Decade old Californian ban on flame retardants delivering results

Since California banned flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in 2006, levels of these chemicals in the breast milk of San Francisco Bay area women has fallen by nearly 40%. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed PBDEs a concern for children’s health, linking them to behavioural problems following postnatal exposure.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) examined levels of PBDEs in the breast milk of 66 first time mothers in Santa Rosa between 2009 and 2012, and compared them with levels from another group of 82 first time mothers in nearby Californian communities that were tracked as part of a previous study conducted between 2003 and 2005. The findings back up earlier DTSC study results showing a similar decline in PBDEs in the blood of San Francisco women. However, despite this drop off in levels of these chemicals, the new DTSC analysis showed that all breastfed babies had some PBDE exposure, and almost one-third were subjected to very high levels.