Industry uses flame retardants in many manufacturing processes and products, exposing humans and wildlife to these chemicals in various ways. One way is they migrate out of consumer products like furniture, electronics, flooring, and clothing. Through air, dust, and skin contact, they then migrate into bodies, accumulating in fat and contaminating breast milk. They cause reproductive and neurological effects in developing foetuses and infants, and they cause diabetes and obesity, lower sperm counts and infertility, and cancers. As endocrine disruptors, flame retardants can be harmful at very low doses, particularly in “critical windows of susceptibility” such as in utero, or during puberty and pregnancy. Some groups have elevated health risks, such as gymnasts, who tumble on mats dosed in flame retardants, and firefighters, who absorb toxics on the job through their skin and lungs, and who are fighting for bans.
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