We Eat, Breathe and Absorb Flame Retardants

Alter Net
By Terry J. Allen, In These Times. Posted October 16, 2007.

The Environmental Protection Agency does almost nothing to regulate these chemicals.

EPA The Environmental Protection Agency

The old joke was: Americans eat so many preservatives, our corpses will never rot. Now, it turns out they won't burn either. Americans' bodies have the world's highest concentration of the flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) -- 10 to 40 times higher than Europeans -- and our chemical burden is doubling every three to five years.

アメリカ人の身体は世界で一番、難燃剤polybrominated diphenyl ethers(PBDE)が集中凝縮している。ヨーロッパ人の10~40倍だ。そしてこの物質の身体に対する重荷は3年~5年毎に2倍に増えている。

PBDEs, which resemble PCBs, are added to upholstery, computer parts, mattresses, fax machines, carpets, car seats and house wiring. We eat, absorb and breathe PBDEs daily, and they end up in everything from baby's brains and mother's milk to polar bears.


"What is in commercial products is getting into the environment," says EPA scientist Linda Birnbaum, "and what's in the environment is getting into wildlife and people."


Because the EPA does not require labeling, you are unlikely to know which, if any, PDBEs are in the mattress your baby sleeps on, the couch you potato on and the electronic equipment you surf the web with.

Surf 磯波surfing 波乗りをする。から来た言葉で、滑る様にモニターに移るウエッブサイトを次から次へと見ていく事。

Web (web site) ウエッブ サイト日本ではホームページ
Electronic equipment 電化製品
Electronic equipment you surf the web.

Nor the risks. Despite the chemical's ubiquity and 30-year history, the EPA says, "Our toxicology database [on PBDEs] is inadequate to truly understand the risk."


That stance serves the $2.9 billion flame retardant industry -- an industry that shreds logic by arguing simultaneously that the effects on humans are unknown and that exposures are too low to cause concern.


But evidence of the danger is piling up. While test animals exposed to high levels of PBDEs developed tumors, even low levels caused deficits in learning and memory that worsened with age. The chemical may also impact behavior, disrupt endocrine function, irreparably damage reproductive systems and cause thyroid disease. A small decrease in thyroid hormone levels can produce cognitive impairment in children, including lowered IQ.


The three main types -- penta-, octa- and deca-BDEs -- are named for the number of bromine atoms. Penta and octa are now widely recognized as dangerous. After the European Union, Canada and a few U.S. states banned them, U.S. manufacturers saw the handwriting on the wall, and perhaps the lawsuits in the wings, and ceased production as of 2005.

 三つの主なタイプ- ペンタ(3)、オクタ(8)、デカ(10)、- BDEsは臭素原子の数によって名付けられています。ペンタ、とオクタは現在広く危険だと認識されています。EU、カナダ、とアメリカの幾つかの州がそれらを禁止した後、アメリカの製造業者は壁の殴り書きを見た様に、そして恐らく訴訟が待ち構えているのを見越して、製造を2005年の段階で中止した。

Recycled materials, like carpet and drapery backing, as well as items produced before the phase-out, may contain as much as 30 percent penta or octa. According to Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News, since the 2004 E.U. ban, foreign sources are dumping "significant amounts" of octa- and penta-laden products in the United States.


Dumping はダンピングで捨てること。此処では経済用語のダンピングではなく、EU圏内で売れないしアメリカでの禁止が発効する前に、本当に捨てる様に売ると言う意味。

The United States still manufactures deca-BDE and uses it in electronics, upholstery and textiles, despite its status as a likely carcinogen and its ability to break down into dioxin-like molecules.


"Some [Americans] have concentrations [of deca] not dissimilar to amounts in animals that cause cancer of the thyroid and liver," says Birnbaum.


PBDEs, like 62,000 other chemicals grandfathered in by the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, never underwent an approval process. In 2006, the Government Accountability Office found that the EPA "does not routinely assess the human health and environmental risks of existing chemicals and faces challenges in obtaining the information necessary to do so ... Even when EPA has toxicity and exposure information," it has had difficulty demonstrating risks or pursuing limits or bans on production and use. In 31 years, the EPA has required testing for fewer than 200 grandfathered chemicals.

 PBDEs、を含む他の62,000の化学物質の様な1976年の有毒物質抑制条令で適用を免除された物質は、政府の製造販売許可の検査、試験過程を経ていない。2006年の政府のアカウンタビリティー オフィスは“EPAは現存する化学物質の人間の健康と環境に対する害、危険度の評価,審査を定期的に実施していない。そして評価、審査の為に必要な情報の収集に障害をきたしている。EPAが毒性と有毒物質に対する人体への影響の情報を持っていても、危険性の証明、有毒物質の製造販売抑制、製造販売の禁止などの実施が出来ないでいる。この31年間にEPAは1976年有害物質抑制条令を免除された化学物質の中で200種類以下の物質に対してしか試験、検査を命じていない。

It used to be assumed that most PBDE contamination came through eating dairy, meat and fish. Increasingly, researchers are looking at indoor air where concentrations are 15 to 50 times higher than outside. In addition to sources such as dust from polyurethane foam and fabric, PBDEs can emit gas at 84 degrees -- a temperature common inside computers, cars and houses. The gas then clings to dust particles we breathe.


The link between inhaled PBDE and thyroid disease was strengthened by a recent study on cats. Environmental Science & Technology traced an epidemic of deadly feline hyperthyroid disease back to the '80s when PBDEs first proliferated. Tests on household cats found that PBDE flame retardant had "a clear association" with thyroid problems, said Birnbaum, a co-author of the study. Cats are particularly vulnerable because they live close to treated carpets and furniture, and breathe PBDE, as well as ingest it through grooming and food.


Another household member with similar exposures -- minus the self-grooming, but with an added propensity to put everything into mouths -- is children. A National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences study found that PBDE levels in infants and children were two- to threefold higher than in adults.


The EPA, while calling for more research, relies on industry testing and resists calls to ban or label PBDEs, arguing that until there are safer alternatives, their usefulness in retarding burning outweighs the risk.


Europe, which uses alternative flame retardants, begs to disagree; Americans must beg the EPA to honor its middle name.



I beg your pardon. 失礼。ごめんなさい。私は貴方の許しを請う。と言う意味。聞き返すときなどに、I beg your pardon.失礼(もう一度言って下さい。)と言う事になる。
此処ではEurope disagrees と言わないでEurope begs to disagreeで“ヨーロッパは同意いたしかねる。”と言う古臭い言い方をしているのは、後でAmerican must beg the EPA to honor its middle name.と来て洒落ているのです。

Middle name ミドルネームは protection“保護”ですから環境を保護する様にEPAは名前の通り行動しなければならないと言う事。

Terry J. Allen is a senior editor of In These Times. Her work has appeared in Harper's, The Nation, New Scientist and other publications.
テリー.J.アレンはIn These Timesの首席編集者。彼女の記事はHarper’s, The Nation, New Scientist,に発表されている。

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