IVL, Swedish environmental institute, drinking water

Chemical smart measures in kindergarten are effective

How many chemicals are children exposed to in kindergarten? In a commission for the City of Stockholm, the IVL Swedish Environmental Institute examined a number of kindergartens and was able to contribute to a healthier indoor environment for the little people.

IVl, Global sustainability goals

"The City of Stockholm is running this project. What we do is to help with analyses and sampling," says Georgios Giovanoulis. It isn't easy. Each step, installing and setting up the equipment to collecting chemicals for analysis, and writing the report, must be done in a proper manner. Georgios Giovanoulis talks about the "analytical chain" where each link is crucial. If something fails along the way, the efforts have been in vain. "Everything needs to go right. But we are experienced and have taken these measurements many times in the past," says Georgios Giovanoulis.

So what did the analyses show? Sarka Langer tells us they found phthalates, organophosphates, brominated flame retardants, bisphenols, but not at alarming levels.

"The levels are below what you would call dangerous. But the City of Stockholm wants to reduce the levels even further. The most interesting thing they found was that measures to reduce hazardous chemicals really are effective. They saw clear differences in levels before and after remodelling at the Hamngården kindergarten. Another finding was banned chemicals are actually decreasing in the kindergartens. Substances requiring authorization have also decreased significantly in preschool air.

"In brief, remodelling and other measures are effective and that legislation is effective," says Sarka Langer.

A total of four studies have been conducted. Two more will begin in the spring of 2019, including a one-year follow-up on the Hamngården kindergarten that was remodelled. According To Sarka Langer, this is the first time before-and-after studies of this type have been conducted, and they have garnered international attention. But there are still unanswered questions.

"We still know too little about how different chemicals at low levels interact, so-called "cocktail effects". This is a common problem," says Georgios Giovanoulis.

If you would like to know more about IVL's work with chemicals, please contact:
Sarka Langer, sarka.langer@ivl.se, Tel.: +46 010-788 68 97

About the project:

  • The City of Stockholm is working proactively towards the goal of Nontoxic Stockholm 2030 - World-class chemical work" for the specific purpose of protecting children from
    hazardous chemicals. As part of this, an environmental toxicity monitoring conducted to investigate the presence
    of hazardous substances in the city's kindergartens.

  • IVL the Swedish Environmental Institute has conducted measurements and analyses in collaboration with the City of Stockholm (SISAB and Environmental administration).