Thyroid-altering PBDEs found in contaminated butter

Researchers are currently discussing what is referred to as the worst documented case of food contamination with polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants in the country, according to Health Day. The scientists report that they found high levels of PBDE - which can alter thyroid hormone levels - in butter, which may be the first time this type of contamination has occurred as a result of packaging.

The study, which is published in the online and print issues of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, reveals that one in 10 samples of butter bought at five Dallas grocery stores had PBDE levels that were more than 135 times higher than the average of the other nine samples.

Deca-BDE - a PBDE compound commonly used in electronics, textiles, cable insulation and car components - was found in levels that were more than 900 times higher in the contaminated samples than in the other nine.

The research also reveals that PBDE levels in the butter's paper wrapper were more than 16 times higher than levels found in the butter.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there is growing evidence that PBDEs persist in the environment and accumulate in living organisms, as well as toxicological testing that indicates these chemicals may cause liver, thyroid and neurodevelopmental toxicity.