Flame Retardants Cost Kids 162 IQ Points

Written by:

Maia James

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Did you guys all see the important research about the dangers of flame retardant chemicals that came out last week?

In case you haven’t seen the headlines, here are the key points from the study:

  • New research from NYU revealed that flame retardants (specifically PBDEs) pose a growing threat children’s IQ–more than lead or mercury.
  • The damage done by these chemicals can be sudden and cannot be reserved once it occurs.
  • The study found that flame retardants cost U.S. children 162 million IQ points between 2001 and 2016. Lead cost them 78 million IQ points during this same15-year period, while pesticides caused a loss of almost 27 million IQ points and mercury caused a loss of 2.5 million IQ points.
  • Some states have adopted legislation that restricts the use of flame retardants in household products, but none of the chemicals are banned federally.

It’s worth noting that a lower IQ isn’t the only risk from exposure to PBDEs. They are also linked with cancer, thyroid disorders, hyperactivity, and a bunch of other scary stuff.


Where Are Flame Retardants Found?

If you’re wondering which products contain flame retardants, here is a partial list:

  • Mattresses
  • Sofas and upholstered furniture
  • Electronics
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Curtains
  • Airplane and car interiors
  • Car seats and strollers
Non-toxic-Carpet Gimme the Good Stuff
Our post on carpets can help you find one without flame retardants.

Of course, where these chemicals are added is not the same as where they are found. PBDEs are heavily concentrated in household dust, and are unfortunately now in our food supply and soil.

Is Foam Safe After It Off-Gasses?

I want to clear up a myth about “off-gassing.” Unfortunately, foam–like the stuff that’s in a mattress–that has been treated with PBDEs will never off-gas. (By “off-gas,” I mean finish releasing toxins and become inert–the way paint, etc., eventually will.) As the foam degrades over time, it actually releases more chemicals, which then gather in household dust.

medley sofas gimme the good stuff
The Medley sofas in my parents’ living room don’t contain flame retardants. Get 5% off with code GOODSTUFF5.

Reducing Your Exposure to Flame Retardant Chemicals

This is all super scary, but don’t panic. Here are four straightforward ways to reduce your exposure to flame retardant chemicals:

1) Our Safe Mattress Guide provides lots of options for mattresses that do NOT contain PBDE chemicals–these are now easier to find than ever. Anything we’ve listed as Best Stuff, Good Stuff, or even Okay Stuff will be free of flame retardants.

2) You can also check our posts on rugs, carpeting, and sofas to make sure you aren’t exposing your family from these sources. Note: My top sofa pick, Medley, extends my readers 5% off with code GOODSTUFF5.

3) Sweeping just spreads the toxins around. Instead, use a HEPA-sealed vaccuum or a wet mop to reduce toxic dust.

4) PBDEs accumulate in fats–highest levels are found in poultry (even organic), and they are also present in cheese and beef. Eating less meat and dairy will cut your exposure.

Stay sane,

Maia, Founder & CEO

Note: This article contains affiliate links or sponsored content, which means that if you make a purchase, we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that meet our strict standards for non-toxicity and that we use (or want to use!) ourselves. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Good Stuff! 

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