Study: Household dust laced with toxic chemicals

There’s bad news today for those of you who consider dust to be a protective coating. It might be killing you, CBS News says.

A new study, examining two dozen previous reports, finds that 90% of the dust examined contained 10 toxic chemicals.

Phthalates, which is used in toys and vinyl flooring, was the chemical found in the highest concentration.

They were followed by phenols, often used in cleaning products. Then came flame retardants, fragrances and perflouroalkyl substances, which are used in carpets, textiles, and leather to make them water-, oil- and stain-repellent and to create grease-proof and waterproof coatings for products such as paper plates and food packaging.

“Phthalates are linked to multiple health hazards, including reproductive,” Signla said. “And some flame retardants​ are linked to cancer.”

The authors of the study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, were especially concerned about exposure to children, especially very young children who crawl around on the floor and put their hands in their mouths.

One scientist says some of the chemicals come from fragrances put in household cleaners.

Like furniture spray to clean dust.


    OKAAAAAY now tell us just how much would be ingested by a child and if that dose is anywhere near a concern.
    Could this be more about ability today to detect things in a handful of a trillion than we will all get sick????

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      • Kurt O

        I got this one Bob:

        Yes, instrumental detection limits are much lower than concentrations that will cause immediate harm. The concern is that over time chemicals build up in your body (aka “bioaccumulation”). Those effects can be difficult to determine because they develop over time, like lead exposure.

        Mercury in fish is another example of bioaccumulation, with an added twist: “bioamplification”. Chemical concentration goes up with each link of the food chain: Mercury in water is absorbed by plankton, which little fish eat. Bigger fish eat the little ones, then get eaten by seals, who polar bears eat…

    • Bob Sinclair
  • Gary F

    But still poor diet,abuse of alcohol, lack of exercise, and tobacco use are the biggest things killing us right now. I’ll worry about those first.

  • Anna

    So I guess we need to start wearing N-95 masks to clean our homes.

    We stress well insulated homes with double pane windows to save on electric bills but a home that doesn’t “breathe” can cause additional health problems because all those dangerous chemicals are trapped inside.

    My childhood home had one patch of carpet in the hallway. All the other flooring was hardwood, tile or linoleum, the tough predecessor of vinyl flooring. When my parents added a new two-story addition there was carpet in the bedrooms and the hallways but all of us were well beyond the “crawl” stage by that point.

    My son was raised in a house built in the 1950’s with a few stints in apartments with horrors—carpet and vinyl flooring. When he was a baby, our rental house had all hardwood floors. He has no allergies with the exception of hay fever.

    I guess this is one more thing helicopter parents will add to their worry list.

    Moral of the story—live in a log cabin. Totally natural and chemical free. But you might have problems with termites.

  • Veronica

    I think there has been a wee bit of movement to change this, but in the US, companies can label an additive as “fragrance” and not have to disclose what exactly is making that smell. Yes, it’s bad that these awful, often unnamed, chemicals are in cleaning products, but thankfully there are a growing number of products that don’t use artificial fragrances or other chemicals that often lead to respiratory irritation or worse. It used to be that you had to go to a co-op to get less harmful cleaners, but now it’s easy to find them in almost every store.

    Don’t even get me started on air fresheners….