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Office air may expose workers to toxic substances: study

January 25, 2012

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Boston – Office workers may be exposed to potentially toxic substances emitted by carpeting, furniture and paint, according to new research from Boston University.

The study of 31 office workers found a link between the levels of polyfluorinated compounds in office air and the blood of office workers, according to the study abstract.

PFCs, commonly used in water-repellent coatings on carpet and furniture, may be harmful to human health, according to a press release from the Washington-based American Chemical Society, which published the study.

Researchers found that concentrations of a PFC called fluorotelomer alcohol in office air were 3-5 times higher than amounts reported in studies of household air. The findings suggest that “offices may represent a unique and important exposure environment,” researchers said, noting that the risk appears greater for workers in newly renovated buildings.

The study appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of Environmental Science & Technology.

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