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Office work increases toxicity in bloodstreams?

Office work increases toxicity in bloodstreams?

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Are office blocks damaging to a worker's health?

According to new research, individuals that spend long hours in office settings carry high levels of toxic chemicals, polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in their blood.

The office building. A place many of us spend a large proportion of our days in -- sallow lighting, cubicles and the continual buzz of phones and chatter in your ears. In some jobs it may be mind-numbing, but according to a new study, it may also affect your health.

The research, conducted by Boston University, questions whether office features including carpet and furniture, often treated with polyfluorinated compounds increases levels of PFCs in relation to time spent in such buildings.

The Boston researchers found that workers putting in long hours had higher levels of these chemicals within their bloodstreams than colleagues who spent more time outside of the office. An environmental health scientist at Boston, the author of the study Michael McClean said:

"When we think of occupational exposures, it’s easy to think about construction workers or welders. We wanted to look at those environments and see what was in the air."

The research was undertaken through 31 adults living and working in office buildings across Boston. 25 percent of the offices were located in recently constructed buildings, 50 percent in partially renovated, older buildings -- and one quarter that have not been recently renovated.

According to the research, the overall levels of PFCs within the air were highest in the new buildings, and accounts for 36 percent of PFC levels within a bloodstream.

This suggests that many office workers in the labor force are being exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals that are airborne, although no specific health issues were explored through the study. However, it has been linked in other studies to health issues including a range of developmental effects, smaller birth weight, developmental delays, organ abnormalities, and reproductive issues. A number of studies have suggested that exposure to PFCs have become widespread, and are global contaminants that pollute and damage the bodies of both humans and animals.

The study is published in the current Environmental Science & Technology journal, and was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

(via News Discovery)

Image credit: Phil Whitehouse

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure