Flame Retardants

The Issue

In order to meet fire safety standards, chemicals that act as flame retardants are commonly added to a wide range of products such as IV pumps, televisions, computers, hospital beds, waiting-room chairs, and hospital privacy curtains. Unfortunately many of these flame retardant chemicals do not remain fixed in the product, and slowly leak into our air, dust, and water, eventually entering our food and bodies.

Evidence shows that a subset of these chemicals called "brominated flame retardants" (BFRs) are likely to bioaccumulate in people and cause adverse health effects in children. The breast milk of American women contains the highest levels of BFRs in human breast milk found anywhere in the world.

Health Care Without Harm is working with health care institutions to identify BFR-containing products and to switch to safer alternatives when possible.