After collecting air and floor dusts samples from 40 child care centers, UC Berkeley researchers found toxic chemicals used to prevent clothes and furniture from catching fire in 100% of the samples collected.
According to Asa Brandman, the associate director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health and author of this study, “Child care environments are not unlike homes and other places where kids spend time, but there has been very little research done on these environments.”
However, the chemicals found in the dust samples such as, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and tris phosphate compounds (a non-PBDE flame retardant) have been linked to hormone disruption and lower IQ’s in children.
Flame retardant chemicals were added into foam in upholstered furniture in the 1970’s to meet a state flammability standard.
Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown, governor of California, ordered the rules changed so that the flammability standards can be met without the use of chemicals.
Where Were PBDEs Found?
Although PBDEs have been banned in California for almost a decade the chemical is still present in older furniture and other products.
PBDEs were removed from children pajamas in 1977 after it was found to mutate the DNA of people who were exposed, California now lists the chemical as a carcinogen.
Since the ban many manufacturers replaced PBDEs with a chlorinated tris (another flame retardant).
According to the UC Berkeley study, PBDEs found in child care homes and centers seemed to be lower than the amount found in previous studies.
However, the amounts of chlorinated tris were similar or higher than household levels found in other reports.
The study suggests that the higher tris levels were linked to the mats children nap on as well as furniture. Of all the centers surveyed 29 had upholstered furniture and 17 had napping equipment made of foam.