About 80 percent of commonly used baby products recently surveyed by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, contain toxic or untested halogenated flame retardants, and 36 percent contain chlorinated Tris--a toxin that, along with the related brominated Tris, was banned for several years in the 1970s.
What's more, the flame retardants--there to meet California standard TB117 that consumer items withstand a small open flame--are easily rendered ineffective when put in, for instance, baby furniture with fabric covers that are not required to be resistant, says chemist and visiting scholar Arlene Blum, who helped organize the study just reported in in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
"The California furniture flammability standard called TB117 does not provide proven protection from fire," she says. "If we can change that requirement, we can have a positive effect worldwide, because these flame retardants are not just a California or U.S. problem--they've become global pollutants."
The semi-volatile chemicals get into the air and then into dust, where researchers say they can be ingested or form films on walls and windows. (An April 2011 UC Berkeley study found that Latino children in the U.S. have seven times the level of flame retardants in their blood than those living in Mexico.)… Read more