You will probably never think that an object as innocent as a couch could pose a risk to you or your family, but a new study from Duke University raises this possibility. The research is focused on children in homes with furniture containing specific compounds, and the results are a bit disturbing.
The research, presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Washington, found that potentially harmful compounds are found in high concentrations in the blood of children living in homes. houses with certain types of furniture and flooring.
The team tested blood samples from children living at home with furniture treated with polybrominated diphenyl ethers, a flame retardant compound added to the foam cushions of sofas and chairs. Scientists note that the compound has been linked to a variety of diseases and conditions, including cancer and delayed brain development.
Tests have shown that blood levels of this compound are six times higher in children living in households with treated furniture compared to other children without furniture of this type. A similar but even more dramatic result was found when the team tested the metabolite of benzyl butyl phthalate, which is found in vinyl flooring.
The substance was found at concentrations 15 times higher in children who live in homes with vinyl flooring than in those who do not. Benzyl butyl phthalate is associated with rashes, breathing problems and even reproductive disorders.
These semi-volatile organic compounds surround us and it would be almost impossible to eliminate them completely. Researchers can not really say at this point how many exposures represent a serious risk and if we need to worry about it.
"SVOCs are widely used in electronics, furniture and building materials and can be detected in almost any indoor environment," said Heather Stapleton, lead author of the research, in a statement. "Human exposure to these substances is widespread, especially among young children who spend most of their time indoors and are more exposed to the chemicals found in household dust."
Tracking products and household items that contribute the most to the levels of various potentially harmful compounds in our blood could help in the long run. This is another reminder that we often do not even realize what we add to our body simply by following our daily routine.