Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Office workers carry biomarker of potentially harmful flame retardant, study finds

Date:
March 25, 2013
Source:
Boston University Medical Center
Summary:
A flame retardant removed from children's pajamas 30 years ago but now used in polyurethane foam is prevalent in office environments, especially in older buildings, where urine testing of workers turned up widespread evidence of its biomarker, a new study has found.

A flame retardant removed from children's pajamas 30 years ago but now used in polyurethane foam is prevalent in office environments, especially in older buildings, where urine testing of workers turned up widespread evidence of its biomarker, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health researchers has found.

The study, published in the journal Environment International, found that the chemical known as TDCPP -- chlorinated tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, or 'chlorinated tris' -- was present in 99 percent of dust samples taken from participants' homes, vehicles and offices, "demonstrating the widespread presence of this flame retardant in the indoor environment." The research team recruited 31 adults who worked and lived in the Boston area for the testing.

The study found that the office environment was the strongest predictor of metabolized TDCPP in urine, with significantly lower concentrations of the chemical among workers in a new office building than in older buildings. Similarly, the average concentration of TDCPP in dust was significantly lower in the new office building than in the older office buildings.

Urine samples were collected during the workday, which may explain why an association was found between the quickly metabolized chemical and characteristics of the office, rather than the vehicle or home.

"Overall, our findings suggest that exposure to TDCPP in the work environment is one of the contributors to the personal exposure for office workers. Further research is needed to confirm specific exposure sources (e.g., polyurethane foam), determine the importance of exposure in other microenvironments such as homes and vehicles, and address the inhalation and dermal exposure pathways," the research team concluded.

TDCPP, an additive to polyurethane foam used in upholstered furniture, is found in dust, where it can likely lead to human exposure. Potential health effects remain a concern. In 2011, TDCPP was added to the Proposition 65 list of chemicals known by the State of California to cause cancer.

In vitro studies suggest TDCPP may be neurotoxic, and one study found that increased concentrations in dust were associated with decreased semen quality and reduced free thyroxine in men, suggesting possible effects on fertility and thyroid function. Animal studies show TDCPP is readily absorbed through both the skin and gastrointestinal tract.

The researchers said the high concentrations observed in dust from offices could reflect requirements by the City of Boston that office furniture meet California fire retardant standards, a rule that is not required of residential furniture in Boston. The state of California has proposed a draft furniture flammability standard that could reduce the need for flame retardant chemicals in polyurethane foam. However, the standard used for office furniture has yet to be revised.

"It is currently very difficult to avoid flame retardants. Hopefully, better options will become available in the near future," said Courtney Carignan, a doctoral candidate in environmental health who co-authored the study. "Currently, the best advice we have for people is to wash your hands, especially before eating. Dust control, good ventilation and air purifiers may also be useful for reducing personal exposure."

The low concentrations of TDCPP in the newer office building suggest that its newer furniture did not contain TDCPP, or that it had not yet had sufficient time to migrate out of the products, the researchers said. If the new furniture did not contain TDCPP, it likely contained a different flame retardant such as the controversial FireMaster 550. Other differences between exposures include the possibility of more efficient ventilation or HVAC systems or cleaning methods in the newer building.

The authors urged that "more research is needed to determine factors that influence TDCPP concentrations in dust, in relation to building contents and characteristics."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Courtney C. Carignan, Michael D. McClean, Ellen M. Cooper, Deborah J. Watkins, Alicia J. Fraser, Wendy Heiger-Bernays, Heather M. Stapleton, Thomas F. Webster. Predictors of tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate metabolite in the urine of office workers. Environment International, 2013; 55: 56 DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2013.02.004

Cite This Page:

Boston University Medical Center. "Office workers carry biomarker of potentially harmful flame retardant, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325135401.htm>.
Boston University Medical Center. (2013, March 25). Office workers carry biomarker of potentially harmful flame retardant, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325135401.htm
Boston University Medical Center. "Office workers carry biomarker of potentially harmful flame retardant, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325135401.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins