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Epidemic of Bromine Toxicity

The U.S. EPA reported a study that showed common chemicals—polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s) found in all our homes are contributing to a rash of thyroid problems in pets. This is a class of chemicals which are widely used in our modern society. PBDE’s are used in many common household items as a fire retardant. These items are found in a variety of consumer items including computers, televisions, carpeting, furniture and mattresses. PBDE’s are made from bromine.

Bromine, as I wrote in Iodine, Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, is from the family of halides. This chemical family contains iodine, fluoride and chlorine as well. Unfortunately, bromine is considered a toxic halogen as it has no known therapeutic use in the human body.

The reason we are seeing such a high prevalence of iodine deficiency and thyroid disorders is due, in large part, to the excess exposure of bromine from our modern conveniences. Over the years, I have checked hundreds of patients for their bromine levels and I have found elevated bromine levels (with most patient having very high levels) occurring in 100% of patients.

What does bromine do in the body? Bromine competitively inhibits iodine in the body. What this means is that bromine exposure will cause the body to excrete iodine and lead to iodine deficiency. If we don’t supplement with extra iodine, bromine will continually replace iodine all over our bodies. Even in the thyroid gland, bromine can replace iodine. What are the potential consequences of this? The consequences of this include increased rates of cancer of the breast, thyroid, ovary, uterus and prostate. Other consequences of increased bromine exposure include autoimmune illnesses such as autoimmune thyroid disorders. My experience has clearly shown, compared to those patients who do not have a serious medical illness, those with health issues have much higher bromine levels.

In the EPA study, household cats were found to have high bromine levels. What has bromine done to the poor cats? Cats are now suffering from an epidemic of hyperthyroidism. It used to be a rare condition with cats 35 years ago. In this study, the occurrence of hyperthyroidism was nearly 50%. The researchers found PBDE’s in 100% of the cats studied (23 cats). In the cats with hyperthyroidism, their PBDE levels were much higher as compared to cats without hyperthyroidism. Unfortunately, I see the same results with my human patients who suffer from thyroid disorders.

So, what can you do? Supplement with enough iodine to allow your body to detoxify from bromine. Furthermore, eat food that does not contain bromine such as organic fruits and vegetables. Stay away from bromine containing bread, pasta, cereal, and soda. Also, supplement with items that help your detoxification system function optimally. This can include Vitamins C, E, and selenium. Finally, ingest enough unrefined salt to help detoxify bromine from the body. Much more information about this can be found in my book, Iodine Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, 4th Edition.

Author Info

David Brownstein, M.D.

Comments ( 4 )

  • Author Icon

    Is there sufficient bromine in hair dye to cause problems ?

  • Author Icon
    Vickie Isaac

    Dr Brownstein ,

    I don’t know if you have seen articles about Alaska and American Airlines crewmembers and some other companies getting very sick from our uniforms.

    I think there are bromine containing flame retardants in them among other contaminants.

    There have been many reports of thyroid problems as well as autoimmune diseases and a few new reports of cancer.

    They have been looking for a “smoking gun” to figure out what is causing our illness. Over 5000 employees have reported reactions to the uniforms since we began wearing them 2 years ago.

    There are dozens of harmful chemicals and heavy metals in the uniforms, but they haven’t really looked at bromine because it is considered safe. At least safe enough to put in bread and swimming pools.

    What do you think? Do you think bromine in our uniforms could be causing pimply rashes, thyroid disease, breast problems, hair falling out, autoimmune diseases?

    • Author Icon

      Yes, bromine toxicity can cause multiple issues including the ones you mentioned. Levels of bromine can easily be tested at

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