NUI Galway researchers were part of a team who have found flame-retardant chemicals in the breast milk of Irish mothers.

Scientists from NUIG, the University of Birmingham and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland concluded that the presence of the chemicals in breast milk “indicates ubiquitous exposure of the Irish population to these contaminants”.

The Sunday Times reports that the chemicals found are used to treat products including electrical equipment, insulation foam and furniture and exposure pathways include dust, diet and touching treated fabrics.

The level of exposure of breastfeeding infants to the chemicals was below safe limits set out in legislation.

However, the authors noted that some research suggests much lower exposure limits are needed.

They examined 92 milk samples from women attending breastfeeding clinics at the Coombe maternity hospital and University Hospital Galway.

Last year the same researchers found that Irish people were exposed to toxic and potentially toxic flame retardants in their homes, cars schools and offices.

The governments consultation documents onUHG furniture fire regulations notes that “international studies have shown that certain flame retardants may be harmful and can pose a risk to humans.”

It suggests giving the furniture industry a lead-in time of between one and three years to stop using the chemicals


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