Researchers analyzing dust collected from homes and other indoor areas throughout the U.S. found that all the dust samples contain a multitude of chemicals linked to cancer and other serious health problems, according to a study published Sept. 14.
Furniture, flooring, cleaning products, cosmetics, and even electronics release chemical particles that become airborne and accumulate on floors and other surfaces. These chemicals can enter the body through the air we breathe or by transferring them from surfaces to hands and food to mouth.
The 15-year study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, was the first study to look at all of the chemical combinations present in dust instead of focusing on a single threat.
“Our idea was that by looking at dust, and the individual chemicals in dust, we could reveal the bigger picture of chemical contamination in the home – just like individual dots in an impressionist painting create a larger image,” principal study author Veena Singla said, adding that the findings reveal “a disturbing picture” of what of really found inside the home – or car, office, gym, etc., and just about every other indoor space for that matter.
Researchers said the study is important because U.S. residents spend nearly 90 percent of their time indoors where toxic dust abounds.
One hundred percent of the dust samples analyzed contained DEHP and DEHA, phthalates linked to hormonal disruptions and reproductive problems. Other chemicals found in nearly 100 percent of the samples include other phthalates, flame retardant chemicals linked to cancer and nervous system damage, and phenol, a common ingredient in cosmetics, lotions, and deodorants, which is a known reproductive system and hormonal toxin.
The study was conducted by scientists from George Washington University, Harvard University, University of California San Francisco, the Silent Spring Institute, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.