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16 October 2007 | Printer friendly

Indoor Environment Quality in Nursery Centers

Organisation: Public Hygiene in Hainaut

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Authorities check toxics in nurseries

A public health authority in Belgium is keen to learn more about the environmental health of young children in all-day nurseries. The concern was prompted by the “Green Ambulance” programme which undertakes investigations inside schools, nurseries and homes when an indoor environment is suspected to be the cause of a child’s illness.

Public Hygiene in Hainaut, an NGO linked to the regional Public Health Institute, gained the agreement of 46 out of the 50 nurseries in the Province of Hainaut for a study. The team took air samples to test for atmospheric humidity and toxics, made a systematic search for moulds, dust mites and dampness, and checked tap water for lead and Legionella. They also completed questionnaires with parents on children’s illnesses and medications.

The results showed that children in nurseries are exposed to a mixture of compounds that could be hazardous. About 30% of nurseries had moulds and dust-mites, and the tap water in 40% of the facilities contained Legionella and lead. The Legionella was a surprise finding and the team believes that it may be responsible for a recent unusual respiratory problem in children. The medical community is being alerted.

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