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New PCBs?

Throughout life, our bodies accumulate flame retardants, and scientists are starting to worry

10:52am, October 21, 2003

Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) is hardly a household phrase. Yet it probably should be. Household products ranging from kids' pajamas to computers release these brominated flame retardants. The chemicals have been turning up in house and yard dust, as well as in specimens collected from sewage sludge, streams, and even people's bodies. For 3 decades, manufacturers have been putting these chemicals into a wide variety of products to reduce the risk that these goods will catch fire.

And indeed, PBDEs have performed reliably, saving an estimated 300 or more lives each year in the United States alone. However, emerging data on the extent to which the chemicals pollute the environment have kindled concern that th

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