-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Levels of formaldehyde and
several other contaminants in some California day care centers
exceed state health guidelines, according to a new study.
Formaldehyde, a known respiratory irritant and a listed
cancer-causing agent in California, is commonly found in the glues
used in pressboard furniture and laminated wood. It is also found
in paint products, clothing, cosmetics and combustion sources such
as gas and wood-burning stoves.
Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley,
collected air and floor dust samples to assess levels of
environmental contaminants and exposures at 40 day care centers in
Alameda and Monterey counties.
"Children are more vulnerable to the health effects of environmental contaminants, and many small children spend as much as 10 hours a day, five days a week, in child care centers," study lead author Asa Bradman, associate director of the UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health, said in a university news release.
"We wanted to establish the baseline levels of environmental exposures in these early child care settings, and to provide information that could be used for any necessary policy changes," she explained.
They found that almost 88 percent of facilities had formaldehyde
levels higher than 9 micrograms per cubic meter over eight hours,
which is above the state's guideline for safe exposure.
The researchers also found that cleaning- and sanitizing-related
chemicals were present in the air at the day care centers,
sometimes at higher levels than those found in homes. Formaldehyde
can form when these chemicals react with ozone and other compounds
in the air.
Other chemicals of concern detected by the researchers included
phthalates (found in plastics), flame retardants, pesticides and
perfluorinated compounds (found in Teflon and stain-resistant
The study was funded by the California Air Resources Board, and
released Oct. 25.
Considering many children have asthma, it would make sense to
choose safer cleaning products with less volatile chemicals,
according to the news release. Ensuring proper ventilation can help
reduce levels of formaldehyde and other contaminants in day care
centers, the researchers said.
The American Lung Association has more about
indoor air quality.
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