Levels of a cancer-causing flame retardant are increasing dramatically in the bodies of American adults and children, according to a new study – Temporal Trends in Exposure to Organophosphate Flame Retardants in the United States – led by Duke University scientists, in collaboration with researchers at EWG and other universities.
2017 Study Abstract
During the past decade, use of organophosphate compounds as flame retardants and plasticizers has increased. Numerous studies investigating biomarkers (i.e., urinary metabolites) demonstrate ubiquitous human exposure and suggest that human exposure may be increasing.
To formally assess temporal trends, we combined data from 14 U.S. epidemiologic studies for which our laboratory group previously assessed exposure to two commonly used organophosphate compounds, tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCIPP) and triphenyl phosphate (TPHP). Using individual-level data and samples collected between 2002 and 2015, we assessed temporal and seasonal trends in urinary bis (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (BDCIPP) and diphenyl phosphate (DPHP), the metabolites of TDCIPP and TPHP, respectively.
- Data suggest that BDCIPP concentrations have increased dramatically since 2002. Samples collected in 2014 and 2015 had BDCIPP concentrations that were more than 15 times higher than those collected in 2002 and 2003 (10β = 16.5; 95% confidence interval from 9.64 to 28.3).
- Our results also demonstrate significant increases in DPHP levels; however, increases were much smaller than for BDCIPP.
- Additionally, results suggest that exposure varies seasonally, with significantly higher levels of exposure in summer for both TDCIPP and TPHP.
Given these increases, more research is needed to determine whether the levels of exposure experienced by the general population are related to adverse health outcomes.
Study and Press Releases
- Temporal Trends in Exposure to Organophosphate Flame Retardants in the United States, American Chemical Society, DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.6b00475, February 8, 2017.
- Dramatic Rise in Flame Retardant Levels in Kids and Adults, ewg News Releases, FEBRUARY 8, 2017.
- Flame Retardant Chemicals Found in More People, consumer reports, February 13, 2017.