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Project Details

Environmental Exposures in Early Childhood Education Environments

Project Summary: 

Young children spend up to 90% of their time indoors, mostly at home. However, many infants and young children spend as much as 10 hours per day, 5 days per week, in child care and preschool centers. By the time they enter kindergarten, over 50% of all California children have attended some type of licensed child care facility.

Recent studies indicate that early childhood education (ECE) environments may contain lead, pesticides, allergens, and other contaminants hazardous to children’s health. Because children exhibit exploratory behaviors that place them in direct contact with contaminated surfaces, they are likely to be exposed to any contaminants present. Children have higher exposures because they breathe more air, eat more food, and drink more water per unit of body weight compared to adults. They are also less developed immunologically, physiologically, and neurologically and therefore may be more susceptible to the adverse effects of chemicals and toxins. Until now, research concerning exposures of children has been primarily focused on exposures occurring in the home, but a larger percentage of children are spending more time in child care.
To address data gaps in environmental quality data for child care environments, we measured indoor air and dust levels of several classes of pollutants from 40 ECE facilities located in two California counties (Alameda and Monterey). Compounds measured in indoor air include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbonyls, phthalate esters, brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, pesticides and particulate matter. Compounds measured in indoor dust include, lead and other metals, phthalate esters, brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, perfluorinated compounds, and pesticides.

In addition, project aims include an evaluation of the potential health risk these exposure may pose and development of inexpensive strategies for child care providers to reduce exposures to children in their facilities.

Main Findings: 

Final report and finding will be available Spring 2012.

Policy, Practice or Research Impacts: 

This project includes both research and outreach activities to reduce chemical exposures and improve environmental quality in child care settings in California, with the ultimate goal of protecting children’s health. Our research will help develop inexpensive strategies for child care providers to reduce exposures to children in their facilities.

Project Type: 
Contact Person: 
Asa Bradman
Contact Person's Email Address:
Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health
Principal Investigators: 
Asa Bradman
Website for Project or Program: 
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Batelle Memorial Institute, U.S. EPA, and UC- Santa Cruz
California Air Resource Board
Location - States: 
Location - Countries: 
United States