ARB Research Seminar

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Environmental Exposures in Early Childhood Education Environments

Photo of Asa Bradman, Ph.D.

Asa Bradman, Ph.D., Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

October 24, 2012
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA

Press Release
Fact Sheet
Research Project


In this presentation, Dr. Bradman will share the results of his study, which examined environmental characteristics and contaminant levels in air and dust in 40 California early childhood education (ECE) facilities. This study is the first to provide a detailed analysis of environmental contaminants and exposures for children in daycare centers.

In the daycare centers that were examined, over 40 airborne volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were detected. In most facilities, levels of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, chloroform, benzene, or ethylbenzene exceeded child-specific Safe Harbor Levels, as computed by the report authors based on Proposition 65 guidelines for carcinogens. Formaldehyde levels exceeded California health guidelines in 87.5% of the facilities and acetaldehyde concentrations were lower than the California health guidelines, but still exceeded the U.S. EPA Reference Concentration in 30% of the facilities. When chemical groups were compared, the two VOCs having the highest concentration in the facilities were those commonly found in cleaning and personal care products. However, for these and most other VOCs, health-based dose or exposure benchmarks are not available. Phthalates, flame retardants, pesticides, perfluorinated compounds, and lead were also frequently detected in dust and/or air, and Dr. Bradman will discuss child dose estimates from the ingestion of dust containing these substances. Additionally, the investigators examined exposure to particulate matter and estimated that the PM10 concentration exceeded the level of the 24-hour California Ambient Air Quality Standard (CAAQS) in 46% of the ECE facilities.

Overall, the findings suggest that ECE environments are similar to other indoor environments such as schools and residences, but also demonstrate the importance of taking further steps to reduce levels of formaldehyde and some other VOCs in indoor environments. Dr. Bradman will discuss mitigation strategies, which may be warranted to reduce exposures to these VOCs.

Speaker Biography

Asa Bradman, Ph.D., is an environmental health scientist and international expert in exposure assessment and epidemiology focusing on pregnant women and children's exposures to toxic substances. Dr. Bradman has worked for many years with the California Department of Public Health and then co-founded the Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health (CERCH) in the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Dr. Bradman has extensive experience supervising exposure, biomonitoring, and epidemiological studies examining pesticides, flame retardants, VOCs and other contaminants. Dr. Bradman has participated on several advisory bodies at local, state, and national levels and was appointed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California Biomonitoring Scientific Guidance Panel.

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