Cancer-causing Flame Retardants Found in Everyday Items Can Be Absorbed Through Skin

Cancer-causing Flame Retardants Found in Everyday Items Can Be Absorbed Through Skin

It has been discovered by scientists that cancer-causing flame retardants commonly found in everyday items like plastics, furniture, fabrics, and electronics can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin within a span of 24 hours according to a study published in the journal Environment International. This study utilized a state-of-the-art 3D-printed skin model to determine the risks associated with the exposure to these harmful chemicals, shedding new light on the potential dangers they pose to human health.

The study conducted by Brunel University London and the University of Birmingham revealed that sweatier skin has the capability to absorb more of the chemicals, specifically polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), when microplastics containing these chemicals come into contact with the skin. This highlights the importance of understanding how different conditions of the skin can impact the absorption of toxic additives, emphasizing the need for further research and awareness.

Microplastics, which are tiny plastic particles measuring less than five millimeters, have been found in various human body parts, raising concerns about their potential health risks. Studies on oysters, fish, mice, and fleas have indicated that microplastics can disrupt reproductive hormones, alter feeding patterns, and cause liver damage. Flame retardants like PBDEs are particularly worrisome due to their known carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting properties, making them a significant environmental and health risk.

Skin Absorption and Bloodstream Entry

The study demonstrated that chemicals added to microplastics can leach out into human sweat, with as much as 8% of the chemical penetrating the skin barrier. Within 24 hours, up to 0.1% of that amount had already migrated to the bloodstream, highlighting the rapid absorption and potential health implications of skin exposure to these toxic additives. Utilizing 3D-printed skin models provided a unique insight into how these chemicals can enter the human body, urging policymakers to take action to regulate and mitigate these risks.

Dr. Ovokeroye Abafe, the lead exposure scientist involved in the research, emphasized the importance of these findings in urging governments and funders to reassess legislation surrounding the use of microplastics and toxic additives. The study presents critical experimental evidence showing the detrimental effects of dermal exposure to microplastics containing harmful chemicals linked to various diseases, including cancer, endocrine disruption, and reproductive problems. The presence of unregulated toxic additives in microplastics poses a significant threat to human health, necessitating a comprehensive approach to address and mitigate these risks.

The study on the absorption of cancer-causing flame retardants through the skin via microplastics serves as a wake-up call to regulators, policymakers, and the general public about the potential health risks associated with these pervasive pollutants. By leveraging advanced techniques such as 3D-printed skin models, scientists have unveiled the alarming reality of how these toxic additives can enter the bloodstream within a short timeframe, underscoring the urgent need for enhanced regulation, awareness, and research to safeguard public health against the dangers of microplastics.


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