Brominated Vegetable Oil-Flame Retardant in Sodas, OTC Medicines, Inhalers and more

If you consume soda, or electrolyte beverages, you may consider looking for a healthier way to hydrate your body. Many sodas such as Mountain Dew, Squirt, Sunkist Pineapple, Fresca Original Citrus, and electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade add a synthetic chemical called brominated vegetable oil or BVO. Adding BVO prevents the drink from separating. Brominated vegetable oil is an emulsifier and flavor carrier commonly added to citrus-flavored drinks. Without BVO, dyes would separate from the liquid and collect at the bottom of the bottle, and the flavoring would rise to the top.


Products Using Bromine
Bromine can be found in medications such as ipratropium bromide (used in some inhalers and nasal sprays) and dextromethorphan hydrobromide (used in cough syrups). Reports of bromoderma cite the pesticide methyl bromide and a brominated pool disinfectant as the sources of bromine exposure. Additional sources of bromine include flame retardants, photographic films and papers, and permanent hair-waving solutions. (1)

At the end of this article see the list of trade names for ipratropium bromide and dextromethorphan hydrobromide.


What’s the Concern?
BVO is patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant. It is also banned in over 100 countries, but it is still used in the U.S. Research shows that brominated flame retardants are building up in our bodies, and are linked to birth defects, growth problems, hearing loss, major organ system damage, early onset puberty and schizophrenia. Some individuals have reacted to drinking a beverage with BVO just once, while others don’t show reactions unless they consume larger quantities. The reality is that Bromine is a fire retardant and considered an environmental toxin; it shouldn’t be in any foods or drinks.

Many experts believe that the FDA standards for BVO based on data from 1977 are dated. Since laboratory testing technologies have advanced so rapidly, many feel that compounds such as bromine should be reexamined periodically, to verify that there aren’t any negative effects that may have been missed by prior inferior testing methods. Charles Vorhees, a toxicologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center studied BVOs in the early 1980s and believes that it is a compound that warrants further examination. (2)

In a 1970 study of serum levels of people in the U.K., where BVO was in use, the study authors wrote that “it seems highly probable that the intake of brominated vegetable oil is the cause of the tissue bromine residues in children.” (3)

Data in rats show that BVO could be toxic. A 1971 study by Canadian researchers found that rats fed a diet containing 0.5 percent brominated oils grew heavy hearts and developed lesions in their heart muscle. In a later study, in 1983, rats fed the same oils had behavioral problems, and those fed 1 percent BVO had trouble conceiving. At 2 percent, they were unable to reproduce. (2)



Binging On Drinks With BVO Causes Problems

In 1997, emergency room doctors at University of California, Davis reported a patient with severe bromine intoxication from drinking two to four liters of soda every day. He developed headaches, fatigue, ataxia (loss of muscle coordination) and memory loss which progressed over 30 days. The individual deteriorated until he was unable to walk. A diagnosis of severe bromism was eventually made. The patient required hemodialysis for his critical condition. (4)

In a 2003 a 63-year-old man from Ohio, developed ulcers on his swollen hands after drinking eight liters of Red Rudy Squirt every day for several months. The man was diagnosed with bromoderma, a rare skin hypersensitivity to bromine exposure. The patient quit drinking the brominated soft drink and within 4 months recovered. (5)


Healthier Options for Hydration
The sports drink and soda industry is big business. There are no health benefits to sodas . Sports drinks offer electrolytes, but the health risk of BVO far outweigh the benefit. I prefer to get my electrolyte boost from pure, unflavored coconut water. If you really want to hydrate your body and replace electrolytes, plain coconut water is your best bet. Tell manufacturers how you feel, by using your strongest tools, your voice and your wallet, and then choose healthier options such as:
Coconut water
Herbal teas hot or iced
Flavored waters
Herbal coffees hot or iced


Trade Names of Dextromethorphan Hydrobromide (6)
Buckleys Cough
– Liquid, oral 12.5 mg/5 mL
– Syrup, oral 20 mg/15 mL
– Syrup, oral 5 mg/5 mL
– Liquid, oral 10 mg/15 mL
– Liquid, ER, oral dextromethorphan polistirex equivalent to dextromethorphan hydrobromide 30 mg/5 mL
Diabetes CF
– Syrup, oral 10 mg/5 mL
ElixSure Cough
– Liquid, oral 7.5 mg/5 mL
Father John’s Medicine
– Syrup, oral 10 mg/5 mL
Hold DM
– Lozenges 5 mg
Little Colds Cough Formula
– Liquid, oral 7.5 mg/mL
Long-Acting Cough Suppressant
– Liquid, oral 15 mg/5 mL
Pediacare Children’s Long-Acting
– Liquid, oral 7.5 mg/5 mL
Robafen Cough
– Capsules, oral 15 mg
Robitussin Children’s Cough LA
– Syrup, oral 7.5 mg/5 mL
Robitussin Cough Gels
– Capsules, oral 15 mg
Robitussin Maximum Strength
– Syrup, oral 15 mg/5 mL
Silphen DM
– Syrup 10 mg/5 mL
Simply Cough
– Syrup, oral 5 mg/5 mL
St. Joseph Cough Suppressant
– Liquid 7.5 mg/5 mL
Sucrets DM
– Lozenges 10 mg
Sucrets DM Cough
– Lozenges 10 mg
Triaminic Long Acting Cough
– Liquid, oral 7.5 mg/5 mL
– Strip, oral 7.5 mg
– Lozenges 7.5 mg
Tussin Cough
– Capsules, oral 15 mg
– Syrup, oral 15 mg/5 mL
Vick’s DayQuil
– Liquid, oral 15 mg/15 mL
Vick’s Formula 44 Cough Relief
– Liquid, oral 30 mg/15 mL
Balminil DM (Canada)
Balminil DM Children (Canada)
Benylin DM (Canada)
Benylin DM for Children (Canada)
Koffex DM (Canada)
Robitussin Children’s (Canada)
Robitussin DM CoughGels (Canada)


Trade Names of Ipratropium Bromide (7)
Atrovent HFA
– Aerosol Each actuation delivers 17 mcg
Ipratropium Bromide
– Solution for Inhalation 0.02% (500 mcg/vial)
– Nasal Spray 0.03%. Each spray delivers 21 mcg
– Nasal Spray 0.06%. Each spray delivers 42 mcg
Apo-Ipravent (Canada)
Gen-Ipratropium (Canada)
ratio-Ipratropium (Canada)
ratio-Ipratropium UDV (Canada)










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