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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown Researchers Assess Organophosphate Flame Retardant Metabolites among Pregnant Women in Rhode Island

Pregnant women in Rhode Island are commonly exposed to several different organophosphate flame retardants, according to a new study by researchers at Brown, Dartmouth, Yale, and the CDC.

To meet state and federal flammability standards, consumer products such as electronics and furniture are often treated with chemical flame retardants. Following the 2004 phase out of specific mixtures of flame retardants due to health and safety concerns, organophosphate flame retardants have been increasingly used in consumer products including residential furniture and baby products. Data on both human exposure to these chemicals and associated potential adverse health outcomes is still limited, particularly during the sensitive window of pregnancy.

The purpose of this study was to assess the concentrations of nine urinary metabolites of organophosphate flame retardant among pregnant women in Rhode Island and the associations of these urinary metabolites with sociodemographic and dietary predictors. In 2014-2015, 59 women from Providence, Rhode Island provided up to three spot urine samples during pregnancy. Two urine metabolites were found in over 90 percent of women, while an additional two metabolites were found in over half the sample. Higher maternal weight, lower education, and lower income were all related to higher concentrations of some metabolites, while dietary factors were generally not predictive of concentration.

The results of this study, published in Environmental Health, suggest that women are commonly exposed to organophosphate flame retardants, underscoring the need to increase our understanding of the possible health effects associated with exposure during pregnancy.