Exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) can cause serious health problems. PBDEs are most associated with flame retardant chemicals and can be found in many daily household items, including carpets and mattresses. It is not difficult to transition to a PBDE-free life.

The Environment Working Group (EWG), non-profit organization empowering the public with health information, explains PBDEs can also cause "thyroid hormone imbalance, fatigue, depression, anxiety, unexplained weight gain, hair loss and low libido."

The key is to avoid bringing home products that have "brominated fire retardants" or "deca." Deca was often used in making television screens but most brands have discontinued using deca in their new products. Ikea, along with many other companies, is actively promoting PBDE-free furniture. It’s important to be informed about PBDE-free options when shopping, as there are naturally flame retardant fibers that are now readily accessible.

Unfortunately, PBDEs can be airborne - a vacuum with a hepa filter is ideal for removing PBDE dust.

According to Health Canada, PBDEs are also found in some fatty meats, fish and dairy products. PollutioninPeople.org, a project of the Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition, says avoid farmed fish, especially farmed salmon from the UK or US and reduce animal fats from your diet.

Here are more tips, provided by Environmental Working Group, on how to live PBDE-less or free. www.ewg.org/pbdefree


Abstract for current UC Berkeley Study

Health Canada on PBDEs