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Babies' bedrooms can be bad for their health

A European study on indoor air quality says newly decorated infants bedrooms can pose significant threats to health
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks
childs bedroom

9th March 2010 - Babies and young children are being exposed to high doses of carcinogenic chemicals in their own bedrooms according to a Europe-wide study on the air quality inside our homes; and it seems newly decorated rooms may be the worst offenders.

The study was carried out by Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) and measured the levels of formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) and indoor pollutants known as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in children’s bedrooms which had been newly renovated.

Test your nest

Last year WECF provided a ‘Test Your Nest’ kit to parents in Greece, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and the UK. The seventy participants were pregnant/partners of pregnant women or were parents of young children under the age of three who intended to have, or had had, renovations in the previous months on floors or walls or had installed new furniture in baby’s bed room.

Air samplers were placed in the baby‘s room for a period of seven days and were then sent to a certified laboratory. The findings were reviewed by the French national consumer protection institute (ICN) and the results published in its monthly magazine.

Alarming results

In 40% of the results the WECF said values found for both formaldehyde and VOCs were above accepted levels for the French safety and environmental agency AFSSET and the EU scientists’ network ECA (European Collaborative Action on indoor air quality).

WECF says formaldehyde is emitted from veneered wooden furniture while volatile organic compounds can come from paints, varnishes, cleaning products, wood preservatives, glues, laminated wood and deodorisers. It says they can irritate eyes, nose and throat, trigger allergies and cause digestive problems.

The results showed that indoor air quality was better in homes where parents were informed about the necessity of ventilating the room.

Baby’s bedrooms not as safe as we think

Sascha Gabizon, Executive Director of WECF said in a news release, "Although we only targeted a small group of parents, the results clearly show that baby‘s bedrooms are not as safe as we think. Newborns and infants in participating countries are exposed to indoor air pollution, which can be very harmful for their development.

“The result is worrying for infants, especially when you realise that young children spend about 90 percent of the time indoors. And pollutants such as formaldehyde and VOCs are often not recognisable and results show more and more that volatile organic compounds emitted during renovation and decoration of the nursery are responsible for allergies and eczema becoming more frequent.”

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