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Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals Found in Dust Samples in Preschools, Day Care Centers

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 15, 2014
Contact: Janet Nudelman, 415-279-1473,

SAN FRANCISCO—A significant new study published May 15 in the journal Chemosphere found flame retardant chemicals were present in preschool and day care centers, potentially exposing young children to these toxic chemicals linked to cancer.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley collected dust and air samples from 40 day care settings in two Calif. counties and found both polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and tris phosphate compounds in 100 percent of the dust samples collected. Tris is a presumed human carcinogen, which was banned from children’s pajamas in the 1970s by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission. Furniture and children’s foam sleeping pads are a likely source of the chemicals, which have been subjected to new regulations by the California’s Safer Consumer Products Program. The study was funded by the California Air Resource Board.

Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund, said:

“While Congress argues over whether to more strictly regulate hazardous chemicals, young children are the unwitting victims as they continue to be exposed in day care centers and preschools to toxic flame retardants found in dust from sleeping mats and furniture.

The good news is Calif.’s leaders have instated new limits on the use of toxic flame retardants including rules issued in 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration requiring the evaluation of TDCPP (chlorinated tris)’s safety and requiring the adoption of new flammability standards for furniture that would no longer require the use of toxic flame-retardant chemicals.

However, most manufacturers are not making the shift to safer chemicals, instead they are continuing to use hazardous chemicals in their products. Rather than leave industries free to shift from one toxic chemical to another, Congress must quickly create a new law that makes using safer chemicals a requirement for doing business in America.”


The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.