Chlorinated organophosphate flame retardants (CIOPFR's) are among the most commonly detected flame retardants in furniture and electronics. Since they are not chemically bound to products, they migrate into indoor air and dust, where they can be inhaled or ingested. Unfortunately, although CIOPFR’s were introduced as an alternative to the previous family of health harming PBDE flame retardants, they have also been linked to negative health outcomes such as cancer and neurodevelopmental damage.
Looking to better understand trends in exposure and body burden, a group of researchers led by Duke University recently conducted a review of 14 previous studies to look at trends in levels of flame retardant metabolite levels in the urine of subjects. They found that between 2002 and 2015, levels of chlorinated Tris (TDCIPP) metabolites increased fifteenfold among adults, and by a factor of four among children between 2010 and 2015. This is despite the fact that TDCIPP was already on the radar as hazardous in the 1970’s when it was removed from children’s pajamas. It has subsequently been used in other products and is now showing up in people.
Until federal law turns towards a more precautionary approach, health care institutions can take the lead by moving away from flame retardants in their furnishings and some states are passing more protective laws.