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Safe, Healthy, Affordable, Responsible Environments (SHARE) for Early Childhood Education in Greater Boston

Project Details

Year: 2016
Location: Greater Boston Area
Project Manager: Ryan Bouldin, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Chemistry
Partners: Duke University, MA Childcare Providers


Many environmental toxins are introduced to childcare facilities through the products care providers purchase.  This type of behavior can be described as regrettable product purchasing; the products may perform their intended function, but they also introduce unintended chemical exposures.  Regrettable product purchasing may occur for a number of reasons, including the need to meet ambiguous state regulations, a perception of increased cost for safer products, a lack of education concerning environmental toxins, and a lack of experience purchasing materials that are environmentally preferable.  It is the purpose of this project to assess the current state of knowledge and risk perception of childcare providers in Massachusetts about toxins found in childcare products. In support, this project built two case studies for all childcare providers in Massachusetts that demonstrate the burden and cost of identifying problematic products that contain FRs and phthalates and replacing them with environmentally preferable products.  


The project was measured on identifying a suite of safer products for childcare providers and if it was able to provide a model for childcares across MA to adopt safer alternatives.  They conducted a comprehensive survey of MA childcare providers on their risk perceptions and self-reported knowledge of environmental health. The survey had over seven hundred responses and provides a representative sample of all childcare providers in MA.  During the testing phase, twenty eight products for flame retardants and ten products for phthalates were sent out. They were able to successfully identify safer alternatives in seven major product categories that covered almost all aspects of childcare from play, feeding, rest, and hygiene. A total of 105 products were replaced and a total of eight childcare facilities carrying for over one hundred children have safer products as a result of the project.  A case study document will continue to raise awareness and guide childcare providers in MA towards safer products.

This page updated Monday July 23 2018