VOC exposures in California early childhood education environments

T. Hoang, R. Castorina, F. Gaspar, R. Maddalena, P. L. Jenkins, Q. Zhang, T. E. McKone, E. Benfenati, A. Y. Shi, A. Bradman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little information exists about exposures to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in early childhood education (ECE) environments. We measured 38 VOCs in single-day air samples collected in 2010-2011 from 34 ECE facilities serving California children and evaluated potential health risks. We also examined unknown peaks in the GC/MS chromatographs for indoor samples and identified 119 of these compounds using mass spectral libraries. VOCs found in cleaning and personal care products had the highest indoor concentrations (d-limonene and decamethylcyclopentasiloxane [D5] medians: 33.1 and 51.4 μg/m³, respectively). If reflective of long-term averages, child exposures to benzene, chloroform, ethylbenzene, and naphthalene exceeded age-adjusted “safe harbor levels” based on California's Proposition 65 guidelines (10−5 lifetime cancer risk) in 71%, 38%, 56%, and 97% of facilities, respectively. For VOCs without health benchmarks, we used information from toxicological databases and quantitative structure–activity relationship models to assess potential health concerns and identified 12 VOCs that warrant additional evaluation, including a number of terpenes and fragrance compounds. While VOC levels in ECE facilities resemble those in school and home environments, mitigation strategies are warranted to reduce exposures. More research is needed to identify sources and health risks of many VOCs and to support outreach to improve air quality in ECE facilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-621
Number of pages13
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2017


  • childcare
  • children
  • exposure
  • QSAR
  • risk characterization
  • VOCs
  • volatile organic compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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