BERKELEY (KCBS) – UC Berkeley researchers have recorded high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde at dozens of Northern California day care facilities.

Eighty-seven percent of the day care centers studied showed formaldehyde levels above exposure the state considers acceptable during an eight hour period, although not significantly higher than in a typical home.

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“The primary source is from particle board and other kinds of pressed furniture and plywood,” said Asa Bradman, the study’s lead author.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

The findings suggest rules California implemented in 2008 to reduce formaldehyde in the glues used to make particle board and other press board furniture had yet to have a significant impact, Bradman said.

“This study, a few years after these rules went into effect, points to the need to keep monitoring this and seeing if the rules are effective.”

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The UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health looked at 40 day care centers in Alameda and Monterey Counties for what appears to be the first detailed analysis of environmental contaminants at California child care facilities.

Formaldehyde can also form when chemicals from cleaners and sanitizers with citrus scent react with ozone. Bradman said the highest concentrations found in the study were related to cleaning products.

“Cleaning products in general don’t contain formaldehyde, but in situations where there’s high ozone, in perhaps the interior hot valleys in California, these cleaning products can react with ozone,” he said, forming formaldehyde and other small particles as a by-product.

The study was funded by the California Air Resources Board, which four years ago launched a campaign to reduce formaldehyde emissions.

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