Chemicals in TV, computers, toasters and sofas could be health hazards

December 11th, 2007 - 1:52 pm ICT by admin  

Washington , Dec 11 (ANI): A recent research has revealed that chemicals used as fire-retardants in several home appliances like televisions, computers, toasters and sofas may be hazardous to human health.

It was found that chemicals used as fire retardants, mainly Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), could be harmful for human health as they have been detected in alarming amounts in human blood and breast milk, which could be a major health concern for humans.

Also, these industrial chemicals have been associated with cases of feline hyperthyroidism, a potentially fatal condition in cats.

The study was carried out by the University Of California Riverside scientists.

The researchers used rat tissues that showed that PBDEs disrupt mechanisms that are responsible for releasing hormones in the body.

It was also revealed that just like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), whose manufacture in the U.S. was terminated in 1977, PBDEs alter calcium signaling in the brain a critical mechanism for transmitting information between and within brain cells, for learning and memory, and for regulating the release of hormones in the body.

Long-term exposures to PBDEs may pose a human health risk, especially to infants and toddlers who are more likely to ingest household dust or acquire these chemicals through mothers milk, said Margarita Curras-Collazo, an associate professor of cell biology and neuroscience.

She added: How much PBDE in the body is considered safe is yet to be determined and will require further federal and state research funding.

PBDEs, which have different forms based on the number and location of bromine atoms they contain, closely resemble the molecular structure of PCBs. Because they can slow the spread of a fire, PBDEs currently are being produced for use as flame-retarding compounds in a variety of consumer goods, including electrical appliances, building materials, some foams and upholstery furnishings.

As these chemicals are used as flame-retardants, in states, such as California that have enacted stringent flammability regulations for these products, the volume of PBDEs in household goods is higher.

Humans and pets are continuously getting exposed to toxicants as PBDEs travel into the indoor air and household dust from household goods.

With time, PBDEs, PCBs and similar organic toxicants filter into the environment when household wastes decompose in landfills or are incompletely burnt.

Now, they are found in air, water and soil as well as in wildlife and supermarket foods. When people ingest food contaminated with PBDEs, it adds to their body burden over their lifetime.

The researchers showed that the regulation of calcium in neurons can be compromised by PBDEs and PCBs.

It was also reported that that PBDEs, like PCBs, could disrupt the neuroendocrine system, which regulates the secretion of hormones such as those responsible for body water regulation and cardiovascular function.

At present, one more mass-produced chemical is finding its way into our bodies one with features similar to a banned substance. This in itself should be cause for concern, given that low level concentrations of hundreds of man-made compounds have been found in the human body and may act cooperatively to produce harmful health effects, Coburn said.

Curras-Collazo is urging more research funding into the short- and long-term toxicity of PBDEs.

Due in part to our lifestyles electronic equipment, car and airplane travel, computers PBDEs bioaccumulate, increasing their concentration in human and animal tissues over time. They are difficult to get rid of, persisting in the environment and in our bodies, she said.

The researchers are now studying the effect of PBDEs on neurodevelopmenta, blood pressure regulation especially as a consequence of perinatal exposure such as that experienced by infants and children.

While we plan to increase and continue our focus on the mechanisms of PBDE toxicity, our long-term goal is to investigate the neurodevelopmental effects of PBDEs, Curras-Collazo said.

The study will be published in a forthcoming issue of Neurochemical Research. (ANI)

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