Kids and flame retardants still an ongoing issue

by Dr. Alan Kadish NMD

When 72 preschool kids used a silicon wristband to check for fire retardant exposures the results tell the story. 60% of them  had measured in their environment

Using silicone wristbands to evaluate preschool children’s exposure to flame retardants

Molly L. Kilea, Richard P. Scottc, Steven G. O’Connellc, Shannon Lipscomba, b, Megan MacDonalda, Megan McClellanda, Kim A. Andersonc, ,
a College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, United States
b Oregon State University Cascades Campus, Bend, OR 97701, United States
c Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, Corvallis, OR 97331, United States
Received 10 December 2015, Revised 24 February 2016, Accepted 25 February 2016, Available online 3 March 2016



Silicone wristbands are a non-invasive approach for personal sampling of chemical mixtures.

Flame retardants were stable in a simulation of transport and storage stability in wristband samplers.

A total of 20 flame retardants were detected in silicone wristbands worn by children.

Some flame retardants measured in wristbands were associated with house age, vacuum frequency, and family context.
Silicone wristbands can be used as passive sampling tools for measuring personal environmental exposure to organic compounds. Due to the lightweight and simple design, the wristband may be a useful technique for measuring children’s exposure. In this study, we tested the stability of flame retardant compounds in silicone wristbands and developed an analytical approach for measuring 41 flame retardants in the silicone wristband in order to evaluate exposure to these compounds in preschool-aged children. To evaluate the robustness of using wristbands to measure flame retardants, we evaluated the stability of 3 polybrominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs), and 2 organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs) in wristbands over 84 days and did not find any evidence of significant loss over time at either 4 or −20 °C (p>0.16). We recruited a cohort of 92 preschool aged children in Oregon to wear the wristband for 7 days in order to characterize children’s acceptance of the technology, and to characterize their exposure to flame retardants. Seventy-seven parents returned the wristbands for analysis of 35 BDEs, 4 OPFRs, and 2 other brominated flame retardants although 5 were excluded from the exposure assessment due to protocol deviations (n=72). A total of 20 compounds were detected above the limit of quantitation, and 11 compounds including 4 OPFRs and 7 BDEs were detected in over 60% of the samples. Children’s gender, age, race, recruitment site, and family context were not significantly associated with returning wristbands or compliance with protocols. Comparisons between flame retardant data and socio-demographic information revealed significant differences in total exposures to both ΣBDEs and ΣOPFRs based on age of house, vacuuming frequency, and family context. These results demonstrate that preschool children in Oregon are exposed to BDEs that are no longer being produced in the United States and to OPFRs that have been used as an alternative to polybrominated compounds. Silicone wristbands were well tolerated by young children and were useful for characterizing personal exposure to flame retardants that were not bound to particulate matter.





Those Livestrong bracelets might have gone out of fashion after Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal, but scientists have come up with a new reason to bring them back. The bracelets are made of silicone, which can trap toxic pollutants that the wearer encounters. Researchers from Oregon State University recently tested the bracelets on 92 preschool children and were surprised by the number of harmful toxins the kids encountered in a week. The researchers published a study in the May issue of the journal Environmental Research, as Chemical and Engineering News reports this week.

The silicone wristbands are ideal sampling tools because they are comfortable and easy to wear for extended periods of time without harming the person, the researchers write (they had tested necklaces in previous studies but those weren’t as appealing). In the study, the researchers were looking for 41 types of flame retardants, as childhood exposure to these chemicals has been linked to health problems including decreased cognitive ability, hyperactivity, and obesity. After the children wore the wristbands for a week, the researchers performed a analysis of the chemicals absorbed by the silicone. They found that 60 percent of the samples contained 11 of those compounds. They detected half the chemicals they were looking for, including several that are no longer produced in the United States. Just which flame retardants the kids were exposed to depended on the age of their house and how often their parents vacuumed.

With any luck, those findings can help parents and regulators make substantive changes to reduce kids’ exposure to harmful flame retardants. It’s happened before—when scientists figured out that roofers were exposed to more dangerous chemicals at a training site than during their regular jobs, the union of workers insisted on better ventilation in the training facility, according to Vocativ.

The researchers are using the same silicone bracelets to pursue a number of different questions about the interaction between environmental chemicals and health, according to C&EN. They are currently working on a study evaluating prenatal exposure to some chemicals (putting the wristbands on mothers in their last trimester) and the incidence of childhood asthma. Other projects are looking at farmers’ exposure to pesticide chemicals on four continents.

The following two tabs change content below.
Dr. Kadish is an unusual physician often referred to as a "doctor detective". His expertise is the evaluation and treatment of complex disorders, typically after other physicians have been stumped, is renowned. He provides care for all family members and has additional training in autistic spectrum disorders and chronic complex diseases.