From: Treehugger
Published December 12, 2016 12:18 PM

Flame Retardant Pollution in Great Lakes Is a Serious Matter, Commission Says

The International Joint Commission has developed a strategy for how U.S. and Canadian governments can address this toxic problem.

The International Joint Commission (IJC) has urged the Canadian and American governments to take action on toxic flame retardants accumulating in the Great Lakes basin. In a report published in November, the IJC stated that levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have reached a point that could be harmful to human health. Levels are highest in Lakes Erie and Huron, but are found everywhere.

PBDEs have been used as flame retardants since the 1970s. They are deliberately added to a wide range of commercial and consumer products, such as appliances, furniture, electronic devices, plastics, mattresses and carpets. While there has been some government action taken to limit the use of PBDEs in the manufacture of new items, the chemicals leak into the environment when old products are disposed of, whether sent to landfill or recycled. The Lake County News Chronicle describes it as “a legacy problem that will linger far beyond the life of products.”

Flame retardants are present in the water, air, sediment, wildlife, and humans who live near the Great Lakes. This is deeply concerning because these chemicals are persistent (never break down), toxic, and bioaccumulative (meaning the chemicals are absorbed by the body faster than it can excrete them). Exposure to PBDEs has been linked to thyroid disorders, birth defects, infertility, cancer, and neurobehavioral disorders. For wildlife, it means “increased mortality rates, malformations, and thyroid system and metabolic impairment.”

Read more at TreeHugger

Photo credit: Tibor Kovacs via Wikimedia Commons

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