BUND: Increased plasticizer load in day care centers

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Increased concentration of dangerous plasticizers in day care centers

In the daycare centers in Germany, the concentration of toxic plastic softeners has increased significantly. The Federal Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND) found this out during the examination of 60 day care centers and warns of permanent damage to health.

When examining the dust samples from 60 daycare centers, the BUND found that they were significantly more contaminated with harmful plasticizers than in normal households. On average, the concentration of toxic plastic softeners in daycare centers was three times higher than that of private households, the environmental protection organization said in Berlin on Tuesday.

BUND shocked by plasticizer load in daycare centers According to BUND, the concentration of phthalates (plasticizers) in day care centers is extremely worrying overall. The BUND chemistry expert, Sarah Häuser, described the result of the voluntary and anonymous investigation as "shocking" and emphasized that "children (...) are exposed to great stress without need". In some daycare centers, the concentration of plasticizers is so high that the children ingesting dangerous chemicals in health-threatening concentrations simply by staying in the day care center, explained the BUND expert. In view of the available results, the BUND has now asked the Minister of Consumer Protection Ilse Aigner (CSU) to ban substances harmful to health in the area surrounding children. The laboratory commissioned by the BUND had mainly detected the phthalates DINP and DEHP in the daycare centers examined, whereby the plasticizer DEHP is officially classified by the Federal Environment Agency and the EU as harmful to reproduction. Ibrahim Chahoud of the Berlin Charité explained that phthalates act like hormones and "can lead to permanent changes in children". For example, plasticizers would have a negative effect on testicular and sperm development, the expert emphasized.

Wallpaper and furniture cause dangerous plasticizer concentration The reason for the high concentration of dangerous plasticizers in daycare centers is, according to the BUND, soft PVC, which is mainly found in floors, vinyl wallpapers, gym mats, plastic tablecloths, plastic furniture and plastic furniture upholstery. While plasticizers are prohibited in toys, their use in other products remains possible, according to the criticism of BUND expert Sarah Häuser. The dangerous plasticizers are released from the products over time, with the result of significantly higher concentrations in daycare centers, emphasized houses. The tolerance values ​​introduced by the European Food Safety Authority for various phthalates also do not ensure that the plasticizers do not have any negative health effects, because, as the Berlin toxicologist Ibrahim Chahoud pointed out, "there is (...) no safe dose and it always remains a risk". So far, no one has been able to determine how the different combinations of the substances react with each other and in the human body. According to the expert, it would also be conceivable that the negative health effects of the various plasticizers add up. Therefore “should (we) try to minimize the burden as much as possible”, stressed the toxicologist.

BUND: Avoid plasticizers, use natural materials For some time now, BUND has recommended avoiding products made of soft PVC wherever possible and, especially in the vicinity of children, not using any products containing plasticizers. Against this background, it appears particularly critical that a significantly increased concentration of phthalates has now been found in the daycare centers. Why the developers and operators do not pay attention to the avoidance of materials that potentially contain plasticizers remains a mystery. The cost argument may play a role here, since natural materials - the BUND recommends natural rubber, wood, linoleum or cork - are often significantly more expensive. However, the municipalities in particular, which are often operators and developers of the daycare centers, should be aware of their responsibility for the health of children and not endanger them for cost reasons. Almost every specialist book on living poisons provides enough information to prevent the harmful phthalates. In the daycare centers, the BUND also recommends regular ventilation and cleaning in order to minimize the concentration of health-endangering plasticizers as much as possible. (fp)

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Image: Jürgen Frey / pixelio.de

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