Toxic Dust Sounds like something out of a Sci-Fi film, but this dust is probably in your house!
Researchers identified 45 potentially toxic chemicals in household dust samples from homes in 14 states, which could potentially expose people to toxins… in their own home!
Where do these chemicals come from?
- electronics.. including cell phones
“Indoor dust is a reservoir for consumer-product chemicals,” Zota said (one of the researchers in the study). “Many of the times when these chemicals are added to consumer products they are not chemically bound. They can migrate out of the product and into the air or dust,” she explained.
The 26 studies analyzed did not evaluate is these toxins are causing health problems; however, exposure to this degree should cause concern.
“Some of these chemicals are associated with serious health outcomes,” Zota said, “particularly children’s health.”
The American Chemistry Council, which represents the chemicals industry stated, “The mere presence of a chemical does not significant risk to human health. Assessing health risks depends not only on understanding which substances are present in something like dust but also on the actual amount, route, duration and timing of exposure to those substances. Most of this important information is missing in this study.”
Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, the chief of occupational and environmental medicine for Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. , stated that “these potentially harmful chemicals in homes has been known for some time and should cause concern.”
“Each of us tends to spend the vast majority of our lives indoors,” Spaeth said. “That includes sleeping and most of our daily life.”
“Continual exposure to these dust-borne chemicals means that even substances that are quickly flushed from the body, like phthalates, continue to be replenished by our indoor environment, he said. “Other chemicals, such as flame retardants, tend to accumulate in the body, increasing the health risk… To what extent these chemicals are in our bodies or affecting our health are open and important questions.”
Scary Statistics on Toxic Dust
- 90% or more of dust samples had 10 harmful chemicals known as the cancer-causing agent called TDCIPP, a flame retardant. TDCIPP is found in baby products, furniture, and other household items.
- 100% of dust samples had DEHP, a phthalate thought to interfere with hormones in the body. Guess what? They are also linked to reproductive and developmental health issues, including IQ declines and respiratory problems in children, she said.
Classes of Dangerous Chemicals Found in Dust
- Phthalates — the chemicals found in the highest amounts in the dust samples. Phthalates, which soften plastics and act as solvents, are used to make cosmetics, toys, vinyl flooring and other products.
- Phenols — used in cleaning products and other household items — were the second-most common chemical class found in dust, followed by flame retardants and highly fluorinated chemicals used to make nonstick cookware, the study found.
- Highly fluorinated chemicals, such as PFOA and PFOS, which are found in cell phones, pizza boxes and many nonstick, waterproof and stain-resistant products. “These chemicals have been linked to problems of the immune, digestive, developmental and endocrine systems.”
What Can You Do For Your Home?
Zota and Spaeth said you can reduce your exposure to household dust by:
- Wash hands frequently. Small children often put dust-covered fingers and hands in their mouths.wash Photo by jar 
- Vacuum carpets frequently using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter, and wet-mopping hard surfaces.
- Buy Safer Household Products. Using online consumer tools to buy furniture without flame retardants or stain guard, or toys that are phthalate-free.
- Opening windows. Allows fresh-air circulation.
“These kinds of simple measures can really make a difference,” Spaeth said.
The study findings were published Sept. 14 in Environmental Science & Technology.
SOURCES: Ami Zota, Sc.D., assistant professor, environmental and occupational health, George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, Washington, D.C.; Kenneth Spaeth, M.D., MPH, chief, occupational and environmental medicine, Northwell Health, Great Neck, N.Y.; Sept. 13, 2016, statement, American Chemistry Council; Sept. 14, 2016, Environmental Science & Technology