PFAS in Carpets a Major Exposure Source for Children: Study
Children can be exposed to PFAS from carpets, according to an April 2020 study published in the journal Chemosphere .
For the study, researchers measured PFAS concentrations in carpet and dust samples collected from 18 childcare centers in California. The findings indicated that both the carpet and dust contained significant levels of dozens of different PFAS, with carpets appearing to be both a source of and a sink for the toxic substances.
The researchers found that the PFAS intake via dust ingestion for the children was between 0.023 and 1.9 ng/kg body weight/day. To put these findings into perspective, the minimal risk levels reported by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) for PFAS are less than 2 ng/kg body weight/day, and dust ingestion is only one route of exposure. This means PFAS in carpets can contribute to health effects in children who come in contact with it.
PFAS are linked with serious health harms in both children and adults, including impaired neurodevelopment, immune system dysfunction, hormone disruption, and cancer.
“From circle time to nap time, young schoolchildren spend a lot of time on the floor,” said Marta Venier, an Associate Scientist at Indiana University and co-author of the study. “Harmful PFAS in carpets and dust then collect on kids’ hands and toys, which they put in their mouths. This is also true in homes, where infants and toddlers crawl and play on carpets.”
Venier said the good news is that daycares, schools, and families can significantly reduce PFAS exposure by replacing older carpets. Most carpet manufacturers have discontinued use of PFAS, which were formerly used in the manufacture of carpets to make them stain- and soil-resistant. Retailers like The Home Depot and Lowe’s currently only sell carpets that are PFAS-free.
“Our study shows that the recent retailer phase-outs of PFAS in carpets are good news for children’s health,” said co-author Tom Bruton. “With PFAS-free carpets more available, schools and families can replace older carpets and protect children’s health from exposure to these dangerous and long-lasting chemicals.”
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