New Study Finds Flame Retardant in Common Foods

Susanne Posel, Contributor
Activist Post

A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds that a common flame retardant can be detected in many popular foods, including fish and deli meats.

Arnold Schecter, professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas, says that 15 of the 36 food samples tested had detectable levels of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD).

HBCD is commonly used in thermal insulation foam and implemented in electrical equipment and consumer products. It is considered a “persistent organic pollutant” because it accumulates, travels long distances, and stays in the environment for a long time.

In common Dallas grocer markets, the researchers purchased various foods to be studied in 2009 – 2010. They collected 36 samples.

Forty-two percent of the samples had detectable levels of HBCDs.

Here is a small summation of their findings.

The foods with detectable levels include:

  • Sardines in water (one sample)
  • Smoked turkey sausages (three samples)
  • Fresh salmon (two different samples)
  • Sardines in olive oil (two samples)
  • Fresh catfish (three samples)
  • Fresh deli-sliced turkey (one of three)
  • Fresh deli-sliced ham (one of two)
  • Fresh tilapia (one of three)
  • Chili with beans (one of three)

Twenty-one other samples tested that did not have detectable HBCD levels included:

  • Creamy peanut butter (three samples)
  • Chili with beans (two of three samples)
  • Bacon (three samples)
  • Fresh deli-sliced beef (three samples)
  • Fresh deli-sliced turkey (two of three samples)
  • Fresh deli-sliced chicken (two samples)
  • Fresh tilapia (two of three samples)
  • Fish sticks (three samples)
  • Fresh deli-sliced ham (one of two)

Scientists are concerned that exposure to HBCD could be a direct causation of developmental effects, hormonal interference and alterations in both the immune and reproductive systems in humans.

HBCD is on the European Chemicals Agency’s candidate list of substances of “very high concern.”

Schecter explains: 

The levels we found are lower than what the governments agencies currently think are dangerous. But those levels were determined one chemical at a time.

Now the Environmental Protection Agency is developing an action plan to deal with HBCD; considering adding it to their list of “chemicals of concern”.

Linda S. Birnbaum, a study co-researcher and director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program, explains that because the government’s acceptable levels of HBCD presence in food are too “broadly representative this might be of American foods in general. They are persistent chemicals. They are going to last in our bodies a long time.”

Researchers admit that most Americans are exposed to multiple dangerous chemicals simultaneously, causing devastating effects on our general health.

Bryan Goodman, a spokesperson for the North American Flame Retardant Alliance of the American Chemistry Council, objected to the findings in the study.

Goodman said: 

Based on these findings, the real story is that HBCD was not detected in the majority of the samples, and in those where it was, it was well below levels where one might see adverse health effects.

Goodman believes that the study results “should not pose a concern for human health.”

Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group believes “this [study] is important.” Lunder says the EPA’s action plan is lacking.

This particular study focuses exclusively on HBCDs, it’s the mixture of complex chemicals people are exposed to that is of even greater concern, Lunder asserts. 

Whether this chemical alone or in combination with others is enough to make us sick is a complicated question. Overall, reducing our production and use of persistent and toxic chemicals has got to be the goal.

Schecter reasserts that “what we’ve been saying in public health for a long time . . . more fruits and vegetables are going to be good for most of us. Animal fats should be eaten less than the average American eats them.”

Susanne Posel is the Chief Editor of Occupy Corporatism. Our alternative news site is dedicated to reporting the news as it actually happens; not as it is spun by the corporately funded mainstream media. You can find us on our Facebook page.

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