PBDEs is an abbreviation for polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which are man-made chemicals that are widely used as flame retardants in a number of applications, including plastics, electronics, foams, and textiles. In recent years, studies have shown the negative effects and potential health risks associated with PBDE exposure and steps are being taken to ban the use of these chemicals.
How does exposure to PBDEs occur?
PBDEs were commonly used as flame retardants during the 1970s in electronics, mattresses, and foam used in furniture. The chemicals are mixed and added to products rather than bounded to them, so as the product degrades, the chemicals can eventually leave the products that contain them and enter into the environment. PBDEs enter air, water, and soil during manufacturing and use in consumer products. You may be exposed by eating foods or breathing air contaminated with PBDEs.
Why the concern?
Laboratory studies on mice have shown PBDEs to be neurotoxic chemicals, neurobehavioral and developmental toxicants, and carcinogens. They have noticeable effects on the thyroid and liver and they impair learning, memory, sexual development, and behavior.
What is being done to minimize exposure?
In 2003, California banned the use of two common types of PBDEs. Other states have also regulated the use of some PBDEs including Maine, Hawaii, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Maryland and New York. Washington state and Maine have the strictest laws, banning all types of PBDEs. The European Union bans all formulations of PBDEs.
How do I know if the products I purchase are safe?
Many manufacturers of electronics, furniture, and mattresses have discontinued using PBDEs while still maintaining the highest fire safety standards. Be sure to ask the manufacturer.
Does Garrett Leather use PBDEs?
No. Most of Garrett Leather’s products are flame treated in Italy during the tanning process, where all PBDEs are completely banned. In addition, leather that is treated in the United States at corporate headquarters does not contain any PBDEs, giving peace of mind to both employees and customers alike.