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Vinyl floors expose children to toxic phthalates

Friday, November 01, 2013 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
Tags: vinyl floors, children''s exposure, toxic phthalates

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(NaturalNews) The thyroid and its hormone function are under constant attack from plasticizers called phthalates. Phthalates are manufactured to make plastics more flexible and harder to break; however, these plasticizers do the opposite in the human body, slowing it down and throwing it off balance. In the body, phthalates break down into metabolites and decrease hormone levels in the thyroid. This is a serious problem, especially in children, whose bodies depend on healthy thyroid hormone levels for growth, energy, reproduction and development.

Michigan study finds that phthalate DEHP lowers certain thyroid hormone levels

A vast study on human phthalate urine levels and corresponding thyroid hormone levels was conducted by the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Using publicly available data from a U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, researchers studied urine phthalate metabolites and corresponding serum thyroid hormone levels from 1,346 adults and 329 adolescents.

An inverse relationship was found. As phthalate levels increased, serum levels of certain thyroid hormone levels decreased. Urine samples in the highest 20 percent of phthalate exposure were associated with a 10 percent reduction in certain thyroid hormones in the patients. The phthalate studied in the patients' urine was DEHP, or di(2-ethylhexyl), which is usually consumed through a person's diet, including food packaging, water bottles and body care products.

Dietary measures not the only source of phthalate poisoning; children affected the most

In a new public release from the American Chemical Society, dietary measures may not be the only dangerous source of phthalates. Vinyl flooring, as used in many schools and daycares, is exposing children to a vast amount of phthalates, according to results published in the ACS journal, Environmental Science and Technology.

The lead researcher, Chungsik Yoon, pointed out that polyvinyl chloride floors are the second highest threat for containing phthalates, when considering volume. Phthalates are manufactured in vinyl flooring for much of the same reasons as bottles - flexibility and strength. But these plasticizers have the opposite effect in the body, bringing slowness and fragility instead, as hormone levels are wracked.

How these phthalates get into the body is no secret. They leech out of the products straight into water, food and air. The whole poisoning is practically invisible to the naked eye, as phthalates leach out and spread as "dust." It's well known that toys, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, medical devices and even soaps are capable of spreading leached phthalate dust on and into the body. An indoor environment can trap these dust particles in, as people breathe the hormone disruptors. An indoor environment full of vinyl flooring is a breeding ground for phthalate dust. In a school environment, that dust can be stirred up as more people come and go across the floor. This is putting children massively at risk for exposure, leading to low hormone levels, as their development is thwarted.

Scientists confirm high phthalate DEHP levels coming from vinyl floors in day cares and kindergartens

To further study the silent damage taking place where children play and learn, a major scientific investigation was held in Seoul, South Korea, recently at 50 various public and private day cares and kindergartens. To test for PVC levels in the floor, the team used an X-ray fluorescence analyzer, which verified high levels of the dangerous and most common phthalate, DEHP.

After confirming that DEHP was pervasive in all the vinyl flooring, the researchers then collected dust samples in various spots throughout the buildings. The dust levels contained the same DEHP, directly correlated with samples taken from the vinyl flooring.

The scientists stated in conclusion, "This is the first study to verify the sources of phthalates with an XRF analyzer and to evaluate the relationship between phthalate concentrations and PVC-verified materials."

What is thought to be just a dietary threat (phthalates) is now being investigated more closely as a possible indoor pollutant that is passed through the air from vinyl flooring. This is deeply concerning, especially noting that children's reproductive health, growth and energy levels are at risk.

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