I'm heading back to the states on Monday and just when the sun has come out! I won't be gone long though, just three itty bitty tiny weeks. All of which reminds me of polybrominated diphenylethers. Not really. . . but there have been some interesting developments on these chemicals over the last couple weeks and how this impacts the future of our health and communities.
I first mentioned PBDE's to you in March of 2008 when Dr. Rice, an EPA scientist, was fired for her studies on brominated flame retardants. And then again with Representative Dingell opened a congressional investigation on the incident. Dr. Rice might have been fired for her outspoken (-ness?), but the negative impact on communities by brominated flame retardants hasn't gone away that easily . . . thanks to a bunch of really skilled and pissed off people who are bent on eliminating toxic chemicals from our bodies and environment, including Environmental Health Fund, International Association of Fire Fighters, and moms and dads who have asked companies from whom they purchase products to eliminate toxic chemicals.
Rice was fired in 2008 and yesterday, EPA announced along with Albemarle Corporation and Chemtura Corporation, and the largest U.S. importer, ICL Industrial Products, Inc, announced the phase out of decabrominated diphenylethers in the United States.
Ready for a quick science and vocabulary lesson before moving on? Alright, here we go . . .
polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDE) - members of a class of brominated chemicals used as flame retardants
brominated flame retardants (BFR) - chemicals used in products like cigarettes, mattresses, and curtains to prevent fire
decabrominated diphenylethers (decaBDE)- a type of polybrominated dipheylethers that are widely used in curtains and cushions
octabrominated diphenylethers (octaBDE)- a type of polybrominated dipheylethers that are widely used in computers and appliances
why am I wasting your blog reading time with this crap: These chemicals are poisonous to humans, animals, and the environment throughout its production, use and disposal. When thinking about why these chemicals should be phased out of products we should think about the true impact of them throughout their entire lifecycle. Since they are additives to products, they breakdown over time and throughout the use of a product. So as I type on my cute little MacBook my hands are touching plastic that is slowly breaking down the longer I use it and that's when additivies like octaBDE gets into my body. (However, all new Apple products are all BFR free!) I don't want octaBDE in my body because it has been known to cause thyroid toxicity, liver toxicity, and neurodevelopmental toxicity.
Got it? Good . . . let's keep moving.
Industry was scared enough about the loss of their power to continue poisoning communities that Dr. Rice was fired, people like Arlene Blum (best science teacher ever!) have been campaigning around the world, and companies have been announcing the phase out of brominated flame retardants in the products we use everyday like cell phones and laptops means that we are getting closer to overhauling our country's antiquated chemical policies.
Oh yeah, the United States has a really shitty chemical policy meaning that we currently have 80,000 chemicals most of which we know NOTHING about. Yep, companies can put chemicals in baby toys of which nobody understands their short or long term environmental health consequences. Kind of like how we medicate hyperactive children instead of buying them a pair of cleets and signing them up for a soccer team. This is what disgusts me the most about people like Cal Dooley. His job is to defend these dirty practices.
EPA's announcement is a great step. It's one more way to see that people all over the country are standing up and taking action against marginalizing and institutional poisoning by profit driven corporations. Profit over people is not an economic scheme that works.
To learn a little more about flame retardants check out Health Care Without Harm.
It's sooooo sunny outside! Yea Amsterdam!
P.S. T.I. may be getting out jail early.