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Toxins in Home Furnishings Can Be Passed on to Kids

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Feb 21st 2019

new article illustration

THURSDAY, Feb. 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Children who live in homes with vinyl flooring and flame-retardant furniture have higher levels of potentially harmful chemicals in their blood or urine, researchers have found.

The new study included 203 children from 190 families who were tested for these chemicals -- so-called semi-volatile organic compounds (or SVOCs) -- in their blood or urine.

For the study, the researchers analyzed samples of indoor air, indoor dust and foam collected from furniture in each of the children's homes, along with a hand-wipe sample, urine and blood from each child.

"Our primary goal was to investigate links between specific products and children's exposures, and to determine how the exposure happened -- was it through breathing, skin contact or inadvertent dust inhalation," said study leader Heather Stapleton. She is an environmental chemist at Duke University's School of the Environment.

"SVOCs are widely used in electronics, furniture and building materials, and can be detected in nearly all indoor environments," Stapleton explained in a university news release.

"Human exposure to them is widespread, particularly for young children who spend most of their time indoors and have greater exposure to chemicals found in household dust," she added.

"Nonetheless, there has been little research on the relative contribution of specific products and materials to children's overall exposure to SVOCs," Stapleton said.

The investigators found that children living in homes where the sofa in the main living area contained flame-retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in its foam had a sixfold higher concentration of PBDEs in their blood.

Exposure to PBDEs has been linked in laboratory tests to neurodevelopmental delays, obesity, endocrine and thyroid disruption, cancer and other diseases, the study authors said.

Children from homes that had vinyl flooring in all areas were found to have concentrations of benzyl butyl phthalate metabolite in their urine that were 15 times higher than those in children living in homes with no vinyl flooring.

Benzyl butyl phthalate (a plasticizer often used for floor tiles) has been linked to respiratory disorders, skin irritations, multiple myeloma and reproductive disorders, the researchers noted.

The study was presented Feb. 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Lung Association has more on indoor air pollutants and health.