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Socioeconomics may affect toddlers' exposure to flame retardants
Date:5/22/2012

amples and in 98 percent of the hand-wipe samples. Older children had higher average total body burdens of the contaminants, the study found, with average levels increasing by an estimated 60 percent to 70 percent for each year of age. This may reflect the combined effect of PBDE accumulation in the body over time and the toddlers' increased hand-to-mouth activity.

Duration of breastfeeding also was associated with exposure. Blood samples contained significant levels of one PBDE component that has a long half-life in the body and is strongly correlated to the amount of time a mother spends breastfeeding. "This could be coming from PBDE exposures the mother had up to two-and-a-half years ago," Stapleton said.

Further research is needed to explain why white toddlers in the study averaged 32 parts per billion of PBDE chemicals in their blood serum, while nonwhite toddlers averaged 60 parts per billion, she noted.

"Race and socioeconomic status were closely associated in our test group, so it's hard to disentangle them," Stapleton said, "but it's important to note that we found no significant differences in PBDE concentrations in house dust samples by race or parental education. This suggests the exposure difference is not driven solely by higher levels of PBDE in dust from lower socioeconomic homes."

One of the most promising findings of the study, Stapleton said, is that hand-wipe samples turned out to be good predictors of total exposures.

"Using hand-wipes, we were able to predict almost half of the toddlers' total exposure levels," she said. "This suggests in the future, we could use hand-wipes to characterize a child's exposure and predict levels of PBDEs in the blood, which would be much easier than having to draw blood."

Parents or caregivers may be able to reduce toddlers' potential exposures through more frequent hand-washing and by researching, as best they can, which flame retardants are use
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Contact: Tim Lucas
tdlucas@duke.edu
919-613-8084
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

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