Over 90 percent of indoor dust contains harmful chemicals which can cause serious health problems, a new study has found.
Scientists have identified the top ten harmful chemicals found in dust.
Number one on the list is DEHP, a phthalate found in everyday products such as food packaging, toys, cosmetics , vinyl flooring and anything fragranced from shampoo and hair spray to air fresheners.
Phthalates such as DEP, DEHP, DNBP, and DIBP are even found in products on the drug store shelves and in fast foods.
They can interfere with hormones in the body and cause serious health issues, including early menopause, respiratory problems in children and declines in IQ.
Phenols came second highest on the list.
These chemicals are widely used in household and cleaning products.
Phenols were followed by flame retardants (TDCIPP) and highly fluorinated chemicals used to make non-stick cookware.
TDCIPP is a cancer-causing agent commonly found in baby products, furniture, electronics and other household goods.
PFOA and PFOS are highly fluorinated chemicals that may harm the digestive, immune, developmental and endocrine systems.
PFOA and PFOS are found in pizza boxes, cell phones, non-stick waterproof and stain-resistant products.
The study suggests that a small amount of these chemicals in dust can reach a toxic level.
They could be linked to cancer and infertility in humans and are even more harmful to infants and young children .
Adverse health effects include cognitive and behavioral impairment in children, immune dysfunction, asthma, cancer, chronic disease, interference with the hormone systems and infertility.
Dr Veena Singla, co-author of the study, said:
“The number and levels of toxic and untested chemicals that are likely in every one of our living rooms was shocking to me.
Harmful chemicals used in everyday products and building materials result in widespread contamination of our homes—these dangerous chemicals should be replaced with safer alternatives.”
However, there are several ways to reduce exposure to dust.
They recommend keeping dust levels low by:
- Using a strong vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Cleaning the floor with a damp mop.
- Washing hands with plain soap.
- Avoiding household and personal care products that contain these chemicals.
Dr Robin Dodson, a study co-author, said:
“Consumers have the power to make healthier choices and protect themselves from harmful chemicals in everyday products.
These things can make a real difference not only in their health but also in shifting the market toward safer products.”
The study was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology (Mitro et al., 2016).
Household dust image from Shutterstock