DALLAS, Sep 01, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Common food items found on supermarket shelves contain high levels of flame retardant chemicals, according to a U.S. study released Wednesday.
The findings could help explain previous studies that have detected these same flame retardant chemicals, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, in humans. The chemicals are used in electronics and foam found in furniture, but scientists were not certain how they were making their way into people.
The new study suggests food could be a potential source, wrote lead author Dr. Arnold Schecter and colleagues at the University of Texas.
The researchers reported in the online issue of Environmental Science and Technology they measured PBDE levels in 32 food items obtained at three different supermarkets in the Dallas area.
PBDEs were found in all food items containing animal fats, including fish, meat and dairy products. In addition, the PBDE levels in the Texas study were much higher than levels found in previous studies in Spain and Japan.
Some research has indicated PBDEs could cause cancer and other health problems in animals, but whether they pose a risk to humans remains uncertain.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.