SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Chemicals commonly found in furniture, clothing, carpets and other household items in California could be a health risk for pregnant women.

The findings are from a recently released University of California San Francisco study on polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDE’s.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor:

Fire resistant PBDE’s were regularly used in products sold in California because state law requires fire retardants on furniture.

The chemicals were banned in 2004 when data suggested they can cause health problems.

Now a new UCSF study of twenty-five pregnant women shows all had PBDE exposure.

Lead researcher Dr. Ami Zota said the exposure most likely was from the chemicals’ breakdown in old household furniture.

“They’re just added as a layer and they’re not chemically bound to the foam or inside the product,” she said.

“So they can be released into the indoor air and dust where we end up either eating the dust particles or breathing them into our bodies.”

While more research needs to be done, Dr. Zota said PBDE’s can cause thyroid and hormone problems and slow brain development.

California’s use of chemicals for fire prevention has resulted in the state having one of the highest levels of PBDE exposure in the world

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