Flame retardant chemicals are added to commercial and consumer products, such as plastics and textiles, to delay the production of flames and prevent the spread of fires. Some of these flame retardants, like PBDE and TDCIPP, have been associated with health and environmental concerns and while some are inadequately tested for public safety, they are still being added onto our everyday household items.
Because an item has been doused in flame retardants, it does not mean it will not catch on fire. Once on fire, the item can give off higher levels of carbon monoxide, soot and smoke than products not doused in them. They can build up in the environment and in our bodies.
Exposure to flame retardant chemicals at critical points of development for children can damage their reproductive system and cause deficits in their motor skills, memory and behavior. Some of these chemicals are known to be carcinogenic. Tests have shown higher levels of both PBDE and TDCIPP in both children and pets- likely because they are closer to the ground and breathe in dust and are frequently putting toys and other objects in their mouths.
They are common in consumer products like furniture, computers, televisions, building insulation and other everyday use products. They can also turn up in commonly used children products such as car seats, changing table pads, portable crib mattresses and nursing pillows.