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Environ Health Perspect. 2009 Jan;117(1):133-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.11927. Epub 2008 Oct 10.

Household exposure to paint and petroleum solvents, chromosomal translocations, and the risk of childhood leukemia.

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School of Public Health, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94704-7380, USA.



Few studies have examined the association between home use of solvents and paint and the risk of childhood leukemia.


In this case-control study, we examined whether the use of paint and petroleum solvents at home before birth and in early childhood influenced the risk of leukemia in children.


We based our analyses on 550 cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), 100 cases of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and one or two controls per case individually matched for sex, age, Hispanic status, and race. We conducted further analyses by cytogenetic subtype. We used conditional logistic regression techniques to adjust for income.


ALL risk was significantly associated with paint exposure [odds ratio (OR) = 1.65; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.26-2.15], with a higher risk observed when paint was used postnatally, by a person other than the mother, or frequently. The association was restricted to leukemia with translocations between chromosomes 12 and 21 (OR = 4.16; 95% CI, 1.66-10.4). We found no significant association between solvent use and ALL risk overall (OR = 1.15; 95% CI, 0.87-1.51) or for various cytogenetic subtypes, but we observed a significant association in the 2.0- to 5.9-year age group (OR = 1.55; 95% CI, 1.07-2.25). In contrast, a significant increased risk for AML was associated with solvent (OR = 2.54; 95% CI, 1.19-5.42) but not with paint exposure (OR = 0.64; 95% CI, 0.32-1.25).


The association of ALL risk with paint exposure was strong, consistent with a causal relationship, but further studies are needed to confirm the association of ALL and AML risk with solvent exposure.


case-control study; children; leukemia; paint; petroleum; solvents

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