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Environmental Group Seeks Ban on Toxic Flame Retardants

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Local environmentalists are urging state legislators to ban certain flame retardants used in the manufacture of computers. They say the chemical retardants pose a threat to people's health.

The Citizens Environmental Coalition says two national groups they're associated sampled computer dust at 16 locations across the country, including two in New York.

"We took dusts from the computers -- dust that you would find on any computer -- and we sent it to a lab. We found high levels of chemicals in the dust," said Mike Schade, the coalition's Western New York Director.

The chemical retardants are known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers. He says they're as dangerous as PCB's.

"These chemicals just don't go away," Schade explained. "They actually build up in our bodies, accumulating in our fatty tissues. So, every exposure adds on to another.

"Just like PCBS and dioxin, and other toxic chemicals that build up in our bodies, these toxic flame retardants are also building up."

And Schade says these chemicals have been linked to behavioral changes, memory impairments and even cancer. He's calling on lawmakers in New York to join several other states that have banned the flame retardants.

"California banned the production and use of two types of flames retardants," Schade said. "The State of Washington has an executive order to develop a phase out plan for toxic flame retardants."

Schade said a number of computers makers are already redesigning their products to avoid the use of toxic fire retardants.