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PBDE dust concentrations  (Source: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY)
Chemicals and their combustion products cause disease, but legislators still change votes after receiving campaign contributions.

Recent scientific research discovered that people in California have significantly higher levels of brominated flame-retardants in their blood than people who live in other areas of the United States or in Europe. The work published by Dr. Ami R. Zota et al on October 1, 2008 shows that the levels of dangerous polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) chemicals are twice as high in the blood of Californians than in people living in other parts of the United States.

Furthermore, household dust from different American cites and states, Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada was also analyzed for PBDE content. The dust in California households had four to ten times more PBDE flame-retardants than other states and 200 times more PBDEs than European dust. California has a unique law that requires furniture to be able to resist fire caused by an open flame for 12 seconds. In order to accomplish this resistance to burning, furniture foam and fabric is treated up to 30% by weight with chemical flame-retardants such as PBDE -- millions of pounds of PBDEs have been used since the California law was enacted in 1975.

Legislation in California that would have replaced Technical Bulletin 117, a 30 year-old state flammability standard for foam in furniture and baby products, failed in August by four votes after three Californian Senators changed their votes from a yes to a no and one Senator went from abstaining to voting no. In the year prior to the vote, these four Democratic Senators -- Leland Yee, Dean Florez, Gloria Negrete McLeod and Ron Calderon -- all received campaign contributions from Chemtura and/or Albemarle, which are flame-retardant and chemical manufacturing companies.

The bill was proposed because scientific research has shown that chemical flame-retardants are toxic to humans and other living things. The combustion of halogenated flame-retardants such as PBDEs also creates toxic dioxin and furan chemicals. According to the National Toxicology Program, any exposure to dioxin will eventually cause cancer.

Fire fighters are at particular risk because they are exposed to soot containing dioxin and furans on a regular basis. One fire fighter from Los Angeles County, Crystal Golden-Jefferson, passed away on July 20, 2005 from work place related non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She worked as a fire fighter paramedic for 19 years. While the specific cause of Golden-Jefferson’s cancer cannot be determined definitively, dioxins are known to cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Opponents to this bill, AB706, also called The Crystal Golden-Jefferson Furniture Safety and Fire Prevention Act, argued that banning chemical retardants would jeopardize public health by reducing levels of fire safety; proponents said threat from fires would not increase since less-toxic alternatives are available and maintained that the bill would decrease health impacts from toxic flame-retardant chemicals.

Rather than ban specific toxic substances, AB 706 would have required the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to develop alternative assessment methods for fire retardant chemicals to categorize the chemicals’ relative safety. DTSC would have had the authority to prohibit or limit the use of fire retardant chemicals determined to be too hazardous for use. It also would have required that all products subject to state furniture flammability rules indicate on a label already mandated by state law whether they contain brominated or chlorinated chemicals. There is no federal law that protects consumers from toxic chemicals such as flame-retardants -- chemicals are assumed innocent until they have caused much harm and are proven guilty.

Brominated flame-retardants, such as those found in house dust and human blood, are put into couches, airline seats, electronic casings, building insulations and fabrics. They are slowly leaching out into the ambient environment because 1) they are semi-volatile chemicals and 2) they are not chemically attached to other material components in the products to which they are added. PBDEs evaporate into the air, settle in dust, get into water and food and leave a thin film on walls. They also get on bodies and fingers and into mouths, thereby increasing human exposure.

The next article in this series will look at the toxicity of PBDEs and related chemicals in biological systems such as the human body.

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By therealnickdanger on 10/29/2008 9:43:45 AM , Rating: 5
I would love to see a comparitive list of products deemed safe by the government that turn out to be deadly versus a list of products that are perfectly safe that are outlawed due to poor research and special interests.

RE: Expletive.
By Ordr on 10/29/08, Rating: 0
RE: Expletive.
By Shining Arcanine on 10/29/2008 10:49:35 AM , Rating: 2
I concur.

RE: Expletive.
By dever on 10/29/2008 2:18:21 PM , Rating: 3
Another example is the chemical Tris. In 1973 the Consumer Product Safety Commission created a mandate to make children's sleepwear flame resistant. The result was that manufacturer's implemented one of the few solutions available... impregnating 99% of children's sleepwear with Tris. In 1977, it was found to be a potential carcinogen and was banned. If the market had implemented Tris on it's own, it would have been a moderate introduction without the heavy hand of government forcing it on nearly 100% of children.

RE: Expletive.
By Samus on 10/30/08, Rating: 0
RE: Expletive.
By murphyslabrat on 10/31/2008 2:04:52 AM , Rating: 4
It really is amazing how Californians can be such "flaming retards."

RE: Expletive.
By AlexWade on 10/29/2008 12:52:18 PM , Rating: 5
I did some research on DDT. When used in moderation (which we were not doing) it is safe to everything except mosquitoes. I know of a teacher who has some DDT and every year he takes a spoonful and eats in front of his new class. He has been doing this for years. When used as much as we were using it, it caused eagle eggs to have weak shells. After DDT was outlawed, eagle populations started to rebound. The key is not to overdo it. However, in places where DDT was banned than the ban was lifted, it was found to be ineffective against mosquitoes.

Someone may correct me, because I cannot vouch for the accuracy of that. That is just what I learned after some research.

RE: Expletive.
By Ordr on 10/29/2008 12:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
You're absolutely right.
Tens of millions have died of malaria as the result of it being made illegal.

RE: Expletive.
By Parhel on 10/29/2008 1:44:55 PM , Rating: 1
If DDT is not effective against mosquitoes in the areas where malaria is present, how exactly is the ban on DDT responsible for the number of malaria deaths?

RE: Expletive.
By Oregonian2 on 10/29/2008 1:51:21 PM , Rating: 2
Where did you get information that DDT isn't effective in areas with Malaria? AFAIK it certainly is.

RE: Expletive.
By Parhel on 10/29/2008 2:29:58 PM , Rating: 4
The post above the one I responded to, by AlexWade, said it wasn't effective. The post I replied to agreed with that statement, then proceeded to blame the ban on DDT for tens of millions of deaths.

My understanding is that DDT is still somewhat effective, but has lost much of it's original effectiveness due to mosquitoes developing a resistance to it.

Regardless, blaming the ban on DDT for all of the malaria deaths since that ban is wrong. It's the kind of silly talk that people throw out when they have an axe to grind against environmentalists, and don't mind distorting facts and history to do so.

It takes for granted that without a ban, DDT would have wiped out malaria completely. DDT was banned for agriculural use only, and only by the governments of individual countries, none of which had the tropical climates necessary for malaria to thrive. The use of DDT to fight malaria was never banned, and never stopped.

RE: Expletive.
By Spuke on 10/29/2008 3:57:59 PM , Rating: 2
and don't mind distorting facts and history to do so.
And environmentalists don't do this? LOL!

RE: Expletive.
By Parhel on 10/29/2008 4:18:39 PM , Rating: 3
Funny, I can't seem to find where in my post I said environmentalists didn't distort facts or history.

RE: Expletive.
By Oregonian2 on 10/29/2008 8:07:01 PM , Rating: 2
You mean

However, in places where DDT was banned than the ban was lifted, it was found to be ineffective against mosquitoes


I wondered what that meant. :-)

RE: Expletive.
By Oregonian2 on 10/29/2008 1:49:42 PM , Rating: 3
Although not quite to that level, non-acceptance of irradiated food has resulted in a very large number of deaths in the US as well a huge numbers of sicknesses completely unnecessarily, just because people are afraid the word "radioactive" in any context and not wanting to become radioactive themselves.

Oddly, commercial spices have all been irradiated for more than twenty years without anybody glowing in the night AFAIK. Probably acceptable because people don't know about it.

RE: Expletive.
By CascadingDarkness on 10/30/2008 12:41:55 PM , Rating: 2
I'll top that. I wish all my food was radiated .

Nothing is better than an iguana on a stick and a Nuka-Cola to wash it down with.

RE: Expletive.
By Oregonian2 on 10/30/2008 8:45:43 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, that's the very silly thinking that has costed so many people their lives (even if you do it as a joke).

RE: Expletive.
By foolsgambit11 on 10/29/2008 3:40:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah? And tens of millions have died of tobacco not being made illegal.

DDT was prohibited in the U.S. The U.S. doesn't have a malaria problem. Pretty much everywhere else, it is still legal for vector control - i.e., killing mosquitoes to keep down malaria. In fact, it is still on the World Health Organization's list of insecticides recommended for indoor residual spraying to prevent mosquitoes, although it isn't as effective as it once was.

Not only that, but there are alternatives to DDT. Most do have some toxicity risk, and they are frequently more expensive, but the U.S. can afford it. We do it with unleaded gasoline instead of the old cheaper leaded blends, for instance.

So before you go all crazy accusing those Socialists up in Washington posing as Democrats of being baby-killers, get your facts straight. In 2006, for instance, the CDC reported 6 fatalities from malaria from among 1564 cases reported in the United States. In the vast majority of those cases, the disease was contracted while abroad in West Africa, especially by those who failed to adhere to their prophylaxis regimen. 60 years ago malaria was endemic to the U.S. Southwest, but DDT and other pesticides have virtually wiped it out, to the point where the CDC has trouble confirming cases of mosquito-borne transmission in the U.S.

It was only once the risks outweighed the benefits that DDT was banned in the U.S. No matter how safe you think DDT is, would you waste all of that money spraying it everywhere to prevent a handful of U.S.-originating malaria cases annually, most likely resulting in less than one death per decade?

RE: Expletive.
By Spuke on 10/29/2008 4:04:42 PM , Rating: 2
U.S.-originating malaria cases annually, most likely resulting in less than one death per decade?
I don't think those posts were referring to just the US but worldwide deaths from malaria.

RE: Expletive.
By Parhel on 10/29/2008 4:34:39 PM , Rating: 2
don't think those posts were referring to just the US but worldwide deaths from malaria.

That's right, but those posts were attempting to link a ban on agricultural use of DDT in the US to the number of incidences of malaria around the world. This despite the fact that in the US, DDT is still, and has always been, legal for use in disease control.

Not only are those posts false, but in fact the opposite is true. Banning the use of DDT for agricultural use has actually helped its effectiveness as a disease control agent as mosquitoes have developed less resistance to DDT than they would have if it was more widespread.

RE: Expletive.
By Ringold on 10/29/2008 5:39:31 PM , Rating: 1
Not only are those posts false, but in fact the opposite is true. Banning the use of DDT for agricultural use has actually helped its effectiveness as a disease control agent as mosquitoes have developed less resistance to DDT than they would have if it was more widespread.

Perhaps it's just me, but I'd of rather obliterated malaria as close to completely as possible in a massive blitz of DDT spraying and vastly reduced the problem versus this half-ass path we ended up taking. Perhaps if we'd done that, malaria would've been localized. Well, I guess it's localized now, as in all of Africa. But hey! They're poor, who cares? We saved some African eagles.

RE: Expletive.
By Samus on 10/30/2008 4:07:52 AM , Rating: 2
DDT doesn't prevent malaria, it just keeps the suckers away. For that, DET (which replaces DDT) is more effective. And its safer, more effective, costs less and is thus more available.

Since it is non-toxic unlike DDT (it was discontinued for causing resperatory problems in rats if I remember correctly) they could potentially make a pill version of it that you sweat out and make you completely unattractive to the bugs.

RE: Expletive.
By Cypherdude1 on 10/30/2008 5:31:28 AM , Rating: 2
You are correct, your teacher never had any problems drinking DDT every year. His neighbors have even grown accustomed to greeting his children...... who also happen to look like mosquitoes.

B ^D
I know of a teacher who has some DDT and every year he takes a spoonful and eats in front of his new class. He has been doing this for years.

RE: Expletive.
By BBeltrami on 10/29/2008 11:43:29 AM , Rating: 3
Hell what about the stuff that's good, then bad, then good?

In the 70's it was, "The Incredible, edible, egg." Then in the 80's, cholesterol in eggs was going to KILL you. In the 90's we find out they're just fine.

Beyond that, how many lives have been saved because of the retardants? When I was a kid people were dying at an alarming rate from fires from cigarettes lighting the couch, bedding, etc. Now the miracle is a curse (or so we are to believe).

If this stuff is so bad, what's going to happen to us after a couple decades of MTBE in our water table?

Am I the only person getting sick and tired of being CONSTANTLY told what's going to kill me? From perfume products to overhead power lines to beef to PCBs to aircraft contrails, I've had it with the FUD!

Vive le FUD revolution!!!!

RE: Expletive.
By nosfe on 10/29/2008 11:52:18 AM , Rating: 5
you do realize that that attitude is going to kill you, right?

RE: Expletive.
By Grast on 10/29/2008 12:46:15 PM , Rating: 2
I have better idea. DO NOT SMOKE IN BED OR WHILE YOUR TIRED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you are dumb enough to light your couch on fire becuase you fell asleep while smoking, you DESERVE to be burned alive. The only feeling which I have is that I feel sorry for any children you created. It is obvious you too STUPID live life without setting your self on fire and thus that STUPIDITY was probably passed on to your children.

The only tradegy is the government mandating dangerous chemicals and then not requiring documention be attached to products which have been treated.

I guess I will buy all of my new furniture from out of state.

Hey BBeltrami dont you have to something better to do.... Ohhh yah, fall asleep and set your self on fire.

RE: Expletive.
By Parhel on 10/29/2008 1:47:14 PM , Rating: 3
It's so obvious it almost shouldn't have to be said, but a fire can kill people besides the one who started it.

RE: Expletive.
By MrBlastman on 10/29/2008 2:00:18 PM , Rating: 3
I love when people insult others' intelligence and then misspell several things.

RE: Expletive.
By pomaikai on 10/29/2008 2:21:25 PM , Rating: 2
When was the last time spelling killed someone?

RE: Expletive.
By Smartless on 10/29/2008 3:18:51 PM , Rating: 3
It almost killed Damon Wayans in the Last Boyscout.

"I forgot to tell you Bom means F*ck You in Polish."

RE: Expletive.
By Parhel on 10/29/2008 5:00:51 PM , Rating: 2
My favorite part:

you too STUPID live life

RE: Expletive.
By BBeltrami on 10/29/2008 9:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
Hehehe, classic. Lemme guess, you're the epitome of a modern parental role model AND open mindedness.

"Tradegy"... Priceless irony... Tell me it's sarcasm 'cause it's absolutely brilliant!

RE: Expletive.
By BansheeX on 10/29/2008 2:39:06 PM , Rating: 2
Stevia and Hemp/Marijuana should be unbanned.

Our FDA is so bought an paid for, it's not even funny. Sometimes I wish they didn't have the power to ban anything, just require labels, define terms, and offer information.

RE: Expletive.
By myhipsi on 10/30/2008 9:00:49 AM , Rating: 3
Our FDA is so bought an paid for, it's not even funny. Sometimes I wish they didn't have the power to ban anything, just require labels, define terms, and offer information.

I couldn't agree more.

It shouldn't even be legal to ban plants anyway. It's actually rediculous when you think about it. It's not surprising though, the FDA is a revolving door of corruption.


Michael Taylor - Taylor, a former attorney for Monsanto, went to work for the FDA, where he helped draft FDA's policy declaring that genetically modified foods are "generally regarded as safe" (GRAS). While at the FDA, Taylor also wrote the policy that exempted biotech foods from labeling. His former law firm, which still represented Monsanto, then began suing dairies that labeled their milk rBGH-free (Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone to increase milk production). After these policies were written, Taylor left the FDA and eventually went back to work for Monsanto.

Daniel E. Troy - Marking a dramatic shift in U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy, Troy, formerly a representative of U.S. pharmaceutical firms and now lead counsel for the FDA, informed drug companies that he would provide aid in torpedoing certain lawsuits, especially those with claims of medications causing unexpected or harmful side effects. As of Septmeber 2, 2008, Troy will be lead counsel for the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline according to the Wall Street Journal

There are other examples, but for the sake of brevity I won't go on.

Moral of the story: Educate yourself and use you own judgement when buying things that may affect your health in some way, don't depend on a corrupt government agency to do it for you.

RE: Expletive.
By therealnickdanger on 10/30/2008 9:02:56 AM , Rating: 2
I definitely agree with you about stevia, it's fantastic stuff. I don't think it's banned anymore though, I buy it regularly from my local co-op.

RE: Expletive.
By twoton3dska on 10/30/2008 11:37:02 AM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't that be the day?

Look at the bright side
By JSSheridan on 10/29/2008 9:46:27 AM , Rating: 5
At least the chances of being a victim of spontaneous human combustion are lower than average.

This just shows....
By marvdmartian on 10/29/2008 10:18:25 AM , Rating: 5
....why politicians shouldn't be allowed to accept campaign "contributions" from businesses.

Too often, they're thinly veiled bribes, which only serve to make the politico the puppet of a corporation, versus the representative of the people that elected them.

This explains everything!
By MrBlastman on 10/29/2008 10:24:36 AM , Rating: 3
It all makes sense now, why Californians are the way they are...

Blame it on the sunshine? Nope
Blame it on the beachbound hardbody distractions? Nope
Blame it on the silly parties and Hollywood? Nope

They've been drinking and inhaling this stuff for a long time. Guess it builds up and leads to Kalifornianitis.

Finally the truth is out, and we can all rest assured, it is a contained epidemic.

RE: This explains everything!
By docmilo on 10/29/2008 10:51:53 AM , Rating: 2
They've been drinking and inhaling this stuff for a long time. Guess it builds up and leads to Kalifornianitis.
Actually, I think that's Kalifornication.

They should be getting some kind of discount on their home fire insurance policies, too.

By Kougar on 10/29/2008 10:44:21 AM , Rating: 2
If people are really surprised or upset over this news, then they should check out what they are exposing themselves to when driving every day. Introduction:

Actual site:

I'd always wondered....
By ThisSpaceForRent on 10/29/2008 11:04:09 AM , Rating: 2
This explains why everything is a carcinogen in California. They have more of everything.

If I didn't know better...
By HostileEffect on 10/29/2008 11:50:49 AM , Rating: 2
It would seem that the beings of the alien world of California gain a natural +1 fire resistance at birth, we must investigate!

Doctor, probe.

I think it may help if dust more, drink clean water, and wash their food before they eat it, but aren't these things common sense?

SO one question....
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 10/29/2008 1:03:48 PM , Rating: 2
Does that mean that people from California are less like to catch on fire then other places around the nation? Is this where fire eaters are raised?

The question might be, why are we surprised? In the US we put more steroids in our cows to grow faster.... then end up with bigger people (on average). We add more chemicals to tobacco products and greater number of people die. We add more pesticides to our farm fields then end up with plants that yield lower nutritional values. So, when you put more flame-retardants into the builds, in areas that are more likely to have wild fires....

We need to worry less about trying to change nature and worry more about living with nature. Example: you do not want to deal with wild fires or mud slides - do not live in California; you do not want to deal with hurricanes - do not live on the coast; you do not want to deal with tornados - do not live in the mid west.

By foolsgambit11 on 10/29/2008 3:07:42 PM , Rating: 2
What a thorough article. And a promise of more to come. Who is this mysterious Leona Scanlan?

I wonder why the rest of the U.S. doesn't have much of a problem with these chemicals. After all, frequently where California law is stringent, product manufacturers make all of their products comply with the law, even when they aren't being sold exclusively in California. Think "This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer" on everything. Or 'equal time' coverage during the California gubernatorial race with Arnold Schwarzenegger by all networks. Or the existence of bottled water.

I guess the flame-proofing is happening after production only on the products going to California? What about products manufactured in California for the rest of the nation/world? With smoking indoors so much less common than in 1975, is there really as much of a need for the kind of fireproofing the original law mandated? I can't imagine many other sources of fire that 12 seconds would help keep from getting out of hand.

I hope the next article clarifies what the specific research is on the risks of exposure to PBDE's, at what levels, over what periods, by what vectors (inhalation, ingestion, skin contact), &c., &c. That, or maybe I could just do the research myself....

That explains it
By Rob94hawk on 10/29/2008 4:08:00 PM , Rating: 2
No wonder that state is so messed up. They're all internally f-d up.

By skeptic2 on 10/30/2008 9:26:55 AM , Rating: 2
The point is that TB 117 has not helped California reduce fire deaths caused by furniture that's lit with a lighter or match (who has matches anymore?) better than the other 49 states that have no such law. Most fires in furniture are caused by a dropped cigarette. People smoke less now. There are also new cigarettes in the state that go out on their own. The FR chemicals do not help reduce cigarette caused fires. So why dump in the questionable chemicals? It's all about money for the chem makers - not a real safety improvement.

The Idiot Factor
By DXRick on 10/30/2008 3:07:11 PM , Rating: 2
We, in CA, are world leaders in passing laws that protect ourselves from our own idiocy or the idiocy of others. In this case, we can safely fall asleep on our couches and beds with a lit cigarette or light our own farts without undue risk.

Lately, we have passed laws preventing people from holding their cellphones to their head or text messaging while driving. However, I still see idiots doing the former all the time. Naturally, a true Californian believes that everyone else is an idiot, and that they are exempt from such anti-idiocy laws.

Donating Blood
By snownpaint on 10/29/08, Rating: 0
"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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