Volatile-organic-compounds

Volatile-organic-compounds

Children who sleep in bedrooms containing fumes from water-based paints and solvents are two to four times more likely to suffer allergies or asthma, according to a new scientific study

Children who sleep in bedrooms containing fumes from water-based paints and solvents are two to four times more likely to suffer allergies or asthma, according to a new scientific study.

Scientists measured the compounds – propylene glycol and glycol ethers, known as PGEs – in the bedroom air of 400 toddlers and preschoolers, and discovered that the children who breathed them had substantially higher rates of asthma, stuffy noses and eczema.

It is the first human study to link harmful effects of these chemicals to common exposures in households, and it suggests that they might exacerbate or even cause allergic disorders and asthma, according to the team of scientists from Harvard University and Sweden’s Kalstad University.

“Apparent risks of PGEs at such low concentrations at home raise concerns for the vulnerability of infants and young children,” according to the report, published Monday in the journal of the Public Library of Science, PLoS ONE.

The aim of the study was to investigate the health effects of chemicals called volatile organic compounds that are widely used inside homes. The result: Of the hundreds of compounds tested in eight different categories, only one group — the PGEs – was associated with the children’s allergies and asthma.

That discovery is particularly surprising, since PGEs are widely used in water-based paints and varnishes, as well as in cleaning fluids such as glass cleaners. They are considered healthier substitutes because they have low volatility, which means they emit less fumes than the high-polluting, oil-based paints and solvents.

For several decades, scientists have tried to unravel why allergies and asthma have skyrocketed among children throughout the developed world since the 1970s.

Experts suspect that exposure to some environmental factors in the womb or early in life might trigger the disorders. The findings of the new study add to the many theories that have evolved, including ones about other indoor air pollutants, diesel exhaust, viruses and cockroach allergens.

Michael Laiosa, an assistant professor at the School of Public Health at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, who studies children’s allergies and immune disorders, called it “a very interesting article and well-conducted study.’’

If these findings are confirmed by other studies, “it may be another piece of the puzzle as to why atopic diseases like allergy and asthma are on the rise, particularly in kids,” said isa, who was not involved in the research.
“It also is concerning given how ubiquitous these compounds are, particularly at low levels like those found in this study,” he said.

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