A study in the journal Environmental Health contends that old wood floor finishes in some homes may be an overlooked source of exposure to the now banned environmental pollutants polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
PCBs are persistent organic pollutants identified worldwide as human blood and breast milk contaminants. They were once widely used but were banned in the 1970s because of their high toxicity. PCBs are associated with thyroid toxicity, effects on immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems, and cancer effects including breast cancer. The researchers, from the Silent Spring Institute, say that exposure from old wood floor finishes may be even more significant for some people than their diet.
The researchers point out that many buildings, including schools and public buildings, from this period may harbor PCB-containing floor finishes or other products. "Our findings suggest that the exposure potential posed by historic use of PCBs in building materials may be significantly underestimated," they concluded.
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Source: Environmental Health