Chemicals discovered in cat study 'show children also face risk'

Furniture chemicals found in the blood of cats may pose a health risk to children, researchers claim.

A Swedish team confirmed that cats are being exposed to brominated flame retardants as a result of inhaling household dust.

The chemicals are added to textiles, furniture and electronic equipment to prevent fires.

Some are suspected of posing a cancer risk, damaging nerves, or acting as endocrine disrupters that disturb hormonal balance.

Although a number of the flame retardants are banned or restricted in Europe, they continue to leach into the environment over periods of many years.

The scientists tested blood samples from cats and dust from children's and adult's bedrooms and living rooms.

Matching traces of brominated flame retardants were found both in the blood of the cats and household dust. The chemicals included ones currently in use and others that have been banned for decades.

Lead researcher Dr Jana Weiss, from Stockholm University, said: "By taking paired samples, we have greater insight into the environment that the cats live in.

"Moreover the cats in the study spent the majority of their time indoors and therefore air and dust in the home is expected to contribute more than the outdoor environment."

Flame retardant chemicals were also discovered in cat food at the 17 homes investigated.

The researchers wrote: "This is the first time a correlation between cat serum levels and household dust has been established, a finding that supports the hypothesis that dust is a significant exposure route for cats."

Children were likely to experience similar levels of exposure as the cats, said the scientists whose findings are reported in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Dr Weiss added: "The brominated flame retardants that have been measured in cats are known endocrine disruptors.

"It's particularly serious when small children ingest these substances because exposure during the development can have consequences later in life, such as thyroid disease."

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