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Flame Retardant Exposure Among Pregnant Women Drops in California Following Ban

Update Date: Sep 27, 2013 02:54 PM EDT

Following the ban of flame retardants in products, California has seen a dramatic drop of flame retardants in the blood of pregnant women, according to a new study led by University of California San Francisco (UCSF) researchers.

 According to the statement, the ban on production of hazardous flame retardants has led to the shrinkage in the level of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). UCSF researchers compared 25 women who were tested in 2008 and 2009 and 36 women who were tested in 2011 and 2012. The first group had the highest reported blood levels of PBDEs of any group of pregnant women tested worldwide. But in the second group of women, levels had fallen by two-thirds.

These polybrominated diphenyl ethers were used earlier in the California to manufacture the electronic goods.  PBDEs have been known to retardants cause mental problems in children, leading to reduction in the IQ level in the children.

"We were pleasantly surprised by the extent of the decline," study lead author Ami Zota, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, said in a University of California, San Francisco news release.

"Regulations can have an impact on people's everyday lives," added Zota, who conducted the research while she was a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF's Program on Reproductive Health.

The study was published online Sept. 25 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The North American Flame Retardant Alliance, an industry group, noted that the study doesn't link PBDEs to harmful health effects, but said in a statement, "We are certainly pleased to see that the researchers have found substantial declines in the levels of PBDEs among the sample of women seen in their clinic."

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