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Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Jul 1;48(13):7593-601. doi: 10.1021/es501189t. Epub 2014 Jun 12.

Phthalate exposure and risk assessment in California child care facilities.

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School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley , Berkeley, California 94720, United States.


Approximately 13 million U.S. children less than 6 years old spend some time in early childhood education (ECE) facilities where they may be exposed to potentially harmful chemicals during critical periods of development. We measured five phthalate esters in indoor dust (n = 39) and indoor and outdoor air (n = 40 and 14, respectively) at ECE facilities in Northern California. Dust and airborne concentrations were used to perform a probabilistic health risk assessment to compare estimated exposures with risk levels established for chemicals causing reproductive toxicity and cancer under California's Proposition 65. Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP) were the dominant phthalates present in floor dust (medians = 172.2 and 46.8 μg/g, respectively), and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), and diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP) were the dominant phthalates in indoor air (medians = 0.52, 0.21, and 0.10 μg/m(3), respectively). The risk assessment results indicate that 82-89% of children in California ECE had DBP exposure estimates exceeding reproductive health benchmarks. Further, 8-11% of children less than 2 years old had DEHP exposure estimates exceeding cancer benchmarks. This is the largest study to measure phthalate exposure in U.S. ECE facilities and findings indicate wide phthalate contamination and potential risk to developing children.

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