Brominated fire retardants in food

The more scientists look for environmental contaminants in our food the more they find. The latest research to be published reports significant levels of the brominated fire retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) in fatty foods (peanut butter, poultry, fish and beef) purchased from supermarkets in Texas. HBCD is used in polystyrene foam in insulation and electrical equipment. Human effects of HBCD include alterations in immune and reproductive systems, neurotoxicity, and endocrine disruption, and the substance is among those that have been found in human tissue.

This paper adds to the evidence that the food supply is a significant source of HBCD in humans. The authors suggest that HBCD contamination of the US food supply is currently occurring and they recommend that larger and more representative sampling should be conducted. Future studies should quantify to what extent U.S. foods are contaminated, estimate the toxicity of each of the HBCD stereoisomers, and fully elucidate the mechanisms of the movement of HBCD in biota and the environment.

The paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, may be found in abstract at http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1204993#Ahead of Print (AOP) . The full article is available by clicking on one of the Download options.

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