16 May 2014

Hazardous chemicals in child care centres

Child care centres with foam-containing furniture had much higher levels of hazardous flame-retardant chemicals than other centres.


Hazardous flame retardants are found indoors at US child care centres, which means children at those facilities could be exposed to the chemicals, a new study reveals.

Researchers analysed dust samples collected from 40 child care centres in urban, rural and agricultural areas of Monterey and Alameda counties in California. Flame-retardant chemicals were found in all the dust samples.

While flame retardants were detected in all of the dust samples, levels of the chemicals were generally low in air samples collected from the child care centres, the study authors noted in the report published online in the journal Chemosphere.

Widespread in indoor environments

Of the 40 day care centres included in the study, 29 had furniture with foam and 17 had napping gear made out of foam. The centres with foam items had much higher levels of flame-retardant chemicals than those without foam, the investigators found.

"These findings underscore how widespread these materials are in indoor environments," lead author Asa Bradman, associate director of the Centre for Children's Environmental Health Research at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a university news release.

"A growing body of research has found links between flame retardants and a range of human health effects, including neurodevelopmental delays in children. Children are more vulnerable to the health effects of environmental contaminants, so we should be particularly careful to reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals," Bradman added.

The researchers noted that many infants and young children spend up to 50 hours a week in day care centers. However, they pointed out in the news release, this study is the first systematic review of flame retardants in such facilities.

Image: Fire extinguisher from Shutterstock

Read more:

Flame-retardant chemicals toxic to kids
Flame retardants concerns scientists

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