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Chemical In Car Seats May Increase Cancer Risks For Long Commuters: Study

Having a long commute to work or school may increase an individual’s exposure to cancer-causing flame retardants, according to the findings of a new study.

Exposure to flame retardant chemicals after only one week of commuting could increase the risk of cancer and other serious side effects, according to University of California, Riverside, and Duke University researchers. The findings were published in the March issue of the journal Environment International.

Researchers studied exposure to flame retardants used in vehicle parts. They focused on tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCIPP), a common flame retardant and known carcinogen used to manufacture vehicle seat foam.

Nearly 100 participants who commuted in Southern California were asked to wear silicone wristbands to monitor organophosphates esters (OPE) and semi-volatile organic compound (SVOC) exposure for five continuous days. They were also asked to  complete daily surveys about the amount of time spent commuting.

The findings indicate that a long commute increases a person’s exposure to TDCIPP. Less than one week of commuting resulted in elevated exposure to the flame retardant, according to the researchers.

Recent studies have shown many humans have exposure to high levels of toxic flame retardants which are harmful to the human body. Other studies have linked exposure to these chemicals to increased risk of preterm birth and negative effects to thyroid function.

Flame retardants are often used to treat children’s car seats, play equipment, furniture, and the foam in gymnastic equipment.

OPEs, including flame retardants can migrate out of consumer products. The residue is often found in car dust samples around the world.

Considering large portions of the human population live in large cities and surrounding areas, and spend one or more hours in their car everyday commuting to and from work and other activities, researchers warn this could lead to long-term exposure to TDCIPP and eventually serious health side effects.

“Overall, our findings raise concerns about the potential for chronic TDCIPP exposure within vehicles and other forms of transportation, particularly within densely populated and traffic-congested areas such as Southern California,” the researchers determined.

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