More Bad News About Flame Retardants: They May Make Your Kid a Bully

A new study says the fire-resistant products in your home may be the cause of aggressive behavior in your children.
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We already know that exposure to flame retardants can negatively affect motor skills, learning, memory, and hearing in developing babies and young children. But now new research shows the same flame retardant chemicals added to things like electronics, furniture, and carpets may actually increase aggressive behavior in young children.

Pretty scary!

Scientists at Oregon State University observed 92 children ages 3 to 5, all of whom were exposed to some level of flame retardant. After analyzing data collected from parent, teacher, and caregiver questionnaires, the researchers found that the kids who were exposed to higher levels of the chemicals displayed aggression, hyperactivity, bullying behavior, and the inability to focus.

"When we analyzed behavior assessments and exposure levels, we observed that the children who had more exposure to certain types of the flame retardant were more likely to exhibit externalizing behaviors such as aggression, defiance, hyperactivity, inattention, and bullying," explained Molly Kile, an environmental epidemiologist and associate professor at OSU. She explained that this was a significant finding because no one had studied the behavioral effects in these types of flame retardants before.

The results are definitely a cause for concern, considering flame retardants have been around since the mid-70s, and can be found in everything from gym mats and kids car seats to office chairs and household electronics. So what can you do to limit your kids' exposure to these harmful chemicals and keep your family safe?

The Environmental Working Group offers the following tips:

  • Buy flame retardant-free products (check labels).
  • Vacuum with a HEPA filter and wet mop household surfaces.
  • Wash hands before eating.
  • Dispose of damaged cushions and replace with retardant-free versions.
  • Don't ever try to reupholster furniture or replace carpeting yourself.

For more information, visit the EWG website.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of two who writes about parenting and pop culture. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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