Flame Retardants (in sleepwear and bedding) and their links with developmental disorders.

My kids don’t wear pajamas.

My kids wear comfy clothing to bed, because children’s pajamas contain flame retardants. Likewise,  crib mattresses,mattresses and bedding all contains flame retardants too. Actually  toxic flame retardants have been found in about 80% of all children’s products. I get the point of it. If there were a house fire, it makes the chances of these items catching fire less likely.

But did you know that wool is also flame resistant? It’s self extinguishing and it won’t melt. Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, campaign director for the nonprofit Washington Toxics Coalition, said, “Protecting children from fire doesn’t require exposing them to toxic chemicals.”

Flame retardants have since the 70’s been swapped out each time the current one is found to be substantially dangerous to health. One common flame retardant chemical that is applied to sleepwear and bedding products is called polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs.  “Products aren’t required to be labeled as containing these chemicals,” said Sager-Rosenthal. “Parents almost have to be scientists to determine if the chemical is contained.”

The EPA says that it “is concerned that certain PBDE congeners are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic to both humans and the environment.” The EPA also says, “PBDEs are not chemically bound to plastics, foam, fabrics, or other products in which they are used, making them more likely to leach out of these products.” In the last decade, some states have enacted bans on PCBEs and even the European Union, but they’re still out there causing problems.

I subscribe to the AAP’s newsbriefs and links email. Recently, an article in that email linked these flame retardants to developmental disorders and behavioral problems:

“Kids whose mothers had highest PBDE levels during pregnancy were more likely to be reported as having behavior problems by their teacher, the researchers said.

And every tenfold increase in children’s blood levels of PBDEs was linked with a four- to five-point decrease in IQ scores.”

As parents, it would be impossible to avoid exposure to PBDEs completely, because they are found in a number of products. Concentrating on the items where our children spend the most time would be most beneficial.

Since it’s not always feasible for people to buy new furniture and bedding, some of the less costly ways to reduce exposure are:

  • Don’t let your kids wear pajamas either.
  • Use an allergen cover over any bedding to reduce the PBDE particles from leaching out.
  • Seal tears on couches and upholstered furniture.
  • Vacuum and mop frequently to pick up the dust particles that may have leached out.
  • Air out any furniture or mattresses and long as possible before use.

Healthier ways to reduce exposure would be to:

Have you done anything to limit exposure to flame retardants in your household? If so, please share.

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