One of the great blessings of my adult life was a summer vacation spent with my husband and children at Catalina Island Camps. We spent the better part of the week learning about the ocean, our food supply and our ability to affect change.
Jean Michele Cousteau (son of Jacques Cousteau) would call himself an ambassador of the environment. I would call him a hero to us all.
Most recently Cousteau has discovered many populations of killer whales are contaminated with toxic, synthetic chemicals known as PBDEs, or flame retardants. I understand the wisdom of not wanting your children’s pajamas to catch fire, but how many of us are living in gaslight districts? At what point do we ask for change, and at what point do we demand it?
Please take a look at a wonderful new site, Toxic Flame Retardants. Without our oceans, we are nothing.
Jean Michele has a wonderful show on PBS that I would encourage you to watch with your children. It’s not enough to be a green parent, we should also be blue.
From the site:
Five Known Facts About Toxic Flame Retardants
1. California Laws Are Creating A Toxic Environment For The World
Since the 1980’s, a California law has required manufacturers to saturate baby products, home electronics, furniture foams and fabrics with toxic flame retardant chemicals, such as PBDEs. (Technical Bulletin 117) 1.
2. We Are Breathing In Toxic Dust Sitting On Our Couches
Toxic PBDEs leak out of household items into dust in our homes and into the air we breathe. These toxins are now in every corner of our earth and in every body of water 2, 3.
3. By Flame Proofing Our Children We Are Exposing Them To Toxic Chemicals
Children in California households breathe dust that contains 10 times the amount of toxic flame retardants than in any other state and 200 times the amount found in European households 4.
4. We Are Passing On Our Toxic Burdens Onto Our Children And Their Children
Babies are now born with alarmingly high rates of PBDE chemicals in their bodies and receive additional doses from their mother’s milk at each feeding. By the time they are toddlers, they have three times the levels of PBDEs in their bodies as their mothers 5
5. We are Creating Hazardous Environments For Our Civil-Servant Heroes
At best, flame retardants only slow but do not stop fires. Upon ignition, PBDEs turn into known carcinogens, dioxins, and furans, that are released into the air, exposing firefighters to increased health risks. Firefighters have been found to have elevated rates of these four types of cancer: multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate, and testicular 6.
California, Technical Bulletin 117, TB 117, State of California department of consumer affairs bureau of home furnishings and thermal insulation, http://www.bhfti.ca.gov/industry/117.pdf, March 2000.
Lorber, M., Exposure of Americans to polybrominated diphenyl ethers. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 2008, 18, (1), 2-19.
Hale, R. C.; La Guardia, M. J.; Harvey, E.; Mainor, T. M., Potential role of fire retardant-treated polyurethane foam as a source of brominated diphenyl ethers to the US environment. Chemosphere 2002, 46, (5), 729-35.
Zota, A. R.; Rudel, R. A.; Morello-Frosch, R. A.; Brody, J. G., Elevated house dust and serum concentrations of PBDEs in California: unintended consequences of furniture flammability standards? Environ Sci Technol 2008, 42, (21), 8158-64.
Lunder, S., Jacob, A., Fire retardants in toddlers and their mothers. Environmental Working Groups 2008.
LeMasters, G. K.; Genaidy, A. M.; Succop, P.; Deddens, J.; Sobeih, T.; Barriera-Viruet, H.; Dunning, K.; Lockey, J., Cancer risk among firefighters: a review and meta-analysis of 32 studies. J Occup Environ Med 2006, 48, (11), 1189-202.
If you can swing it, hang out with Jean Michel this summer at the best camp I’ve ever laid eyes on.
[This post was written by Jessica Gottlieb.]