While flame retardants “work silently to safeguard the public and fire fighters and reduce injuries and property damage from fires,” the junk science mob is noisily working to have them banned for no good reason.
A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives reports that first generation Mexican children in California had higher serum levels of polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are used as flame retardants, than their counterparts in Mexico.
The “researchers” concluded:
Latino children living in California have much higher PBDE serum levels than their Mexican counterparts. Given the growing evidence documenting potential health effects of PBDE exposure, the levels in young children noted in this study potentially present a major public health challenge, especially in California. In addition, as PBDEs are being phased out and replaced by other flame retardants, the health consequences of these chemical replacements should be investigated and weighed against their purported fire safety benefits.
Of course, mere exposure doesn’t equate to toxicity and the explanation for the difference in serum levels is likely that California has more stringent flammability standards than Mexico.
Moving on to the self-debunking assertion that there is “growing evidence documenting potential health effects of PBDE exposure,” just how does one document a potential health effect? Considering the paper’s four cited studies, not very well.
- In the December 2009 EHP study “Prenatal exposure to organohalogens, including brominated flame retardants, influences motor, cognitive, and behavioral performance at school age,” the “researchers” reported that, “Brominated flame retardants correlated with worse fine manipulative abilities, worse attention, better coordination, better visual perception, and better behavior.” But aside from correlation not equating to causation and the “researchers” failure to consider the multifactorial nature of development, the reported results are obviously somewhat contradictory.
- In the May 2010 EHP study “PBDE concentrations in women’s serum and fecundability,” the “researchers” marginally correlated “longer time to pregnancy” with individual PBDE congeners, but there was no correlation when all congeners were combined — which is how more than 97 percent of the women were exposed. The multifactorial nature of “time to pregnancy” was not explored and PBDE levels were not correlated with menstrual cycles.
- In the May 2010 EHP study “Prenatal exposure to PBDEs and neurodevelopment,” the “researchers” studied children delivered in lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and absurdly tried to correlate PBDE exposure to multifactorial development issues.
- In the October 2010 EHP study “Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants and thyroid hormone during pregnancy,” the researchers tried to correlate serum PBDE levels with lower thyroid-stimulating hormone levels. Even making the huge assumption for the sake of argument that the serum PBDE levels did lower TDH levels, there’s no evidence that any fetal harm was caused.
It’s safe to say that these studies document nothing except that these “researchers” are anxious to smear PBDE-containing flame retardants with crappy correlations. The fact that they all appear in the junk science-oriented Environmental Health Perspectives, and that four of them involve long-time, anti-chemical jihadists Brenda Eskenazi and Frederica Perera is further indication of a smear-PBDE-machine at work.