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Feature

Burned by Flame Retardants?

Our bodies are accumulating chemicals from sofas, computers, and television sets

By
10:28am, October 10, 2001

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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