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Child exposed to smell of polyurethane. Could it cause cancer?

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Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 2397 Questions
We had our hardwood floors refinished with an oil based polyurethane. The smell lessened but never went away. Six weeks later we ripped the hardwoods up and discovered the contractor put the counter moldings back before it was dry. Meanwhile for six weeks the wood under the moldings was tacky and I am assuming still giving off fumes. I had a young child 1.5 yrs old in the house these 6 weeks. If this uncured polyurethane was giving off fumes could I have caused my child to get cancer from breathing this in during this exposure period?
Posted Tue, 10 Sep 2013 in Cancer
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Reassuring you

Detailed Answer:
Hello and thank you for sending the question.

I can appreciate that you are dealing with a very stressful situation. Honestly I think exposure to these feelings over this period of time would not necessarily contribute to cancer. Generally exposure to toxic substances can lead to changes or possibly development of cancer over many many years.

Six weeks of exposure to these feelings are not necessarily associated with any chronic health problems. Of course this is very difficult to say for sure because there are no studies which have been done on human beings in this type of environment.

I am glad that you have found the problem and have worked on getting that resolved. I really think close observation would be fine for now. If anyone in the family develops any symptoms such as coughing respiratory symptoms this should be followed by your primary care doctor.

Again I don't think six weeks of exposure to these fumes would contribute to cancer.
Unfortunately We cannot provide any guarantee of this. I really see no significant risk however.

Thanks again for sharing your health concerns.

Dr. Galamaga
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