Toddlers’ Exposure to SVOCs in the Indoor Environment

Toddlers’ Exposure to semi-volatile organic contaminants (SVOCs) in the Indoor Environment (TESIE) is a project that seeks to characterize young children’s’ exposure to mixtures of contaminants in the home environment.  The indoor environment can often contain higher concentrations of SVOCs compared to the outdoor environment, particularly for flame retardant chemicals and plasticizers (e.g. phthalates), and there is a limited understanding of how exposure to these mixtures affects children’s health.  Between 2014-2016, we recruited approximately 200 families previously enrolled in the Newborn Epigenetics Study (NEST) cohort.

To participate  in the study, we asked families to allow our research team to visit their home and collect house dust and surface wipes from products in the home.  We also deployed passive air samplers in their main living area and asked the parents to fill out a questionnaire detailing information on the home construction and their children’s activity patterns. Blood, urine, and stool samples were also collected from the children, and some children wore a silicone wristbands for a week to measure their exposure to chemicals in the air.  

Enrollment in the study was completed in April 2016, and we are currently analyzing samples for SVOCs.  Using the data that was collected, we hope to understand how children’s exposure to SVOCs vary among homes based on construction materials used in the home and different types of consumer products present in the home.  Working with epidemiologists, these data will be analyzed to determine if there are any associations between a child’s exposure to these SVOCs and their risk for obesity and asthma.  Future studies hope to investigate associations between SVOC exposure and neurodevelopmental disorders.   This project is a collaborative project including Professors Heather Stapleton, P. Lee Ferguson, and Thomas F. Webster (Boston University School of Public Health), and was funded by grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (83564201) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (R01 ES016099). 


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