Flame retardants commonly sprayed in fabric and fillings in furniture were associated with a 74 percent increase in thyroid cancer rates in the U.K. during the last 10 years, a study revealed. Health experts said exposure to this flame retardants through dust might have contributed to the surge in thyroid cancer rates. To assess this, researchers at the Duke University analyzed household dust and blood samples from cancer patients.
Researchers found that patients with thyroid cancer had significantly higher exposure to flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers compared with healthy controls. Data also showed that cancer patients exhibited higher levels of TCEP, also known as Chlorinated Tris. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers were banned in 2004, while TCEP was banned 16 years ago. (Related: Explore more news about toxic chemicals at Toxins.news.)
“The chemicals are released as household dust and enter our bodies on our food and hands, with the highest levels in children,” said lead researcher Dr Heather Stapleton in an article published in DailyMail.co.uk. The research team also noted cognitive defects among children exposed to the flame retardants during pregnancy or before the age of four.
The findings were slated for presentation at the International Symposium on Fire Retardants.
More studies link flame retardants to thyroid conditions
The recent research was only one of the many studies that established a link between common flame retardants and thyroid cancer risk.
An analysis of dust samples from the homes of 140 participants showed that people who had high exposure to the flame retardant BDE-209 were twice more likely to develop thyroid cancer compared with those who had lower exposure. Data also showed that participants exposed to high levels of TCEP had a fourfold increased odds of developing larger, more aggressive tumors.
“Thyroid cancer is the fastest increasing cancer in the U.S., with most of the increase in new cases being papillary thyroid cancer. Recent studies suggest that environmental factors may, in part, be responsible for this increase…our study results suggest that higher exposure to several flame retardants in the home environment may be associated with the diagnosis and severity of papillary thyroid cancer, potentially explaining some of the observed increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer,” said lead researcher Dr. Julie Ann Sosa in an article in UPI.com.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Orlando, Florida.
Another study revealed that women exposed to flame retardants were at an increased risk of suffering thyroid conditions. Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health pooled data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that women exposed to toxic flame retardants were more likely to develop adverse thyroid conditions compared with men. The study also showed that women with the highest blood concentrations of flame retardants were at an increased risk of thyroid problems. Older women had a twofold increased risk of thyroid problems, the researchers added. The findings were published in the journal Environmental Health.
Toxic flame retardants prevalent in U.S. households
American households were found to be filled with toxic flame retardants, research showed. A team of researchers at the Silent Spring Institute and the University of Antwerp in Belgium examined dust samples from 16 California homes in 2006 and 2011, and detected 44 of 49 separate flame retardant chemicals in at least one. The research team also found that at least 50 percent of homes examined contained at least one of 36 specific flame retardant chemicals. A majority of households also contained at least one chemical with levels that surpassed the federal safety standards.
An analysis of polyurethane foam samples also revealed that more than 50 percent of couches in American households contained flame retardants that were either deemed toxic or have never undergone safety testing. Researchers also found that 41 percent contained Tris, while 17 percent contained polybrominated diphenyl ethers.
Both studies were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.