WEDNESDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- Levels of
flame-retardant chemicals are seven times higher in
Mexican-American children living in California than in children in
Mexico, a new study reports.
The researchers also found that levels of flame retardants --
polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs -- in Mexican-American
children in California were higher than those found in almost all
other groups of children ever studied.
"Only Nicaraguan children who lived and worked on hazardous waste sites had higher reported levels of PBDEs in their bodies than the California children," study leader Brenda Eskenazi of the Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a news release.
The findings appear online April 15 ahead of print in the
Environmental Health Perspectives.
The researchers suggest that house dust was the major source of
the kids' exposure to PBDEs.
PBDEs are used in a wide range of products, including the foam
padding in upholstered furniture, carpet pads, child car seats and
"These products tend to have long lifespans, and the flame retardants are not chemically bound to the materials they're used with," said study co-author Asa Bradman, also of the Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health. "As polyurethane foam and other materials containing the flame retardants age and degrade, they can release PBDEs into people's homes in the form of dust. And scientists know that when you have persistent pollutants in dust, they get into children."
And California's high anti-flammability standards for products
may have inadvertently led to homes in the state having the highest
levels of PDBEs in the United States, according to the
Prior research suggests exposure to high levels of PBDE's may
impact fertility and thyroid hormone levels, according to the
For this study, researchers compared blood samples from 264
Mexican-American 7-year-olds in California and 283 children in
Mexico, aged 5. The samples were analyzed for PBDEs and the
Levels of DDT and its breakdown product DDE were lower in the
Mexican-American children in California than those in Mexico.
DDT has been banned in the United States since 1972.
The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has