Study Finds PBDE’s in Common Household Products Reduce Fertility in Women.

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A study by researchers at the University of California, Berkely has linked reduced fertility in women to exposure of a compound in flame-retardants used in common household items such as foam furniture, electronics, fabrics, carpets and plastics.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), in three formulations of pentaBDE, octaBDE and decaBDE, were developed for use as flame-retardants in the 1970’s when the United States developed new fire safety standards. However, several states, including California, have banned the pentaBDE and octaBDE due to adverse health effects.

The problem is that PBDEs do not stay inside or on the products. They are known to leach out into the environment, contaminating house dust and building up in people’s fat cells over time. Studies suggest 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 European people.

UC Berkely researchers found that women with those higher blood levels of PBDEs took longer to become pregnant compared with women who have lower levels of PBDEs, and linked each 10-fold increase in the blood concentration of PBDEs to a 30 percent decrease in the odds of becoming pregnant each month.

“There have been numerous animal studies that have found a range of health effects from exposure to PBDEs, but very little research has been done in humans. This latest paper is the first to address the impact on human fertility, and the results are surprisingly strong,” said the study’s lead author, Kim Harley, adjunct assistant professor of maternal and child health and associate director of the Center for Children’s Environmental Health Research at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in December 2009 an agreement with three major manufacturers of decaBDE to end production, importation and sales of decaBDE for most uses in the United States by December 31, 2012, and to end all uses by the end of 2013.

“Though DecaBDE has been used as a flame retardant for years, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has long been concerned about its impact on human health and the environment. Studies have shown that decaBDE persists in the environment, potentially causes cancer and may impact brain function. DecaBDE also can degrade to more toxic chemicals that are frequently found in the environment and are hazardous to wildlife,” said Steve Owens, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, in response to the announcement:

The study will be published in the January 26, 2010 issue of the journalEnvironmental Health Perspectives.

Other co-authors of the study are Amy Marks, Jonathan Chevrier and Asa Bradman from the Center for Children’s Environmental Health Research at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health; and Andreas Sjödin from the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The National Institute of Environmental Health Science, the U.S. EPA and the CDC helped support this research.

If you or a loved one has suffered health issues such as infertility resulting from exposure to PBDE’s, you may be entitled to compensation and may also be eligible for participation in future class action lawsuits. Call Napoli Bern Ripka LLP today at 888-529-4669 to discuss your case and determine if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.

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