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Flame Retardants: Is the Truth Too HOT to Handle?

From the Show: Naturally Savvy
Summary: Flame retardants sound good in theory. But what are you sacrificing in exchange for that feeling of safety?
Air Date: 8/27/14
Duration: 10
Host: Andrea Donsky, RHN and Lisa Davis, MPH
Guest Bio: Ron and Lisa Beres, Certified Green Building Professionals
Certified Green Building Professionals, Building Biologists and published authors of several books including, Just GREEN It! and the children's book, My Body My House. In addition to testing the health of homes, their consulting business includes celebrities and Fortune 500s. They are award-winning television media experts and have appeared on The Rachael Ray Show, The Suzanne Show, The Doctors, Fox & Friends, The Today Show with Matt Lauer, NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams, Discovery's Greenovate and Chelsea Lately on E!
  • Book Title: Just GREEN It! Simple Swaps to Save the Planet + Your Health
  • Guest Facebook Account: https://www.facebook.com/RonandLisaTheHealthyHomeDreamTeam
  • Guest Twitter Account: @RonandLisa
Flame Retardants: Is the Truth Too HOT to Handle?
Flame retardants sound good in theory; of course you want to protect your kids and other loved ones.

But, what are you sacrificing in exchange for that feeling of safety?

There is a class of chemicals called brominated flame retardants that have been added to products for years. These chemicals slow the rate of combustion and reduce the damage of household and workplace fires.

However, these chemicals have a host of negative health effects, including impacting the developing brain of children; which can cause learning problems and even behavioral problems.

In fact, recent research suggests that children have a higher level of these chemicals in their bodies than adults; up to 23 times higher than comparable adults.

What types of products are these flame retardants found in?

Exposure is everywhere, from furniture and mattresses to car seats and strollers. Even electronics, such as cell phones, computers and TV remotes can contain flame retardant chemicals.

Replacement chemicals are supposed to be healthier, but studies are finding that they are just as harmful..

How can you tell if a product contains flame retardants or not?

For years, mattresses have been required by law to meet an "open flame torch test," so you could be almost certain that your mattress contained these harmful chemicals. The only way to get around that was to get an organic mattress, such as one made with wool. This type of organic mattress still met the test requirements, because wool is naturally flame retardant.

Now, however, legislation has passed in certain states allowing furniture manufacturers to choose not to use certain flame retardants in their products. The unfortunate thing is they don't have to tell you if they do or don't.

What are some tips to avoid exposure?

Tip #1: Replace your mattress and pillows with organic materials.

Tip #2: Cover or replace the foam seats in your car; the break-up of that material is what leaks the chemical.

Tip #3: Minimize exposure to electronic cases (such as those found on cell phones or TV remotes); or at the very least, look for natural options.

Tip #4: Wash your hands (and your floors) as often as possible. These chemicals can get into the dust in your home, as well as the air.

Tip #5: Avoid high-fat foods, which actually trap in the chemicals and cause more concentrated levels in your body.

Want some more advice when it comes to flame retardants? Listen in as green living experts, Lisa and Ron Beres, join Andrea and Lisa to give you the lowdown on flame retardants, including ways you can steer clear of their harmful health effects.