Issue Date: April 6, 2009
Flame Retardants Found In All U.S. Coastal Waters
A family of widely used and potentially toxic flame retardants has been found in all U.S. coastal waters and the Great Lakes, NOAA announced last week. The new findings contrast with earlier studies that found the chemicals, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), in just a few places around the U.S., NOAA says. PBDEs are linked to liver, thyroid, and neurological problems. John H. Dunnigan, NOAA assistant administrator of the National Ocean Service, calls for action to reduce the threats that PBDEs pose to aquatic life and human health. In its study, NOAA found the greatest overall concentrations of the flame retardants in urbanized and industrial areas. The highest concentrations of PBDEs in sediments and shellfish were in New York’s Hudson Raritan Estuary, and the highest specific measurements were in shellfish from California’s Anaheim Bay and four sites in the Hudson Raritan Estuary. NOAA’s report is available at ccma.nos.noaa.gov/about/coast/nsandt/PBDEreport.html.
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