BABIES are at risk of being “pre-polluted” by dangerous toxins linked to cancer found in household items, MPs warned last night.
The chemicals – used in furniture and electronics – can infect infants through breast milk or even in the womb, a parliamentary report said.
And the report – from the Commons environmental audit committee – revealed breast milk in Britain had the world’s second-highest levels of flame retardants.
These chemicals are linked to cancer and disrupt hormones, the Daily Mail reported.
In their Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life report, MPs called for a ban on the most dangerous chemicals in food packaging.
Some of these chemicals are linked to DNA damage and can cause cancer.
There was also a call for a public information campaign to warn the public about their “chemical burden” and how to cut it.
MPs on the committee also demanded a reduction in the use of flame retardants in domestic furniture.
Grenfell fire survivors who are suffering health problems should also be tested urgently, the report said.
Committee chairman Mary Creagh MP said: “People are breathing in these toxic chemicals every day in their own homes where they expect to feel safe.
“It’s a frightening situation when there is growing evidence about the risks some flame retardants pose to human health.
“Most people assume that they aren’t at risk from toxic chemicals but the reality is different.
“Mums in the UK have some of the world’s highest concentrations of flame retardants in their breast milk, some of which have now been banned.”
Chemical flame retardants are still being widely used in our furnishings from children’s mattresses to sofas
Mary Creagh MP
The former Labour leadership candidate added: “Chemical flame retardants are still being widely used in our furnishings from children’s mattresses to sofas.
“Meanwhile the Government is sitting on its hands instead of changing regulations to ensure that the most toxic chemicals are taken out of use.”
Most dangerous flame retardant chemicals have been banned – but still pose a risk as they break down slowly and spread in dust and food.
As well as being linked to cancer, the chemicals have a toxic effect on the liver and kidneys.
Plastic food packaging also poses a major cause for concern, the report adds.
Michael Depledge, a University of Exeter professor who gave evidence to the committee in April, said: “As we are now living longer, we are accumulating levels in our bodies that are much higher than ever before – we do not know what the implications are of it.”
The British Furniture Confederation said: “We believe the furniture industry is fully in support of the need to identify and reduce the use of hazardous fire-retardant chemicals while still maintaining a high degree of fire safety.”
A Government spokesman said: “The UK’s furniture safety requirements are the highest in Europe.
“We are committed to improving environmental outcomes and reducing toxicity but need to do so in a clear, well-evidenced way.’
Hidden threat: Dangerous chemicals found in household items
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are found in furniture and some building materials
Risk: Toxic and can cause cancer
Makes plastics more flexible.
Found in food packaging, furniture and PVC plastic.
Risk: Chance of birth defects and brain problems
Lines food tins and is found in electronic toys and plastics
Risk: Increased chance of cancer and negatively affects the reproductive system
Found in waterproof clothing, non-stick pans and toys
Risk: Cancer and infertility
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