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House dust seen as potential danger

Posted - Dec. 30, 2004 at 4:40 p.m.



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BETHESDA, Md., Dec 30, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Common house dust could be an important source of a potentially dangerous class of chemicals, researchers say.

These possibly dust-spawned chemicals are called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, according to an exploratory study by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Recent studies by others have found PBDEs have been accumulating in human blood, fat tissue and breast milk.

PBDEs have been widely used in consumer products for years because they are effective flame retardants, enhancing fire safety of products from carpeting and cushions to televisions, computers and coffee makers.

However, in recent years concerns have grown with evidence that PBDE concentrations are increasing rapidly both in the environment and in human tissues and body fluids.

Toxicological data on PBDEs is still limited, but the compounds have been implicated in developmental, reproductive, neurotoxicity and thyroid effects in rats, mice and fish, and may be carcinogenic.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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