Halogenated flame retardants, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, are known to be a health risk to children. Previous research has shown that exposure to these chemicals can cause lower IQ and behavioral problems in children.

“It’s well-known that viruses are transferred between surfaces and hands,” said study co-author Miriam Diamond, a professor in the University of Toronto’s department of earth sciences.

“Our study shows that toxic chemicals like flame retardants do the same. That’s another reason we should all wash our hands often and well,” Diamond said in a university news release.

Study co-author Lisa Melymuk, an assistant professor of environmental chemistry at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, noted that “if a flame retardant is used in the TVs, we then find it throughout the house, including on the hands of the resident.”

And even though regular hand-washing can reduce your exposure to these chemicals, Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute in Berkeley, Calif., suggested that “to reduce health harm from flame retardants, the electronics industry should stop their unnecessary use.”

Blum said, “Fire safety can be achieved by innovative product design and materials instead of the use of toxic chemicals that can remain in our homes — and in us — for years to come.”


More information

The U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has more on flame retardants.

SOURCE: University of Toronto, news release, June 9, 2020

 

By Robert Preidt
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