A study has found a link between behavioural problems and exposure to the substances added to goods to prevent fire
Flame retardants used in everyday products such as furniture and TVs could be turning children violent and hyperactive, researchers found.
The chemicals added to goods to prevent fire may be affecting the development of young kids.
A study has found a link between behavioural problems and exposure to the substances known as BDEs (brominated diphenyl ethers) and OPFRs (organophosphate-based flame retardants).
Professor Molly Kile, of Oregon State University , said: “When we analysed behaviour assessments and exposure levels, we observed the children who had more exposure to certain types of the flame retardant were more likely to exhibit externalising behaviours such as aggression, defiance, hyperactivity, inattention and bullying.
“This is an intriguing finding because no one had previously studied the behavioural effects of organophosphate classes of flame retardants, which have been added to consumer products more recently.”
Flame retardants are found in a host of products which also include mattresses, carpeting and cars. They are added and not bound in the material, which causes them to be released into indoor environments.
Ever since 1988, and the introduction of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations, all sofas sold in the UK must be treated with fire-retardant chemicals and display a label to prove it.
But there are growing concerns some may have unintended impacts on health and development in children.
OPFRs emerged as an alternative to BDEs in an effort to address some of the environmental health concerns posed by BDEs, which tend to remain in the environment for long periods.
Past research has shown that both BDEs and OPFRs are linked to poorer cognitive function in children.
But less is known about the relationship between the flame retardants and children’s social and emotional health, particularly during early childhood, a key developmental period for learning.
Prof Lipscomb said: “The social skills children learn during preschool set the foundation for their success in school, and also for their social and emotional health and well being later in life.”
Prof Kile added: “The results of this research to date have shown potential impacts for child health and warrant a more thorough investigation.
“If scientists find strong evidence exposure to flame retardants affects children’s behaviours, we can develop strategies that prevent these exposures and help improve children’s lives.
“This type of public health science is needed to figure out how to address the root causes of behavioural concerns that can affect children’s school readiness and overall well being.”
Written by –20:37, 10 MAR 2017