Thursday, March 10, 2016

Flame retardants in Lake Erie smallmouth bass can cause cancer, contaminate breast milk, study finds

Flame retardants commonly used in furniture, electronics, construction materials and textiles are contaminating smallmouth bass in Lake Erie and posing health concerns for people that consume the fish, says a report published in Science Direct, Morgan Linn reports for the Great Lakes Echo, a project of the journalism department at Michigan State University. Despite being discontinued in 2013, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are still in Lake Erie water and sediment, says the study. PBDE dust particles spread through the air and contaminated the lakes, said Michael Murray, a staff scientist for National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office in Michigan.

The study found that some people who consume the contaminated smallmouth bass "now have elevated levels of PBDEs, a chemical linked to hypothyroidism, neurotoxic damage and cancer," Linn writes. If pregnant women are exposed to the chemicals it can go into their breast milk, Murray said. He told Linn, “The big issue with PBDEs is that they can block thyroid receptors. Your body thinks it’s producing too much thyroid hormone, but in reality it’s just these PBDEs that are mimicking that, and it makes your body stop (producing the hormone)." He said eating one smallmouth bass might not be bad, but having bass a couple times in one month could be." He told Linn, "You’re going to start bioaccumulating these PBDEs yourself and then keeping them in your system and blocking these thyroid receptors." (Read more)

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