04:55 AM

Effort afoot to ban flame retardants in furniture

Flame retardants show up in a range of products from children's clothes and toys to furniture and electronics, and over the years they've gotten credit for saving lives and property.

But fire-slowing chemicals are also linked to health problems - including cancer, birth defects and nervous system damage - and are banned in at least 13 states.

Jennifer Lowry, a Missouri physician and chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Environmental Health, noted mounting evidence that flame-retardant products cause fertility problems in adults, as well as long-term health effects for children, but their pervasiveness makes them difficult to avoid.

"We live in a sludge of chemicals that are linked to some serious health problems," Lowry said. "They get out into the dirt and dust in our homes, the air that we breathe, and ultimately into our bodies."

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