FRIDAY, May 25, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Phthalates in PVC flooring materials can be absorbed by children's bodies, a new study shows.
These chemicals -- which are suspected to cause asthma, allergies and other chronic diseases in children -- can be ingested with food, by breathing and through the skin, according to the researchers at Karlstad University in Sweden.
Phthalates are softening agents found in construction materials and in many consumer products, including toys, cleaning solvents and packaging. PVC flooring contains phthalates, and research has shown that flooring is a significant source of indoor dust in homes.
In this study, researchers analyzed urine samples from 83 children, aged 2 months to 6 months, and found that levels of certain phthalates (MBzP, which is related to BBzP) were higher in babies that had PVC flooring in their bedrooms.
The researchers also found that levels of another phthalate related to DEHP were lower in 2-month-old children if they were exclusively breast-fed, with no supplements.
DEHP and BBzP are banned for use in toys for small children due to health risks.
"With this study as a basis, we can establish that there are other sources that should be taken into consideration in regard to the uptake of banned chemicals," study leader Carl-Gustaf Bornehag, a professor of public health at Karlstad University, said in a Swedish Research Council news release.
The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has more about phthalates.