Good news for people who like functional brains: A flame retardant — that’s also a suspected neurotoxin and carcinogen — is going to be phased out soon.
That scary chemical is decabromodiphenyl ether, a.k.a. Deca, which a type of of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE). PBDEs are flame-retardant chemicals used in many consumer goods, and deca is especially known for its use in TV sets — and more alarmingly, in plastic pallets used to store some fruits and veggies.
In fact, earlier this year I wrote about Deca and other PBDEs getting into our food supply, whether via these pallets or through even less-trackable environmental leaching from worn-out goods, factories, and landfills! Worries over Deca apparently made enough alarms go off that Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) introduced the Decabromine Elimination and Control Act of 200 (H.R. 4394) — and that bill made enough alarms go off in the chemical industry that a Deca phase-out agreement was reached just two days later.
So now, Deca will be phased out, thanks to a voluntary agreement between three large chemical companies — Chemtura, Albemarle and ICL Industrial Products — and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Come December 2012, Deca will no longer be imported or used in U.S. consumer products. And in Dec. 2013, Deca will be officially fully banned.
How can you avoid exposing yourself to Deca? Avoiding Deca entirely seems pretty much impossible, since PBDEs — like many other persistent chemicals — have already deeply infiltrated our environment and our bodies. But since PBDEs bioaccumulate, eating less meat can help lower the amount of PDBEs you consume. Opting for local, fresh produce — thereby avoiding potential Deca-contamination from shipping pallets — could help too.