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Most furniture, computers, mattresses, television sets and other items have flame retardants in them to ensure they meet fire safety standards.  The challenge is that the fire retardants start to degrade right away.  They leach and then can be found in dust, on surfaces and work themselves onto our hands or food so they are easily ingested.  Flame retardants have been linked to diabetes, cancer, hormone disruption and memory loss.  In May 2012, the Chicago Tribune conducted an investigation on fire retardants, reporting that the science behind their efficacy does not hold up. On November 15, 2012 the San Francisco Chronicle reported on a new study from the University of California at Berkeley on the connection between polybrominated diphenyl ethers (a class of chemicals that areretardants) exposure and delays in child neurological development.  As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the new study is the largest to show that children exposed to PBDEs tend to have poorer attention, motor skills and IQ scores, said Brenda Eskenazi, the lead author and director of UC Berkeley's Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health and presenter of this webinar


  • Understand the goals of the Safer Chemicals Healthier Interior Challenge
  • Learn how to submit data for the HHI Engaged Leadership Challenge.
  • Refer to research making a connection between childhood exposure to PDES


Brenda Eskenazi, PhD, School of Public Health – Research Presentation, University of California at Berkeley
Brenda Eskenazi, PhD ,is the Jennifer and Brian Maxwell Professor of Maternal and Child Health and Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley.  She is a neuropsychologist and epidemiologist whose long-standing research interest has been the effects of toxicants including lead, solvents, environmental tobacco smoke, dioxin, and pesticides on human reproduction (both male and female) and child development.  She is the Principal Investigator (PI) and Director of an NIH/EPA Center for Excellence in Children's Environmental Health Research and its keystone project "CHAMACOS," which investigates the exposure pathways and health effects of pesticide exposure in farmworkers and their children and develops interventions to prevent future exposure. She is currently investigating associations between pubertal development and endocrine-disrupting chemicals including flame retardants and pesticides in children of the CHAMACOS cohort. She is also the Principal Investigator on other NIH-funded projects on endocrine disruption: one based in Seveso Italy investigating the reproductive health of a cohort of women exposed to high levels of dioxin, and another examining the effects of persistent and nonpersistent endocrine-disruptors on neurodevelopment. Dr. Eskenazi has just begun the VHEMBE study of the health effects of pyrethroids and DDT to children living in areas of South Africa sprayed for malaria control. Dr. Eskenazi has recently been awarded the LiKaShing award and the John R Goldsmith award for lifetime achievement in environmental epidemiology.

Janet Brown, Director, Content & Outreach, Healthier Hospitals Initiative – Introduction and HHI Challenge Review
Janet Brown is the Director of Facility Engagement for Practice Greenhealth, a membership-based, not for profit, working with over 1,000 hospitals nationally on environmental improvement strategies.  She is also Director, Content and Outreach for the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, a free, three year initiative designed to accelerate the widespread use of proven sustainability practices throughout the health care sector for improved health of patients, staff, and the community.  As Contributing Editor  for Health Care Design Magazine, she tells stories of hospitals and their commitment to healthy and respectful environments for staff, patients and the community.  Prior to joining Practice Greenhealth, Janet worked for Continuum Health Partners in New York City, pioneering sustainability in health care from 1991-2004.  You can read Janet’s columns on her linked in page.

Read Janet’s Green Columns

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