London: Pet dogs could serve as 'biosentinels' for monitoring human exposure to toxic compounds present in shared households.
Marta Venier and Ronald Hites environmental scientists from the Indiana University believe pet dogs could help sense these compounds, thanks to the presence of chemical flame retardants in their blood at concentrations five to 10 times higher than in humans, but lower than levels found in a previous study of cats.

Dogs may be better proxies than cats, they say, because a dog's metabolism is better equipped to break down the chemicals, reports the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The study focuses on the presence of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the blood of dogs and in commercial dog food, according to an Indiana statement.

PBDEs have been widely used as flame retardants in household furniture and electronics equipment. The compounds can migrate out of the products and enter the environment.

"Even though they've been around for quite a while... The bottom line is that we still need to keep measuring them, particularly in homes," said Venier.

PBDE mixtures made up of less-brominated compounds are regarded as moredangerous because they bioaccumulate in animal tissues. These mixtures were banned by the European Union and were voluntarily removed from the US market in 2004, but remain in the environment. Mixtures with more-brominated compounds remain in use in the US, but will be phased out by 2013.

(Agencies)

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