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Exposure to household painting and floor treatments, and parental occupational paint exposure and risk of childhood brain tumors: results from an Australian case–control study

An Erratum to this article was published on 20 June 2014



Childhood brain tumors (CBT) are the leading cause of cancer death in children, yet their etiology remains largely unknown. This study investigated whether household exposure to paints and floor treatments and parental occupational painting were associated with CBT risk in a population-based case–control study conducted between 2005 and 2010.


Cases were identified through all ten Australian pediatric oncology centers, and controls via nationwide random-digit dialing, frequency matched to cases on age, sex, and state of residence. Data were obtained from parents in mailed questionnaires and telephone interviews. Information on domestic painting and floor treatments, and parental occupational exposure to paint, in key periods relating to the index pregnancy and childhood was obtained for 306 cases and 950 controls. Data were analyzed using unconditional logistic regression, adjusting for frequency matching variables and potential confounders.


Overall, we found little evidence that parental, fetal, or childhood exposure to home painting or floor treatments was associated with risk of CBT. There was, though, some evidence of a positive association between childhood exposure to indoor painting and risk of high-grade glioma [odds ratio (OR) 3.31, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.29, 8.52] based on very small numbers. The OR for the association between CBT and paternal occupational exposure to paint any time before the pregnancy was 1.32 (95 % CI 0.90, 1.92), which is consistent with the results of other studies.


Overall, we found little evidence of associations between household exposure to paint and the risk of CBT in any of the time periods investigated.

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Childhood brain tumors


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Computer-assisted telephone interview


Odds ratio


Confidence interval


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The authors acknowledge the contribution made by our clinical co-investigators who recruited and cared for study patients at each participating hospital: Nicholas Gottardo (Princess Margaret Hospital, TICHR); John Heath and Elizabeth Smibert (Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne); Peter Downie (Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne); Tim Hassall and Ross Pinkerton (Royal Children’s Hospital Brisbane); Maria Kirby (Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide); Stewart Kellie and Luciano dalla Pozza (Westmead Hospital); Frank Alvaro (John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle); Richard Cohn (Sydney Children’s Hospital); and John Daubenton (Royal Hobart Hospital). The authors also acknowledge the Clinical Research Associates at each hospital, and the study coordinators: Jackie Mansour, Somer Dawson, and Tamika Heiden.

Consortium statement

The Aus-CBT consortium conducted the study and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research (TICHR), University of Western Australia, was the coordinating center. Elizabeth Milne, Nicholas de Klerk, Carol Bower, Peter Dallas (TICHR), Bruce Armstrong (Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney), Frank van Bockxmeer (Royal Perth Hospital, University of WA), Rodney Scott and John Attia (University of Newcastle), Lin Fritschi (WA Institute for Medical Research), Lesley Ashton, Michelle Haber and Murray Norris (Children’s Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research, Lowy Cancer Research Centre, UNSW), Margaret Miller (Edith Cowan University), and Judith Thompson (WA Cancer Registry) were the research investigators.


The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded Aus-ALL (Grant Number: 254539) and Aus-CBT (Grant Number: 404089). Elizabeth Milne and Lin Fritschi were supported by NHMRC Fellowships, and Helen Bailey was supported by NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship 513934. Support for Rodney Scott was in part from NBN Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth Milne.

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Greenop, K.R., Peters, S., Fritschi, L. et al. Exposure to household painting and floor treatments, and parental occupational paint exposure and risk of childhood brain tumors: results from an Australian case–control study. Cancer Causes Control 25, 283–291 (2014).

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  • Child
  • Brain tumors
  • Paint
  • Case–control
  • Solvents
  • Occupational exposures
  • Household exposures