A new study has found flame retardant chemicals, called PBDEs, in foods taken straight from supermarket shelves in Dallas, Texas, suggesting that food may be a key source of the contamination measured in people around the world. The report, which recently was published by Environmental Science & Technology, revealed higher levels of flame retardants in the foods here than similar market studies from other countries. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) — used widely as flame-retardant additives in electronics and in polyurethane foam used for carpet padding, mattresses, chairs, sofas and other furniture — have been detected in humans across the globe, but scientists are not certain how they are getting there. Arnold Schecter, M.D., M.P.H. and his coworkers tested 32 food samples from three major supermarket chains in Dallas. “We found PBDE contamination in all food containing animal fats,” Schecter says, with the highest levels in fish, followed by meat and then dairy products. PBDEs are most soluble in fats, so they tend to accumulate in animal and human tissues.
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