THE USE OF FLAME RATARDANT CHEMICALS IN HEALTHCARE SETTINGS AND POTENTIAL EXPOSURE

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2014-04-25

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Abstract

While increased attention has focused on human exposure to flame retardant chemical additives in residential settings, little attention has focused on exposure and health risks in health care settings. More stringent flammability standards in these settings may result in increased use and exposure to these potentially toxic compounds in vulnerable populations including sick patients, the elderly, children and pregnant women. The goal of this project was to collect more information on the use and potential exposure to flame retardant chemicals in health care environments. To accomplish this goal, manufacturers of health care products were surveyed for information about the construction of their products and application of flame retardant chemicals. In addition, chemical analyses were conducted on both samples of furniture foam and indoor dust samples collected from hospitals as a means of estimating potential exposure and risks to hazardous flame retardants. Very few companies responded to the survey, resulting in limited responses, therefore, more focus was placed on chemical analyses in samples of healthcare products and hospital dust particles. Flame retardant chemicals were detected and quantified in 7 furniture products including a hospital sofa, patient beds and a baby bed. Several different flame retardant chemicals were also detected and quantified in 22 dust samples from 15 different hospitals. The range of total polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) concentrations in dust samples was 1,080 to 75,800 ng/g dry dust and the total organophosphate flame retardants (OPFR) concentrations ranged from 2,290 to 108,000 ng/g dry dust. On average, the levels of OPFR in hospital dust were equivalent to reported levels in residential dust samples while the levels of PBDEs and a newer-use flame retardant commercial mixture, Firemaster® 550 (FM 550), in hospital dust was higher than reported in residential environments. Estimates of exposure were made based on these measured concentrations and US EPA human dust ingestion data. Based on these findings, exposure to flame retardant chemicals in health care settings could be higher for vulnerable and sick populations, and suggests further research may be needed to assess potential health risks.

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Chen, Zhuoyuan (2014). THE USE OF FLAME RATARDANT CHEMICALS IN HEALTHCARE SETTINGS AND POTENTIAL EXPOSURE. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/8525.


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