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Fire Retardant Found in Breast Milk

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HOUSTON, Sep 23, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A toxic chemical that retards fire in numerous products is appearing in higher amounts in women's breast milk in the United States.

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit environmental research organization, tested the milk of 20 women and found polybrominated diphenyl ethers levels of 9.5 to 1,078 parts per billion.

The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, by University of Texas at Houston found levels of PBDE in breast milk from 5 to 418 parts per billion in 47 American women.

The PBDE levels were the highest in the world: 10 to 20 times higher than those in Europe, where the chemicals are being phased out, USA Today reported.

It's not known what effects, if any, the chemical has on humans.

In mice and rats, studies show PBDEs may cause cognitive and behavior changes during development and lead to higher cancer rates, but Peter O'Toole of the Bromine Science and Environmental Forum told USA Today, human effects can't be extrapolated from rodents.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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