What are the dangers of polybrominated diphenyl ether or PBDE exposure?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Research has linked exposure to Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers or PBDEs to an array of health problems including thyroid disruption, permanent learning and memory impairment, behavioral changes and liver damage.
In 2005 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disallowed the production of both the penta and octa forms of PBDEs in the United States after the Environmental Working Group and others reported widespread PBDE contamination in people, households, wildlife and common foods. While foam pillows and furniture purchased after 2005 are not likely to contain PBDEs, items purchased prior to 2005 probably do contain these toxins.
What do breast milk and polar bears have in common? In 1999, some Swedish scientists studying women’s breast milk discovered something totally unexpected: The milk contained an endocrine-disrupting chemical found in fire retardants, and the levels had been doubling every five years since 1972. These incredibly persistent chemicals, known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, have since been found to contaminate the bodies of people and wildlife around the globe -- even polar bears. These chemicals can imitate thyroid hormones in our bodies and disrupt their activity. That can lead to lower IQ, among other significant health effects. While several kinds of PBDEs have now been phased out, this doesn’t mean that toxic fire retardants have gone away. PBDEs are incredibly persistent, so they’re going to be contaminating people and wildlife for decades to come.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.