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April 13, 2005

Health Risks Associated With Polychlorinated Biphenyls

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2005;293(14):1725. doi:10.1001/jama.293.14.1725-a

To the Editor: In the Medical News & Perspectives article on polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) health risks,1 Mr Mitka interviewed Richard Seegal, PhD, who stated that research information from PCBs may be translated to polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE). However, PCBs are not the same as PBDEs. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are a distinct chemical category, within which are a number of differing congeners, some of which have provided effective and safe flame retardants in applications like plastics, foams, carpet backing, and others. The “deca” form of PBDEs is a leading choice to meet stringent fire safety standards for approved applications, as demand for the material indicates. The health and environment profile of deca-BDE is supported by a 10-year risk assessment completed by the European Union in mid-2004 that found no need for risk reduction for this life-saving material.2

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