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PVC flooring is related to human uptake of phthalates in infants


F. Carlstedt
Primary Care Research Unit County Council of Värmland Universitetsgatan 3, S-656 37 Karlstad Sweden
Tel.: +46 70 2599489
Fax: +46 54 616954


Abstract  Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) flooring material contains phthalates, and it has been shown that such materials are important sources for phthalates in indoor dust. Phthalates are suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Consecutive infants between 2 and 6 months old and their mothers were invited. A questionnaire about indoor environmental factors and family lifestyle was used. Urinary metabolites of the phthalates diethyl phthalate (DEP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP), and dietylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) were measured in the urine of the children. Of 209 invited children, 110 (52%) participated. Urine samples were obtained from 83 of these. Urine levels of the BBzP metabolite monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP) was significantly higher in infants with PVC flooring in their bedrooms (P < 0.007) and related to the body area of the infant. Levels of the DEHP metabolites MEHHP (P < 0.01) and MEOHP (P < 0.04) were higher in the 2-month-old infants who were not exclusively breast-fed when compared with breast-fed children. The findings indicate that the use of soft PVC as flooring material may increase the human uptake of phthalates in infants. Urinary levels of phthalate metabolites during early life are associated with the use of PVC flooring in the bedroom, body area, and the use of infant formula.

Practical Implications

This study shows that the uptake of phthalates is not only related to oral uptake from, for example, food but also to environmental factors such as building materials. This new information should be considered when designing indoor environment, especially for children.