Children living in homes that have toxic chemicals on the floors and furniture are exposed to higher concentrations of harmful semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) in their blood or urine than those without these materials, finds a new study. SVOCs, which are a subgroup within the volatile organic compounds (VOCs), have been associated with various diseases in children.
VOCs are a type of indoor air pollutants. The study found that children from homes with vinyl flooring had benzyl butyl phthalate metabolite concentrations in urine that were 15 times higher than those in children living with no vinyl flooring. Further, children living in homes where the sofa 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 to neurodevelopmental delays, obesity, endocrine and thyroid disruption, cancer and other diseases, according to the study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the US. Furthermore, benzyl butyl phthalate has been linked to respiratory disorders, skin irritations, multiple myeloma 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 from Duke University in the US. “Human exposure to them is widespread, particularly among young children who spend most of their time indoors and have greater exposure to chemicals found in household dust,” said Stapleton. For the study, the researchers conducted in-home exposures to SVOCs among 203 children from 190 families.