ByDr. Edward F. Group

PBDE is a chemical flame retardant that was widely used in a number of common consumer products, including couches, carpet padding, and electronics, between the 1970s and early 2000s. The chemical compound can enter the human body through food or through the inhalation of household dust, and exposure in pregnant women may be harmful to developing fetuses.

Three separate prospective studies now link polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDEs) to children’s impaired performance on neurodevelopmental tests, and evidence from all three studies strongly suggests that PBDEs are developmental neurotoxicants.

The Effects of PBDEs on Children

The latest study on PBDEs which looked at a birth cohort of 309 pregnant women between 2003 and 2006 near Cincinnati, Ohio, followed the developmental progress of the women’s children through age 5. Researchers found a statistically significant inverse relationship between BDE-47 (a type of PentaBDE) and the children’s IQ scores. [1]The first two studies, which took place in California and New York, found similar evidence of this inverse relationship.

If PBDE is a neurotoxicant, it could have far-reaching effects for individuals, families, and the country as a whole. Even a 5-point downward shift in IQ scores could mean as many as 3.4 more million American children would be considered intellectually disabled and would incur the costs of treatment, special education, and lost income over the course of their lifetimes.

Other Effects

PBDEs may produce unfavorable changes in thyroid health, possibly leading to hyper- or hypothyroidism. When this occurs, there is typically an imbalance in essential hormones, leading to impaired metabolism, poor mood, and a lack of energy.

As an endocrine disruptor, PBDEs may also produce pseudoestrogens, or estrogen mimickers, in the body. This can have far-reaching effects on the body, particularly a male’s reproductive system. It is uncertain as to the long-term effects of PBDEs on the body in relation to its ability to behave as a hormone imitator. [2]

How to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to PBDEs

Fortunately, there is some evidence that PBDE levels are declining in the US, but many households still contain older products (such as couches) that were manufactured with this flame retardant.

Researchers recommend that pregnant women and anyone else concerned about PBDE levels wash their hands frequently, use HEPA filters with their vacuums, and dust using wet cloths. It’s also advisable to replace any foam-containing furniture that is ripped or has become misshapen.

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM


  1. Kellyn S. Betts. More Evidence for PBDEs as Neurotoxicants: Cohort Study Corroborates Earlier Findings. Environ Health Perspect; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.122-A221.
  2. I A Meerts, R J Letcher, S Hoving, et al. In vitro estrogenicity of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, hydroxylated PBDEs, and polybrominated bisphenol A compounds. Environ Health Perspect. Apr 2001; 109(4): 399=407.

Previous articles by Dr. Group:

About the author:

Dr. Edward F. Group III (DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM) foundedGlobal Healing Centerin 1998 and is currently the Chief Executive Officer. Heading up the research and development team, Dr. Group assumes a hands-on approach in producing new and advanced degenerative disease products and information.

Dr. Group has studied natural healing methods for over 20 years and now teaches individuals and practitioners all around the world. He no longer sees patients but solely concentrates on spreading the word of health and wellness to the global community. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center, Inc. has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the internet.

For more information, please visitGlobal Healing Center.