The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has reviewed the evidence for deca-BDE and wasn’t able to determine whether exposure to this specific PBDE causes cancer in humans. Based on studies done in rats and mice, the Environmental Protection Agency has classified deca-BDE as 'suggestive of carcinogenic potential'. Learn more about how cancer-causing substances are classified.
PBDEs also have endocrine-disrupting properties. This means they may mimic or behave like hormones and can interfere with the normal hormonal activity in our bodies. Endocrine disruptions can lead to certain types of cancer. In lab animals (rats and mice), certain PBDEs have affected the:
- production of the thyroid hormone
- development of the reproductive system
- behaviour of adult animals exposed to PBDEs at a young age
PBDEs have also been found in fish and marine animals, and in human blood, fatty tissues and breast milk. However, the levels of PBDEs in people are much lower than the levels that produced these effects in rats and mice.
PBDE levels seem to have been building up in both people and animals over the last 20 years. We do not know what this means for people’s health.
Currently there is not enough scientific evidence to confirm whether or not PBDEs increase the risk of cancer in people.