Saturday, July 11, 2009

Warning! Warning: Toxic Dolphins and Toxic Living

This is an announcement. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants) are causing troubles. We are not anti-corporation, but we are pro-dolphin and pro-child. Jake Richardson in has posted that scientists have found unusually large levels of flame retardant in dolphin blubber. The closer the dolphins are to downtown Miami, the more the chemical was concentrated.

These chemicals are applied to furniture, clothes and electronics and they slow the ignition of items in a burning room. No doubt they have saved lives, however, in the dolphin they cause the death of dolphin fetus'. According to Richardson, “The U.S. has historically led the world production of these man-made chemicals and was responsible for about 50% of the total global demand in 2001.”

These polybrominated diphenyl ethers are also found in humans and the longterm effects are unknown. I can't imagine it will be good. Anyone who has eaten seafood has ingested them. Some believe that it could interfere with our immune response and others believe that it will affect infant brain development. It is a known neurotoxin.

To make matters worse, it would not even be good enough to give up all seafood forever, because Deca, one of the polybrominated diphenyl ethers, has been found in apples. Now, I have been telling all the parents I work with, that Granny Smith, or green apples, don't tend to develop the scale that red apples do, and so have less fungicide on the apple even when they are not labled "organic." But now, we have to worry about polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or specifically Deca.

Amy Rosenthal reports in Enviroblog that the plastic pallets on which apples and peaches (especially) are stored and "hydrocooled" to keep them fresh, leach out the polybrominated diphenyl ethers onto the fruit.

She reports that these polybrominated diphenyl ethers have been associated with disruptions in brain development and hormone systems.

We have an epidemic of autism in this country. Can we afford to risk any more suspect chemicals in the environment of mothers and young children that will adversely affect brain development? Some flame retardants have already been banned. Can't we ban the rest to save our dolphins and children? At least let's keep them out of sea runoff areas, and away from any food.


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amy said...

Thanks for the shout-out in your post, Nancy! Regarding your question about washing produce: No one has studied the degree to which Deca contaminates produce and whether washing with uncontaminated water might lower the concentrations of the fire retardant on food. Washing is always a good precaution, though, so we at Environmental Working Group recommend you do so.

Nancy from said...

Thanks for your clarification and recommendation, Amy!