Monday, October 15, 2007

Cape Cod Times Reports BFRs in Harbor Seals

I remember buying one particular pair of pajamas for my four-year-old son in the USA and taking them home to France. I was not too pleased that the material had been treated with flame retardant (BFRs), but, at the time, there was no other choice. Back then, people took for granted that the government knew what it was doing and had thoroughly tested flame retardant prior to soaking children’s garments in it. We-e-l-l-l, now we know better. There was an important article today in the Cape Cod Times, written by Doug Fraser. I will paraphrase and suggest readers go to CCT online for the full version. Harbor seals (cousins of the cuties above) are dying. Analysis of tissue samples have shown the seals are loaded with chemicals, in particular BFRs. BFRs were detected in human breast milk in the 1970s in Sweden where levels have tripled over the past 20 years. However, breast milk from women, born in America, show levels 100 times greater than in Sweden. High levels of chemicals in the body may lower the immune system of seals, and of humans, making us both more susceptible to disease. What can one do about this situation? Avoid BFRs. Inform friends. Write your elected officials. Demand change and fast! (Maine is banning BFRs as of 2010. That’s great, but it would be even better if the ban went into effect sooner. Washington and 9 other states, including Massachusetts, have legislation pending for similar bans.)