Common Household Products Exposing Consumers To Toxic Dust: Study

Dust found throughout most household may expose people to dozens of harmful chemicals, potentially causing serious health side effects, according to the findings of new research. 

In a study published this week in the medical journal Environmental Science & Technology, researchers found that more than 45 different chemicals routinely leach out of common household products, such as computers, carpeting, furniture and even shower curtains.

Researchers from three universities and two environmental groups searched studies conducted on U.S. indoor dust that were published since 2000. They found more than 24 previous studies on dust. Most dust exposure studies measure only a few chemicals in small samples, however this study focused on nearly 50 chemicals from many different samples.

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The study calculated residential intake from dust ingestion, inhalation, and dermal uptake. They then compared the chemicals found with identified hazardous chemicals from the Safer Consumer Products Candidate Chemical List.

Researchers found phthalates, flame retardants, perfluoroalkyl substances, synthetic fragrances and environmental phenols. Many of the chemicals are linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive side effects, developmental and neurological side effects and in some cases possibly cancer.

These chemicals also leach out of household products, becoming a part of the air and dust in the home. Once in the dust enters the body it can have serious side effects, even with low chemical levels.

Phthalates were the chemical found in the highest concentrations in households, followed by phenols. Research has shown phthalates to be endocrine disruptors, interfering with the way hormones work in the body. The chemicals have been linked to a woman’s increased risk of developing endometriosis and fibroids.

A 2014 study linked phthalate exposure to reduced fertility in men. Men who had high levels of phthalates in their urine were more likely to suffer from fertility issues. Another study concluded phthalates often leak into the food packaging and storage products they are commonly used in, contaminating the food in the products.

Chemicals were found in many different items in the home, including furniture, shower curtains, computers, vinyl flooring, carpeting, cosmetics, vinyl blinds, and air fresheners. Researchers say chemicals in the home are impossible to avoid, considering nearly every item has multiple chemical ingredients generating chemical dust and air byproducts.

Researchers say the best way to minimize the amount of chemicals in household dust and air is to dust the home with damp cloths, mops, and remove dust from the air with HEPA filters.


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