PBDE and decaBDE dust remains a health risk for domestic cats?

I am revisiting feline hyperthyroidism (FH) which affects at least 10 percent of feline patients over 10 years of age. FH was unheard of until the 1970s. At that time veterinarians had no idea about it. There was a surge in FH cases which mirrored the use of PBDE (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers) fire retardants. The connection between the disease and these chemicals seems to be undeniable. Although the experts have not stated conclusively that PBDEs cause FH. And decaBDE were used in computers. They were part of the plastic and these computers were in schools.

Fire retardants in sofas and FH?
Fire retardants in sofas and FH – feline hyperthyroidism? Image: MikeB
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

“PBDEs can be itinerant compounds; they leach from our sofas and TVs and latch onto particles of house dust, coating our floors and furniture,” says Emily Anthes in her 2017 article for The New York Times. She charts the history of FH and the mirrored history of PBDE. It is the interesting word ‘itinerant’ which is telling.

The chemicals leach out of these products and remain in the environment as dust. It is difficult to research how extensive the bans on the use of PBDEs are. It obviously varies from country to country. And my research indicates that the other variety of PBDEs, decaBDE may still be in computers and other electronic products. If that is so they are leaching these chemicals into the environment.

USA: Furniture That Is Fire Retardant Free

Let’s take one country, India. “India has banned the manufacture, trade, import, and use of HBB, HBCDD and some PBDEs, and has established concentration limits for all PBDEs in certain electrical goods,” according to the PubMed website. That tells me that their ban is not 100%. Are they exporting products to the USA and UK and other countries containing PBDEs? I don’t know. It is a very complicated subject.

However, the indications are that despite this hotchpot of bans in various countries households with pets remain at risk of poisoning by PBDEs. My further research indicates that the current prevalence (2021) of FH is 10-25% (Peterson, Mark. (2013). More Than Just T4: Diagnostic testing for hyperthyroidism in cats. Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery. 15. 765-77). It is not clear to which country this applies. The point is made though. FH is still affecting a substantial percentage of older cats.

This supports the view that PBDEs are still in the home environment. I think cat owners need to be aware of this. They may be able to do something about it such as checking if their elderly and loved sofa contains fire retardants and if so to get rid of it.

As I said at the beginning, our cats do not need to suffer from FH. It appears to be a wholly human-created feline disease. We made our homes toxic for cats.

It seems that these chemicals also cause diabetes! This is a serious issue which is why I have revisited it.

Feline Diabetes caused by fire-retardants in carpets, curtains and upholstery

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