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Can PBDEs Harm Your Pet?

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Eliminate Toxic PBDEs

An industrial chemical known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) used in home furnishings could be diminishing your pet's health.  This chemical is a flame retardant used by manufacturers to reduce the flammability of padded chairs, sofas, mattresses and other cushy seats in homes and offices.

You can reduce or eliminate the PBDE levels in your environment by choosing electronics made with alternatives to PBDEs available from Apple, Sony, Intel, Erickson, HP, Canon and Dell.  Select wild salmon rather than farmed fish.  Use lean meats, poultry, and low-fat dairy products rather than their higher fat counterparts.  Fatty tissue serves as an accumulation zone for PBDEs. 

The Environmental Protection Agency indicates that polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have a negative impact on your health and environment.  These chemicals in your home environment may be causing harm to your pet without your knowledge.

In the body, PBDEs are found in breast milk, blood and the blood of umbilical cords.  These chemical compounds persist in the environment and accumulate in wild animals.  They are thought to cause brain damage, birth defects, and contribute to disease of the liver and thyroid.

PBDE chemical compounds are used as flame retardants in industries that produce electronics, furniture and foam.  These products have a propensity of giving off airborne particles that build up in your home's dust.  Seventeen pet dogs who live primarily indoors participated in an analysis at Indiana University.  The analysis found their PBDE concentration levels to be five to 10 times higher than that of humans.

"In the U.S., we the have highest levels of flame retardants in our dust and in our bodies," indicates Arelene Blum, Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute.  Pollution in People asserts that these toxic PBDE industrial chemicals have been used for more than 30 years in the manufacturing of mattresses, furniture and consumer-used electronic plastics.

Household furniture is frequently produced with flame retardant chemicals and materials before it is shipped to consumers.  Furniture that is made with organic cotton stuffing or wool padding will be free of the hazards of PBDE.  This means when shopping for sofas, loveseats, easy chairs, mattresses and other furniture with seat, arm or back padding, it will be important to ask the contents.  Ask if flame retardants are used and if there are alternate choices.  Request that organic cotton or wool padding be provided as a condition of your purchase.  The use of flame retardant materials varies from state to state.  Its use will depend on governmental laws and regulations that are in effect.

It is estimated that approximately five percent of the weight of the petroleum-based fill known as polyurethane foam is flame retardant chemicals.  Polyurethane foam is used in nearly all sofas, easy chairs, loveseats and mattresses manufactured.

"PBDEs are an important, but generally unrecognized, persistent organic pollutant,'' advised Robert C. Hale in Nature.  Hale is a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences.  Persistent organic pollutants can remain in our environment for many years without breaking down.  Body fat in animals and humans become the storage zones for these pollutants. 

''There is an enormous need to act quickly when there is a problem with a chemical that is not only toxic but is persistent and accumulates,'' says Gina Solomon, Natural Resources Defense Council senior scientist.

Talk with your veterinarian about the impact of these industrial chemicals on your pet's health and wellness.  Your veterinarian will guide you in reducing the negative impact on your pet's health.

Sources:

Environmental Protection Agency.

Green Science Policy Institute.

Hale, Robert. Nature.

Main, Emily. Flame retardant furniture: Unhealthy, and doesn't stop fires.

Natural Resources Defense Council.

Pollution in People.

Practically Green.

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Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.

The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.

Sung L.
Rupert, ID

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