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TEXAS (CBS News) – A new study from researchers at the University of Texas School of Public Health has revealed that flame retardant chemicals were found in many samples taken from popular North Texas food items.
While less than half of the tested food products had detectible levels of the chemical called hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), 15 out of the 36 items tested positive. HBCD is used in polystyrene foam in the building and construction industry and can be found worldwide in the environment and wildlife, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It has been highly toxic for aquatic organisms, and shown to have troubling effects on animal populations.
“The levels we found are lower than what the government agencies currently think are dangerous,” study author Dr. Arnold Schecter, a public health physician at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas, told WebMD. “But those levels were determined one chemical at a time.”
The results were published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a National Institute of Health publication, on May 31.
The researchers bought the samples from Dallas-area supermarkets between 2009 and 2010. The foods with detectable levels tended to be items with fish like canned sardines or fresh salmon or products with meat like deli-sliced turkey or ham in them. One out of the three varieties of chili with beans also tested positive.
A spokesperson for the North American Flame Retardant Alliance of the American Chemistry Council told WebMD that it should be noted that the majority of the tested items did not have HBCD, and if it was found in the product, it contained levels much lower than levels reported to show negative health effects.
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