Environmental Health News just reported on a Swedish study that accidentally found a strong link between vinyl flooring and autism. “Children who live in homes with vinyl floors, which can emit phthalates, are twice as likely to have autism, according to a new study by Swedish and U.S. researchers. Scientists call the discovery ‘intriguing and baffling.’ Experts suspect that genetic and environmental factors combine to cause autism, which has increased dramatically in children over the past 20 years.”
Yes, autism has increased suddenly… it has increased seven-fold since 1990, which is far too fast to be attributed to genetics. It makes sense that environmental poisons are at play, yet few studies have been undertaken to attempt to pinpoint them. Vinyl is toxic. That’s not up for debate. But, while manufacturers want you to believe that the toxins released by vinyl into the air are minuscule and harmless, I doubt these researches agree.
“Of the study’s 4,779 children between the ages of 6 and 8, 72 had autism, including 60 boys.
The researchers found four environmental factors associated with autism: vinyl flooring, the mother’s smoking, family economic problems and condensation on windows, which indicates poor ventilation.
Infants or toddlers who lived in bedrooms with vinyl, or PVC, floors were twice as likely to have autism five years later, in 2005, than those with wood or linoleum flooring.”
In the full article it is made clear that the findings are far from conclusive. But, scientists have agreed that targeted studies need to be designed to look for a connection between autism and indoor air pollutants.
And, mamas, if vinyl flooring is dangerous for babies, toddlers and children, it’s not at all safe for your unborn baby. If you’re pregnant, do what you can to avoid vinyl of all kinds at home and at work. If you can’t escape it, open windows as much as possible to allow the toxins to disperse. Also, think seriously about replacing your baby’s conventional mattress (which is covered with vinyl) with a non-toxic mattress. Babies that nap on vinyl are breathing in those fumes day in and day out, just at a time when they’re so vulnerable.