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Wood Floor Finish Chemical Banned in 1977 Still Found in Environment

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The world that surrounds us, including the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink, is full of chemicals. These chemicals can affect our health and may increase the risk of breast and other cancers. A study found that a chemical that was banned many years ago still remains in the environment.

Older women living in houses with a wood floor finish used in the '50s and '60s that contained PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) had high levels of PCBs in their blood. PCBs were banned in the United States in 1977 because they can cause cancer. The PCBs might have been released many years after the floor finish was applied if the floors were refinished. Or they could have slowly been released from the floor as the finish aged. This study didn't show a direct link to higher breast cancer risk in the women studied, but past research has shown that being exposed to PCBs may cause breast cancer.

If you live in an older home and are concerned about environmental health hazards, you might want to have an licensed home inspector who specializes in finding toxins such as lead, asbestos, mold, and PCBs look at your house. In most cases, there are safe, practical ways to remove these substances if they're found. To find a home inspector, ask a trusted realtor in your area or check with your local health department.

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