May 21, 2024 at 12:44 pm

These Toxic Chemicals Were Once Thought To Keep Us Safe. Now They’re Leaching Into Your Skin Through Everyday Items

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

When you know better, you do better, but historically speaking, this has not been true of lucrative products whose creators know them to be harmful.

The powers that be were aware that leaded gasoline was harmful, that smoking killed, etc etc for years before they admitted any such thing to the public.

Now, flame-retardant chemicals that were introduced as things that might help save lives could be helping to end them prematurely instead.

The chemical compound in question is polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and they are added to items like upholstery, plastics, electronics, etc to act as a flame retardant.

Now, these PBDEs are associated with negative health effects like cancer – and this recent study suggests they can be easily absorbed through the skin.

In fact, they’ve been shown to turn up in the bloodstream within 24 hours after contact.

Study co-author Dr. Ovokeroye Abafe issued a statement about their findings.

“This is the first experimental evidence to show that certain additive chemicals linked with so many diseases – including cancer, endocrine disruption, and reproductive problems – enter the human body from dermal exposure to microplastics.”

They hope their results will encourage those in power to take significant steps to limit exposure.

“These results provide important experimental evidence for regulators and policy makers to legislate for microplastics and safeguard public health against such exposure.”

The researchers used 3D printed skin models using the main type of cell found in the epidermis – keratinocytes. They measured the amount of two common forms of PBDE that were absorbed from microplastics over the course of 24 hours.

The results showed as much as 8% of the exposure dose could be absorbed through touch alone, with higher amounts passing when the skin in question was wet or sweaty.

That number is deceptively small, since these chemicals are present in objects we might interact with many times a day, every day – like your sofa, for example.

“These chemicals are persistent, so with continuous or regular exposure to them, there will be a gradual accumulation to the point where they start to cause harm.”

Regulation of microplastics in general, and of PBDEs in particular, has been difficult because we lack understanding about the exact harms that can result from interacting with them.

Tests in the U.S. have found that the population has levels of a specific PBDE, BDE-47, in their blood 3 to 10x greater than in European populations.

“Unfortunately, there are myriad toxic additive chemicals, ranging from plasticizers to stabilizers in microplastics, some of which are not regulated, that can potentially find their way into the human system. Also significant is the uptake of these toxic additive chemicals through other human exposure pathways such as ingestion and inhalation of microplastics, of which nothing is known on the body burden of these additives.”

Kind of puts a damper on how nice it feels to relax on the couch.

Sorry about that.

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