Washington : Household dust exposes people to a wide range of toxic chemicals from everyday products, states a recent study conducted at the George Washington University, according to ANI. The team conducted a first-of-a-kind meta-analysis, compiling data from dust samples to identify the top ten toxic chemicals commonly found in dust.
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They found that DEHP, a chemical belonging to a hazardous class called phthalates, was number one on that list. In addition, the researchers found that phthalates overall were found at the highest levels in dust followed by phenols and flame retardant chemicals.
Lead author Ami Zota said, “Our study is the first comprehensive analysis of consumer product chemicals found in household dust. The findings suggest that people, and especially children, are exposed on a daily basis to multiple chemicals in dust that are linked to serious health problems.”
Chemicals from consumer products are released into the air and get into dust, which can settle on household items or on the floor. People can inhale or ingest small particles of dust or even absorb them through the skin.
Infants and young children are particularly at risk for exposure to the chemicals found in dust because they crawl, play on dusty floors, and put their hands in their mouths. Zota and her colleagues pooled data from 26 peer-reviewed papers and a dataset that analyzed dust samples taken from homes in 14 states.
They found 45 potentially toxic chemicals that are used in many consumer and household products such as vinyl flooring, personal care and cleaning products, building materials and home furnishings. The meta-analysis combines information from smaller dust studies and thus offers solid conclusions with greater statistical power.
The team found that ten harmful chemicals are found in ninety percent of the dust samples across multiple studies, including a known cancer-causing agent called TDCIPP. This flame retardant is frequently found in furniture, baby products and other household items.
Indoor dust consistently contains four classes of harmful chemicals in high amounts. Phthalates, substances that are used to make cosmetics, toys, vinyl flooring, and other products, were found in the highest concentration with a mean of 7,682 nanograms per gram of dust-an amount that was several orders of magnitude above the others.
Phenols, chemicals used in cleaning products and other household items, were the number two highest chemical class followed by flame retardants and highly fluorinated chemicals used to make non-stick cookware.
The intake numbers in this study probably underestimate the true exposure to such chemicals, which are also found in products on the drug store shelf and even in fast food the authors say.