Yesterday, a number of papers reported on a nationwide study of toxics in house dust that tested 70 homes in seven states—including Washington and Oregon—for six classes of chemicals, including PBDEs. (PBDEs are toxic flame retardants that have also been found at high levels in the bodies of northwesterners.)
Thirty-five of 44 chemicals measured were found in one or more of the seven states’ samples, providing another clue to the puzzle of how toxics end up in people. Dust samples from Oregon had the highest levels of PBDEs, pesticides and perfluorinated chemicals. (Oregonians also had the highest median levels of PBDEs in our study, as you’ll see in this animation.)
The good news is that action is being taken. As the Oregonian noted yesterday in a supportive editorial, the Oregon legislature is considering a bill to phase out several types of PBDES. The editorial points out—accurately—that countries that have banned the chemicals have seen declines in body burdens; that there are safe alternatives to PBDEs; and that manufacturers such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Epson are already using them. (Washington is considering a similar bill.)
For info on what different areas of Cascadia are doing about PBDEs, go here.