Tag Archives: PBDEs

Common Flame Retardant Linked to Infertility

If you are like me, you know so… many women who are struggling with infertility. It is definitely a problem that is on the rise. A new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives raises the possibility that a lot of women who can’t have babies could have flame retardant chemicals to blame — specifically, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are commonly found in an alarming number of household consumer products.

PBDEs are a class of organobromine compounds found in foam furniture, electronics, fabrics, carpets, plastics and other common household items. They were commonly added to these and other products as flame retardants after the 1970s when new fire safety standards were implemented in the US.

In a study involving over 200 women, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) found that women with higher levels of PBDEs in their blood took far longer to become pregnant than those with low amounts of the chemicals in their blood. In fact, for every ten-fold increase in blood levels of four PBDE chemicals tested, there was a 30 percent decrease in the odds a woman would conceive a child during a month.

 PBDEs are unfortunately an enormous problem. They are everywhere in the home. The chemicals are known to leach out into the environment and accumulate in human fat cells. Previous studies have suggested that 97 percent of U.S. residents have detectable levels of PBDEs in their blood and that the levels in Americans are 20 times higher than in their counterparts in Europe.

“Although several types of PBDEs are being phased out in the United States, our exposure to the flame retardants is likely to continue for many years,” said the study’s principal investigator, Brenda Eskenazi, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health at the School of Public Health. “PBDEs are present in many consumer products, and we know they leach out into our homes. In our research, we have found that low-income children in California are exposed to very high levels of PBDEs, and this has us concerned about the next generation of Californians.”

More studies are on the way. I’ll keep you posted