Toxins are part of our environment. The problem is that many of the toxins that end up in our bodies are meant to solve another problem in our life. One of those toxins is flame retardants.
The International Joint Commission on Wednesday advised the governments of Canada and the United States to take strong action on toxic flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers that have accumulated across the Great Lakes.
The report says PBDEs are a concern because they are persistent — they never break down — and bioaccumulate up the food chain, toxic to both humans and the environment. Health effects in humans possibly associated with PBDE exposure relate primarily to thyroid disorders, reproductive health, cancers and neurobehavioral and developmental disorders. Adverse impacts on wildlife include increased mortality rates, malformations, and thyroid system and metabolic impairment, the report notes.
The flame retardants have been used for decades in products to reduce the risk of fire and now have accumulated in the Great Lakes at levels that could be harmful to human health, the IJC notes.
PBDEs are present in the sediment, water and air of all five Great Lakes — although lakes Huron and Erie have the highest levels — and the chemicals show up in people and wildlife who live near the lakes.
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