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27 September 2006
Solvent Study Paints Bleak Picture For Babies

A new study suggests that hubby might want to think carefully about when to paint the spare room in preparation for that new addition to the family. Research from the University of Alberta, Canada, shows that the babies of men who paint for a living are at a high risk of low birth weight and birth defects.

The study assessed male construction workers from the Netherlands who had been exposed to concentrations of airborne organic solvents 3 months prior to their partners falling pregnant. All up, 398 painters regularly exposed to a chemical cocktail of paints, thinners and cleansers; and 302 carpenters with next to no exposure, were assessed.

Worryingly, the researchers discovered that males working as painters were six times more likely than the carpenters to have children born with serious birth defects. Equally disturbing was the finding that this group also had a 50 to 100 percent chance of producing low-weight babies.

The findings are worrying, the researchers say, as the levels of exposure experienced by the painters were well within Dutch regulation work limits, which are similar to those in place in the US and Canada. "Now it is less certain whether these exposures are safe," said University of Alberta researcher, Dr. Igor Burstyn.

Unfortunately, Dr. Burstyn doesn't know how the chemicals are causing the birth defects. "We need to evaluate and compare the influence of resulting solvent exposures on reproductive health," said Dr. Burstyn, suggesting that an investigation into a much wider range of paints and organic solvents is needed.

Source: University of Alberta

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