Two years ago, unnerving news from researchers in Stockholm hit the European
press. An analysis of samples of women's breast milk since 1972 showed dramatic
increases in a class of relatively unknown chemicals that toxicologists liken to
the notorious pollutants polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
The lesser-known chemicals, polybromo diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), had been noted a
year earlier in the Swedish food supply. Soon, researchers in North America also
documented an accumulation of PBDEs in women's milk. They observed PBDEs in fat,
too, where the chemicals lodge. Furthermore, PBDEs have been reported in human
tissue in Japan, Israel, and Spain.
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