CHEMTrust MAY 2024 / Read original article

new study published in Environmental Science and Technology has found potentially harmful flame retardants in the air of all tested vehicles.

101 US citizens, each owning a vehicle of model year 2015 or newer, hung a passive air sampler in their vehicle for 7 days. Around half of the participants also collected a foam sample from their vehicle seat.

Organophosphate esters (OPEs), a group of chemicals used as flame retardants and plasticisers were found in the air of 100% of the vehicles tested.

Flame retardants are added to products in order to delay ignition and slow down the spread of fires. They are used in vehicles to comply with flammability standards.

Some halogenated flame retardants are persistent, meaning they do not break down easily in the environment and may bioaccumulate (build-up) in the bodies of wildlife and humans. OPEs have been linked to adverse impacts on the endocrine system, reproductive health, and brain development. To learn more about the potential impacts of flame retardants on brain development, see our ‘No Brainer’ report.

Out of the OPEs detected, TCIPP, which is a suspected carcinogen, was the most common. It was detected in 99% of the air samplers and it was also the main flame retardant found in the vehicle seat foam. TCIPP is the most commonly detected OPE in UK cars, homes and rivers.

The concentrations of the flame retardants in air samplers were 2-5 times higher in summer than in winter.

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