Flame retardants are a $4 billion industry. At the beginning this was done with a good intention, to prevent the products found in our homes from catching fire easily. What was not expected was their negative effects on human health and in particular on fertility.
The concentration of organophosphorus, organochlorine and organobromine flame retardants in the domestic environment directly affects men, women and children by affecting hormone levels (chemical message in the body) or sperm quality.
Here is an overview of the most common flame retardants that can be found in the dust of your indoor environment and their effects on fertility.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs made the days of the chemical industry in the middle of the 20th century and because of their persistence and accumulation they continue to affect many people around the world.
Epidemiological studies have shown a relationship between PCB exposure and male reproductive capacity. PCBs affect the concentration, mobility and morphology of sperm, the integrity of its DNA and testosterone levels.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
Widely used in the USA as a replacement for PCBs, PBDEs have particularly affected California residents as the chemical industry has been looking for a way to accommodate the state's strict fireproofing rules.
Since PCBs have long been banned, Americans have fallen from bad to worse because they are estimated to be twenty times more affected by this substance than Europeans.
The University of Berkeley conducted a study on more than two hundred pregnant women living in the Salinas Valley of California.
97% of these women were contaminated with PBDEs and those with the highest blood levels were half as likely to become pregnant.
Laboratory tests had demonstrated the effects of PBDEs on male hormones and sperm count in animals, but this study was the first to demonstrate the effects of PBDE on human fertility.
Tributyl phosphate (TBP) and Tri-Chloro-Ethyl-phosphate (TCEP)
While there is not yet sufficient data to demonstrate the effects of TBP and TCEP on human fertility, recent genetic studies in mice show their important role in the fertility of male subjects.
Tri-Phenyl-Phosphate (TPP), or organophosphate flame retardant (RFOP)
Introduced as an alternative to PBDEs, it is therefore found in the latest products. To date, its effects on reproduction have only been proven in animal studies where they disrupt the thyroid and sex hormones, which has direct consequences on fertility and foetal development.
It has been demonstrated, via the in vitro culture of human strains, that this product negatively affects the sperm production process (spermatogenesis).
PCBs, PBDEs, TBPs, TCEPs, TPPs, TBBPAs are all products that can cause infertility and because of their persistence can be present in your indoor air.
You can use a dust sample followed by a laboratory test to detect and identify flame retardents in order to eliminate their sources.
Flame Retardants Pollution TestIndoor air quality diagnosis to measure indoor air pollution by PCBs, PBDEs, organochlorines and organophosphates. Test with laboratory analysis. Order your Test
Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and male reproduction.
Ubiquitous Flame-Retardant Toxicants Impair Spermatogenesis in a Human Stem Cell Model.
Regulation of male fertility by X-linked genes.
Scientists link flame retardants and reduced human fertility.
Duke study links infertility to chemical found in nail polish, mattress pads.
Infertility linked to PCB exposure.