New research finds some wood floor finishes are a likely source of PCB exposure

Research Area: 

A Silent Spring Institute case study published on 17 January 2008 in the online open access journal Environmental Health suggests that old wood floor finishes in some homes may be an overlooked source of exposure to the now banned environmental pollutants polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Background information on Silent Spring Institute's Household Exposure Study

Because people spend a lot of their time at home, household environments are an important source of chemical exposures. The many chemicals in building materials and household products coupled with limited ventilation and slow chemical degradation indoors (away from sun, water, and temperature extremes) mean that indoor chemical concentrations are higher than levels outdoors. Despite their potential as an important source of exposure, we know very little about indoor contaminants. To begin to understand the role these contaminants may have for research on breast cancer, Silent Spring Institute scientists are investigating women's household exposure to a broad suite of organic chemicals, identified as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) or mammary carcinogens that are important for breast cancer research.

The chemicals targeted for analysis included phthalates, alkylphenols, pesticides, parabens, polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and other estrogenic phenols such as bisphenol A. These chemicals are found in commercial products or building materials. Researchers collected samples of household air and dust and studied participants' urine samples from 120 homes in the Cape Cod Breast Cancer and Environment Study. We also collected detailed information about each woman's home and her use of products containing target chemicals. We also studied activities related to exposure, including wide-area pesticide exposure estimates using GIS.