Posted by | January 26, 2013


A new study from the prestigious UC Davis MIND Institute says it might!

BDE-49, a chemical closely related to PCB, is commonly found in flame retardants.  Even though BDE-49 has been shown to accumulate over time in the human body (and be present in fat, blood and breast milk), believe it or not, how it can harm your health or that of your unborn baby has not been studied in detail.

This new study from the MIND Institute showed that even tiny amounts of PDE-49 damages mitochondria, which have been likened to the nuclear power plants that fuel our bodies’ cells.  The science behind it?  The MIND Institute states, “One of a family of chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), BDE-49 can be absorbed through the skin or metabolized from other PBDEs. These chemicals have a similar structure to their more famous cousins PCBs and persist for long periods in the environment and the human body. They have been linked to a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.”

Can these harmful PBDEs be avoided?  Not easy to do if you live in a State like California which requires that flame retardants be used in a variety of products we use in our every day life.

“There are PBDEs in furniture, carpets, car seats, baby clothing — pretty much everywhere,” said Cecilia Giulivi, professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis and lead author for the study.  “We were surprised to find that you need only tiny concentrations of BDE-49 to do significant damage…similarly low concentrations of BDE-47 routinely are found in children’s blood samples.”

Not only may PBDEs be linked to autism, but also to overall cognitive development.  Researchers from the Center for Children’s Environmental Health, at Columbia University, measured PBDEs in the umbilical-cord blood of 210 New York women and then monitored their children’s neurological development. The researches discovered that the children with the most exposure to flame retardants while in their mother’s womb scored an average of five points lower on I.Q. tests than the children with lower exposures.  Don’t think 5 points matters?  This result has been compared to the effect lead exposure has on a child’s development.

Click to read more about this important study.

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