Seattle’s Hannelore had twice the amount of PBDEs as mom Erika Schreder.

Chemical flame retardants used in countless consumer items were detected at higher levels in the blood of children compared to their parents, according to new research out today from an environmental organization.

Environmental Working Group found “that toddlers and preschoolers typically had three times as much of these hormone-disrupting chemicals in their blood as their mothers.” Among the 20 U.S. families sampled was a mother and child from Seattle.

The flame retardants, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, are added to electronics, TVs, beds, upholstered furniture and the inside of air planes to reduce fire risk. PBDE manufacturers in 2004 voluntarily stopped producing two forms of PBDEs — called penta and octa — after they were found in the environment.

But a third form called deca remains in wide use — and was detected in the families tested. The chemical can cause developmental and neurological defects in lab animals.

In Seattle, Erika Schreder, a staff scientist with the nonprofit Washington Toxics Coalition, was found to have half as much PBDE in herself compared to daughter Hannelore.

PBDEs are mixed into plastics and foams — but they can get back out again. They’re turning up in dust in homes and offices, breast milk, and fish, birds and other animals.

Last year state lawmakers approved a ban on deca in mattresses that began this year. The manufacture and sale of deca-containing TVs, computers and residential upholstered furniture will start in 2011 provided a safer, technically feasible substitute is found for making the items fire resistant.

An Australian study on PBDEs published last Friday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found levels of PBDEs in toddlers in a similar range to what was found in the U.S. study.

And I did this story last year that sums up the PBDE uses and risks.

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