Mamavation
- Dr. Squatch
- Earth Mama Organics
- Farmstead Apothecary
- Fieldworks Supply Company
- Hugo Naturals
- Indigo Wild Zum
- Level Naturals
- Makes 3
- PureGreen Naturals
- Seventh Generation
And if you’re looking for a community of like-minded people, join us on Facebook for support from other women who are just like you (ladies only and it’s FREE!). For more information about safer personal care products and other products for your home, pick up a copy of Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!). I’ll help you slay those foul-mouthed hidden dangers in your home so your family is safer. And for FREE updates, tips & tricks, product investigations and news, sign up for the Mamavation newsletter here.