WEDNESDAY, April 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- If you have kids and carpets, it might be time to redecorate. Older carpets are a major source of kids' exposure to harmful chemicals known as PFAS, researchers say.
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are associated with serious health risks in kids and adults, including impaired neurodevelopment, immune system dysfunction, hormone disruption and cancer.
The chemicals were once used to make carpets stain- and soil-resistant, but most manufacturers recently stopped using them. That means families, schools and daycares can eliminate kids' exposure to PFAS by replacing older carpets, according to the study authors.
"From circle time to nap time, young schoolchildren spend a lot of time on the floor," said study lead author Marta Venier. She's an associate scientist in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington.
"Harmful PFAS in carpets and dust then collect on kids' hands and toys, which they put in their mouths. This is also true in homes, where infants and toddlers crawl and play on carpets," Venier said in a university news release.
For the study, the researchers measured PFAS concentrations in carpet and dust samples collected from 18 California childcare centers in 2018. Both the carpet and dust samples contained significant levels of 40 PFAS chemicals, and carpets appeared to be a source.
The researchers said their findings show that PFAS in carpets pose a health risk for children in contact with carpets.
Most major retailers no long sell carpets with PFAS, the study authors noted.
Study co-author Tom Bruton said that's a major win for children's health.
"With PFAS-free carpets more available, schools and families can replace older carpets and protect children's health from exposure to these dangerous and long-lasting chemicals," he said. Bruton is a senior scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute in Berkeley, Calif.
The report was published recently in the journal Chemosphere.
There's more on PFAS and your health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.