Toxins from home flooring, furniture may put kids at cancer risk

Toxins from home flooring, furniture may put kids at cancer risk
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Children living in homes with all vinyl flooring or flameretardant chemicals in the sofa have significantly higher levels of potentially harmful toxins in their blood or urine, putting them at risk of cancer and other diseases, study has found

Washington: Children living in homes with all vinyl flooring or flame-retardant chemicals in the sofa have significantly higher levels of potentially harmful toxins in their blood or urine, putting them at risk of cancer and other diseases, study has found.

Researchers from Duke University in the US 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 six-fold higher concentration of PBDEs in their blood serum. Exposure to PBDEs has been linked in laboratory tests to neurodevelopmental delays, obesity, endocrine and thyroid disruption, cancer and other diseases. According to the study published in the journal 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 with no vinyl flooring.

Benzyl butyl phthalate has been linked to respiratory disorders, skin irritations, multiple myeolma and reproductive disorders. "SVOCs are widely used in electronics, furniture and building materials and can be detected in nearly all indoor environments," said Heather Stapleton, an environmental chemist at Duke, who led the research. "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," said Stapleton. Researchers began a three-year study of in-home exposures to semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs) among 203 children from 190 families.

"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," Stapleton said. To that end, the team analysed samples of indoor air, indoor dust and foam collected from furniture in each of the children's homes, along with a handwipe sample, urine and blood from each child. "We quantified 44 biomarkers of exposure to phthalates, organophosphate esters, brominated flame retardants, parabens, phenols, antibacterial agents and perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)," Stapleton said.

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