Britons being exposed to toxic chemicals from birth, MPs say

July 16, 2019

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Britons are being exposed to a “cocktail of chemicals” from the womb onwards, with potentially life-threatening consequences, MPs have warned. Ministers were accused of “sitting on their hands” while “unnecessary and potentially toxic” chemicals continued to enter people’s homes. The Commons environmental audit committee (EAC) report raised particular concerns about flame-retardant chemicals used in home furnishings, with UK mothers having some of the world’s highest concentrations of the substances in their breast milk. It also warned that “recent studies have discovered banned flame retardants in the umbilical cord blood of newborns”. The EAC warned that since the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 were introduced, some of the most commonly used flame retardants had been classed as being of “very high concern”. The report questioned the benefits of the substances, arguing that some can produce toxic smoke when exposed to fire. Labour MP Mary Creagh, who chairs the EAC, said: “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. Meanwhile the government is sitting on its hands instead of changing regulations to ensure that the most toxic chemicals are taken out of use.

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