Children living in homes with all vinyl flooring were found to have higher concentrations of a toxin linked to respiratory disorders, skin irritations and reproductive disorders than children in homes with no vinyl flooring, according to a study at Duke University.

The concentration of benzyl butyl phthalate metabolite, a semi-volatile organic compound (SVOC) also linked to multiple myeloma, was 15 times higher in the blood and urine of children living in homes with all vinyl floors.

The study spanned three years and examined 203 children from 190 families, analyzing indoor air, dust and furniture.

Potentially harmful SVOCs are detected in nearly all indoor environments, according to the lead researcher, Heather Stapleton, but exposure for young children who spend most of their time indoors is typically greater.

The study also found evidence of higher SVOCs in children living in homes were a flame-retardant chemical was used on the sofa.