flame retardant

Quick Reference

A chemical compound used to impregnate fabrics in order to render them fire resistant. One group of such substances, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), acquired notoriety when it accidentally contaminated cattle feed and caused an epidemic of bizarre wasting disease in 1973. Several hundred people, including pregnant women, consumed contaminated dairy products, and many developed a complex persistent neurological and generalized disease. A related flame retardant containing polybrominated diphenyl ethers is widely used in electronic equipment.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

Reference entries