Formaldehyde Commonly Found in Child Care Centers: Report

The findings of a new study suggest that children may face a risk of exposure to dangerous levels of formaldehyde at day care centers. 

Researchers at the University of California Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health issued a press release last week, highlighting the findings of a recent study that took air and floor dust samples in 40 child care facilities in California.

The study found that 87.5 percent of the facilities surveyed had levels of formaldehyde exposure that exceeded 9 micrograms per cubic meter over an eight hour period, which exceeds what California health experts consider safe levels.

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Formaldehyde, a preservative, is considered a probably carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is also a respiratory irritant and is commonly used in wood products, paint, clothing and can be generated by combustion sources like wood or gas-burning stoves.

Formaldehyde is sometimes formed when certain cleaning agents interact with other compounds in the air. Some researchers said this appears to have been a factor in some of the homes investigated.

“Children are more vulnerable to the health effects of environmental contaminants, and many small children spend as much as 10 hours per day, five days a week, in child care centers,” said sAsa Bradman, at the study’s lead author. “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.”

The study comes a couple months after Johnson & Johnson agreed to remove chemicals that caused the formation of formaldehyde in its baby shampoo. The announcement came following parent and consumer watchdog complaints.


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