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Children carry evidence of chemicals from common home furnishings

Posted at 6:10 AM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 17:33:44-04

A recent Duke University study found kids in homes where a sofa had flame retardant foam inside have concentrations of a chemical (PBDEs) in their blood six times higher than those living without one.

If they had a house with vinyl flooring, researchers found another chemical, benzyl butyl phthalate metabolite, in their urine fifteen times higher than kids without vinyl flooring.

Melissa Ehlke, a mother of a toddler, has vinyl flooring in her bathroom. She had no clue chemical compounds found in those common home furnishings have been tested in laboratories and have been linked to health problems in children like developmental delays, obesity and cancer.

“Everything is concerning to me as a mom,” Ehlke said. “I have no idea if that flooring is 30 years old or 50 years old, or what's in it and I can't stop her from walking on the floors. We're certainly not going to be able to avoid it."

TODAY’S TMJ4 took the Duke study to Michael Laiosa, an assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences at UW-Milwaukee.

“I think it's certainly cause for concern,” Laiosa said. "I think that there are ways that families can protect themselves a little bit."

Laiosa says cleaning your house is one way to reduce the health risk to your children.

“When you're doing that, you would want to make sure that your vacuum has a filtered bag so that when your sucking up the dust particles that have these contaminants in them you're not re-releasing them into your air in your house,” he said.

He points out consumer pressure can go a long way. Major retailers like Home Depot and Menards started phasing out the use of phthalates in vinyl flooring several years ago.

Click here to see the study.