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Your vinyl floor or sofa may be exposing your child to potentially harmful chemicals, study says

Posted at 1:10 PM, Mar 27, 2019

MILWAUKEE — Kids who lives in homes with some common furnishings may have higher concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals in their blood or urine when compared to other children, according to a recent Duke University study.

The study found that kids who live in homes with sofas that have flame-retardant foam inside have concentrations of chemicals known as PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, in their blood six times higher than those living without one.

And if they live in a house with vinyl flooring, they have a concentration of another chemical, benzyl butyl phthalate metabolite, that is fifteen times higher in their urine 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, such as 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."

WTMJ took the Duke study to Michael Laiosa, an assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-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.

mother and young daughter in kitchen smiling for photo

“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.