"In the early 2000s, researchers tested breast milk samples from U.S. mothers and found high levels of toxic compounds used as a common flame retardant in household items.
The compounds, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), were gradually phased out after a link was found with certain health risks. It sounds like a public health success story, but new research suggests it may not be quite that simple.
This summer, scientists detected a new set of similar flame retardants in the breast milk of 50 U.S. women.
Brominated flame retardants — the class of compounds that includes PBDEs and these new compounds — were first developed in the 1970s to prevent burning in household electronics and appliances. Because they're used in so many different products, we come in contact with these compounds in our daily lives, says Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a professor of pediatrics and environmental health at the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Research Institute who is one of the authors of this study."