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newsrel -- ARB-funded study points way to improve indoor air quality in child care facilities

Posted: 25 Oct 2012 09:37:54
ARB-funded study points way to improve indoor air quality in
child care facilities. 

PIO Contact: 
Stanley Young 
916-956-9409 (cell)

A study of 40 child care facilities in California found that the
levels of most pollutants were similar to those measured in other
studies of California schools and residences and generally
considered below the levels of health concern. That included
levels of pesticides. 

A few chemicals exceeded health guideline levels, especially
formaldehyde, but there are a variety of simple steps that can
significantly lower exposure to them.  

“This first-of-its-kind study helps point to relatively simple
actions child care facilities can take to minimize exposure to
contaminants," said ARB chairman Mary D. Nichols.  "Thanks to
actions by ARB over the past four years, child-care centers can
also be assured of finding furniture and wood products that fully
comply with regulations that limit or eradicate formaldehyde in
their manufacture."

The study is notable because it is the first to provide a
detailed analysis of environmental contaminants and exposures for
children in daycare centers.  The comprehensive study of twenty
daycare centers each in Alameda and Monterey counties was carried
out by Asa Bradman and his research team from the Center for
Environmental Research and Children’s Health at UC Berkeley. 
Field work was conducted in 2010 and 2011. The measurements
included indoor air monitoring along with an analysis of floor
dust samples from each facility.

Thirty-five of the facilities had levels of formaldehyde that
exceeded California health guidelines. Furniture and building
materials made from composite wood products such as hardwood
plywood, particleboard and medium density fiberboard are
typically the primary indoor sources.  Those sources are
currently being addressed by ARB’s regulation, adopted in 2008,
which set the toughest standards in the world for the amount of
formaldehyde released from composite wood sold or used in
furniture in California. 

Because of the phasing in of the regulation and allowance for
sell-through of older products made with those composite wood
materials, some products sold since 2008 may still emit
relatively high levels of formaldehyde into indoor spaces. To
reduce exposure in future construction or when purchasing new
furnishings, however, consumers should look for furnishings and
building materials certified as “California 93120 Compliant-Phase
2”, or California certified as ULEF (ultra-low-emitting
formaldehyde) or NAF (no added formaldehyde). 

Formaldehyde is also found in many other sources in indoor
settings, including some carpets and carpet pads; paints and
coatings; permanent press clothing, furniture fabrics, and
draperies; personal care products; and indoor combustion sources
such as gas ranges and fireplaces.        

To further reduce levels of indoor formaldehyde, request and
purchase products which contain little or no formaldehyde.  The
use of ventilation systems and opening windows also helps reduce
indoor levels of formaldehyde and contaminants released from some
cleaning products.   

Particle levels were elevated in the air in some facilities, and
lead was found in floor dust, although not at levels expected to
contribute to lead poisoning.  Acetaldehyde was elevated in the
air samples of some facilities, as were some cleaning product

Additional steps that child care facilities can take to reduce
indoor air exposures are:  

•  Clean frequently to minimize dust, using a vacuum cleaner with
a HEPA filter or a wet mop for hard surface floors.  This helps
to reduce both the larger airborne particles and floor dust
contaminants such as lead and flame retardants, as well as
allergy and asthma triggers such as pollen and dust mite

•  Clean out cabinets and garages to eliminate older pesticides,
solvents and cleaning products that may leak, in order to help
reduce indoor levels of pesticides and harmful chemicals. 

•  Assure adequate ventilation to bring in outdoor air.

For more information on ARB’s regulation on composite wood and
formaldehyde, please visit: 


For a detailed factsheet on this study and additional steps
child-care centers can take, please visit: 


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