In a new evidence study review, researchers have identified 45 potentially toxic chemicals in dust samples from homes in 14 states.
These chemicals come from a broad array of consumer products, including furniture, carpeting, drapes, electronics and toys, said lead author Ami Zota. She’s an assistant professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute of School of Public Health in Washington, D.C.
“Indoor dust is a reservoir for consumer-product chemicals,” Zota said. “Many of the times when these chemicals are added to consumer products, they’re not chemically bound to the products. They can migrate out of the product and into the air or dust,” she explained.
“Some of these chemicals are associated with serious health outcomes,” she said, “particularly children’s health.”
The American Chemistry Council, which represents the chemicals industry, said the study “only tells part of the story.” “The mere presence of a chemical does not signify risk to human health,” the council said in a statement. “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 is chief of occupational and environmental medicine for Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. He said the presence of these potentially harmful chemicals in homes has been known for some time and is worthy of some 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, he said.
The study authors said they found 10 harmful chemicals in 90% or more of the dust samples analyzed, including a known cancer-causing agent called TDCIPP. Used as a flame retardant, it’s found in furniture, baby products and other household items.
Another chemical, a phthalate known as DEHP, “was detected in 100% of the samples,” Zota said. Phthalates are thought to interfere with hormones in the body. They’ve also been linked to a range of reproductive and developmental health issues, including IQ declines and respiratory problems in children, she said.
The study findings were published Sept. 14 in Environmental Science and Technology.
I know this is antidotal, but at the end of another hot summer, all my family members are complaining of allergy-like symptoms – running nose, congestion, frequent sneezing. I believe it is the toxic dust that has accumulated in a house that has been closed up since May. The same issue applies to homes up north in the winter. I change my A/C filter regularly and have a UV filter in the plenum. We have a few area rugs, but have eliminated all carpeting. We vacuum frequently and wet-mop the hard surfaces. However, what we really need is that first fall cold spell so we can open up the house.
The Bottom Line:
A toxic home is a real threat to your family’s health. Of course the American Chemistry Council down plays any potential threat. They do not want to be held accountable. What every home needs is a real “spring cleaning” even if that happens during October in South Florida.
Source: September 14, 2015 National Institutes of Health