Flame retardants take a vacation | Science News

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Flame retardants take a vacation

12:07pm, October 21, 2003

Getting blood drawn may not be everyone's idea of a vacation. Yet that's just what some Swedish workers volunteered for. Researchers wanted to measure how bloodborne concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)–ubiquitous and potentially toxic flame retardants–changed during month-long respites from work. Other workers were tested in the workplace.

PBDEs escape from plastics, fabrics, and other materials (SN: 10/13/01, p. 238: Burned by Flame Retardants?). Potential health consequences are now being investigated (see "New PCBs?" in this week's issue: New PCBs?). Kristina Jakobsson of Lund (Sweden) University Hospital and her coworkers focused on 11 PBDEs that show up frequently in human blood. The researchers reasoned that any drop in concentration during vacation was likely to have resulted from the absence of workplace exposures. Unchanged concentrations might reflect food and other nonoccupational

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