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How to Detox from Flame Retardants

Flame retardants are a wide range of chemicals that are used in the manufacture of plastics, resin and textiles. As the name indicates, their purpose is to help ensure that the products containing flame retardants will be resistant to fire. The retardants are therefore used to help protect your home against fire.

You use products with flame retardants every day of your life. They can be found in the textiles used to make your clothes, in the upholstery of your furniture, in your mattress and in most foam products. Flame retardants can be found in your carpets, curtains and your blinds. It is found in numerous electronic products such as your laptop, telephone, television and most of your home appliances. All your wiring and cables contain flame retardants.

Are Flame Retardants Dangerous?

The short answer is YES. Scientists have warned about the potential health risks associated with flame retardants as far back as the mid seventies. In fact, certain flame retardants have subsequently been banned but unfortunately, manufacturers simply replaced them with other chemicals just as toxic. The most widely used chemical for this purpose is now Bromonated flame retardants that have been proven in study after study to be highly toxic.

The bodies of all humans and animals that come into regular contact with products containing flame retardant chemicals slowly but surely build up a residue of potentially very harmful chemicals. Studies have shown that they even leech into the water, air and the soil! There is a myriad of health problems directly associated with the presence of these chemicals in the body. The list is certainly scary! Here are just a few of the health threats posed by these chemicals (there are many others):

  • Neurological interference
  • Learning problems and ADHD is children
  • Cancer
  • Adverse effect on fetal development
  • Negative impact on the immune system
  • Reproductive toxicity
  • Thyroid disruption

Unfortunately, children are the most vulnerable when it comes to health problems related to these chemicals.

Detoxing from Flame Retardants

You may think that it would be all but impossible to rid your home of products that contain flame retardants. The very idea of getting rid of all appliances, furniture and materials that contain these chemicals is a ridiculous one. No, you cannot totally eliminate your exposure to them and even if it was possible, what about your workplace, shopping centers, your car and everywhere else you go? Do not give up on the idea of detoxing your home as a hopeless crusade, however! There is much that you can do to reduce your exposure to these chemicals.

  1. Be alert when you shop. When you buy clothes, furniture, soft furnishings, appliances and even pre-packaged food, look out for the secret code: PVC and/or VOC Free. If the label is not clear on this issue it probably contains flame retardants. When you buy products such as towels, clothes, pillows, duvets and bedding, rather opt for a natural material and avoid all synthetic materials.
  2. Reduce your plastic consumption. All plastics contain some form of flame retardant. It may not be possible to avoid plastics altogether but you certainly can opt for re-usable organic shopping bags, glass packaging and non-plastic storage containers. And while we are on the topic of plastics: never ever microwave food in plastic containers! A whole host of harmful chemicals can be released in the process.
  3. Rethink your use of fragrances. We all love that fresh smell of lemony laundry, air fresheners and detergents. But here’s a wake-up call: most fragrant products contain high levels of chemicals. Rather use natural products.
  4. Pesticides are very bad for you. Most homes stock at least some pesticides. They are convenient and they work well. The truth is, pesticides are one of the main culprits when it comes to exposing yourself to harmful chemicals. There are plenty of environmentally friendly products that work just as well. And don’t forget: most of the fresh produce you buy has been treated with pesticides. Switch to organic food or at least thoroughly wash your fruit and vegetable before eating them.
  5. Ventilate your home. A high-performance air filtration system will dramatically reduce your exposure. If this is not feasible, at least open your windows and doors, allowing a flow of fresh air through your home.
  6. Dust and vacuum regularly. Flame retardant chemicals accumulate in the dust. It will help if you do as much as you can to keep your home dust free. So dust frequently and vacuum regularly.
  7. Eliminate dry cleaning. The most common solvent used in the dry cleaning process is Percholorethylene, a particularly nasty flame retardant chemical. High concentrations of this chemical are trapped in your clothing, exposing your body to steady doses of a chemical that is said to cause cancer, liver and kidney damage and even damage to the central nervous system. There are alternatives to dry cleaning!
  8. Watch your personal care products. It is astonishing to learn just how many personal care products contain flame retardant chemicals. Nail polish, hair strengtheners, certain shampoos and soaps, fragrant creams and numerous other care products are found in almost all homes. The golden rule here is to simply avoid care products that contain any chemicals whatsoever.
  9. Safeguard your children. Children are particularly vulnerable to flame retardant chemicals. In some studies toxic levels in children were three times as high as in adults. It may not be possible to totally eliminate products containing these chemicals from your home, but perhaps you are able to make your children safer. Here are some suggestions:
  • Make sure they wash their hands regularly, even after contact with electronic equipment such as computers and game consoles.
  • Replace their bedding and the furnishings in their bedrooms with products totally VOC free.
  • Avoid serving them food and drink in plastic containers.

In summary…

You may not be able to completely eliminate exposure to harmful flame retardant chemicals but you are not totally helpless either. Just being aware of the sources of these chemicals can help you take some steps to detox and limit the potential damage. Take those steps! Your heath and the health of your family are always of paramount importance.