Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Products: Health Effects of Flame Retardants (PBDEs) and State Policies to Prevent Exposures

March 21, 2012 @ 10:00am (AKDT)

This CHE-Alaska was a discussion with researcher Ami Zota, ScD and nationally-recognized environmental health leader Kathy Curtis on the adverse health effects of exposure to PBDEs and what we can do to prevent exposures. More than twelve states have already banned these toxic flame retardant chemicals. Find out what’s happening in Alaska and how you can support Alaska House Bill 63 which follows the lead of other states and would ban the importation of consumer products containing PBDEs.

About PBDEs:

PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) are toxic flame retardant chemicals found in some electronics, furniture foams, fabrics, and kitchen appliances. PBDEs are not permanently bound to products and are released into our homes, workplaces and the outdoor environment. They are persistent, bioaccumulative environmental contaminants and are largely unregulated in the United States. People are exposed in multiple ways, including contaminated air, household dust, and foods. PBDEs interfere with thyroid function, cause problems with brain development, and disrupt learning, memory and behavior. Babies are exposed in their mother’s womb and through breast milk.

This call covers:

  • The effects of PBDE exposure on thyroid function, cardiovascular function, and birth outcomes.
  • Why more than a dozen states have passed policies to ban PBDEs and how you can support HB 63 to phase out the use, sale, and manufacture of products containing PBDEs.

Featured speakers

Ami Zota, ScD, postdoctoral fellow, University of California San Francisco Program on Reproductive Health & Environment. Dr. Zotauses her expertise in epidemiology, exposure assessment, and environmental justice to investigate the cumulative impacts of environmental and social factors on reproductive health. Her current work focuses on effects of environmental chemicals exposure (such as PBDE flame retardants, PCBs, and PFOAs) on thyroid function, cardiovascular function, and birth outcomes in an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse population of pregnant women.

Kathleen A. Curtis, Executive Director, Clean and Healthy New York. Kathy Curtis has more than two decades of experience in NY’s environmental health movement, and is a widely recognized national leader. She is on the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families steering committee, participates in the Business-NGO Working Group for Safer Chemicals & Sustainable Materials and the steering committee of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, for which she coordinates the policy and advocacy workgroup. She co-coordinates the JustGreen Partnership, is the coordinator of the Hazardous Flame Retardant Campaign and is a long-time leader of the Coming Clean Collaborative’s Policy Workgroup, through which she co-founded the SAFER campaign.

She serves on the board of the Eastern NY Occupational Health Clinic, and the NYS Taskforce on Flame Retardant Safety. She was Executive Director at Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC) for the last four of her thirteen years there, which she began by establishing their community outreach program. Previously, she was Outreach Director at Environmental Planning Lobby (now Environmental Advocates of NY) and worked as a nurse. She lives in Rotterdam, NY where she serves on the Rotterdam Conservation Advisory Council, and recently achieved passage of a PBT-Free Purchasing Resolution. She has four children: Adam, Amber, Shannon and Vanessa and a step-daughter Rachel.

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