Study Finds Troubling Levels of Flame Retardants in Breast Milk

Fire-retardant chemicals used in household items from furniture to computers to coffee makers have been detected in American women’s breast milk at worrying levels, according to the first national study of the issue. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which have been linked to developmental difficulties and a number of other troubling health problems in test animals, are being phased out in Europe, but the U.S. EPA has made no moves to curb their use. A new study released today by the Environmental Working Group urges mothers to continue breast-feeding their babies but warns that production and use of PBDEs should be stopped. “It’s indicative of the broken system of chemical regulation in the country,” said EWG’s Bill Walker, editor of the report. “We release these chemicals into the environment and 20 or 30 years later we see the effects.”