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GBlist: Plastic

I am still searching for information on toxicity of plastic especially
in potable water systems. I came upon some references(attached) about
flame retardants used in plastics and am wondering if anyone is familiar
with how extensive their usage might be in building components and what
the mechanism for absorption might be.

John Salmen

May 26,1996
Svenska Dagbladet, (conservative daily newspaper) reports that
several types of flame retardants are as dangerous as the
prohibited PCB and DDT.
Flame retardants are used in everything from computers to
textiles and they are increasingly being distributed in the
environment. Like PCB, flame retardants are found in seals in
Svalbard, in fish and fisheating birds in the Baltic and now
new analysis have found flame retardants in human blood.
Scientists fear that reproduction will be affected.
Up to 30 percent of the plastic casing in a computer or TV can
consist of flame retardants. A group of flame retardants, PBDE
are almost identical in their chemical structure to PCB which
binds to the thyroid gland which regulates many functions such
as behaviour, hunger, if one feels cold or warm, explains
professor Aake Bergman, professor of environmental chemsitry at
the University of Stockholm. We now have indications from
Holland that flame retardants bind in the same way as PCB does.

The TCO newspaper reports:
Siemens Nixdorf advertized that their computers did not contain
flame retardants. The article describes how the company had to
back down as it was discovered that they did indeed contain
flame retardants.
The article mentions that some manufacturers have received the
TCO95 cetrificate because their outside plastic casings on the
computers do not contain flame retardants. But inside, the
microchips still contain flame retardants. There is no
commercial alternative.
Most microchips these days contain a flame retardant
TBBA(tetra-bromide-bis-phenol A). The newspaper asked Conny
Oestman at the Work Life Institute about the dangers of long
term exposure. He replied: We know that TBBA is released in
small doses. It is bound in plastics, but a certain amount of
molecules can be outside the plastic. TBBA can also be absorbed
by blood and tissues and is broken down, very slowly. Swedish
scientists have found it in electrically sensitive individuals.
These chemicals are fat soluble and can be accumulated in the
body. This means that one can build up a high  concentration in
the body even though the levels of exposure, are very low.
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