Print 49 comment(s) - last by murphyslabrat.. on Oct 31 at 2:04 AM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

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.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
Latest Headlines

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
Snapchat’s New Sunglasses are a Spectacle – No Pun Intended
September 24, 2016, 9:02 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki