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CAT | Toxins and Health

sleeping-babyYou may not be thinking about toxins the next time you change a diaper or put your child down for a nap, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Recent studies show that flame retardant chemicals found commonly in changing table pads, crib mattresses, nursing pillows and even pajamas are highly toxic—especially to developing children—but a new bill could take a giant step toward reducing exposure to these dangerous substances.

United States Senator Charles Schumer recently introduced the Children and Firefighters Protection Act, which would ban the production and sale of children’s products and upholstered furniture made with the top ten most toxic flame retardants: TDCPP, TCEP, TBBPA, decabromodiphenyl ether, antimony trioxide, HBCD, TBPH, TBB, chlorinated paraffins and TCPP. The bill would also require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review the safety of all other chemical flame retardants and ban them if necessary.

Speaking in New York last month, Schumer cited new evidence that exposure to the carcinogenic chemicals in flame retardants has been linked to developmental delays in children as well as a higher risk of hormone disruption and cancer. One study revealed they raised toxin levels in children by up to 23% compared to that of their mothers. And, when those toxins ignite and become airborne, they pose a significant risk to the firefighters who breathe them in.

On top of that, Schumer pointed out that the flame retardants used so often today are not even effective when it comes to preventing fires or slowing down the burn rate once a fire has been ignited.

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child-with-inhalerSmokers are not the only ones affected by the health risks of cigarette smoking. According the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke is classified as a “known human carcinogen” and is responsible for more than 42,000 deaths every year. Now, results of a new study show that infants and children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of developing allergic disease in adolescence and well into their teen years.

The 16-year study was conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and involved nearly 4,000 children. Parents were asked about their smoking and lifestyle habits during and after pregnancy, and the children were monitored for symptoms of asthma, allergies and other conditions.

Children exposed to secondhand smoke in the womb had a 45% higher risk of developing asthma by the time they were 16 years old. Those exposed as infants or in adolescence had a 23% higher risk of developing asthma and were 18% more likely to develop allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal passages due to allergens). In addition, they had a 26% higher risk of developing eczema (red, itchy skin).

While the link between secondhand smoke exposure and allergic diseases in children is not a new one, this was among the first studies to show that the risk continues through adolescence and into the teenage years. Fetal exposure to secondhand smoke has also been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage, birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

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