4 Things you had no Idea Were in Household Dust

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household dust
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We buy household cleaning products all year long to get rid of germs, stains and odors to make our homes healthy havens. We buy personal hygiene products and other consumer goods because they make our life easier and our homes safer. Do they actually?

Researchers analyzed household dust samples from 14 states and found 10 toxic chemicals, which can be harmful to human health and the environment.

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Domestic Pollution

It is well known that the mites, fungi, and bacteria that can cause allergies, respiratory diseases and neurodermatitis are found in household dust. In the past, however, there has been insufficient research on the health risks involved.

Researchers at the Milken Institute at George Washington University have meta-analyzed 26 studies of dust samples from 14 U.S. states. They found 45 toxic chemical compounds inside consumer and household products, including floor and furniture cleaners, and personal care and health products among others.

According to the results, published in The Royal Society’s Journal, scientists identified 10 harmful chemicals, represented by 4 larger groups of chemicals, found in 90% of the samples. These 4 groups of chemicals can have an adverse effect on health, especially on young children and pregnant women.

Four Toxic Chemicals you Never Thought Were in Household Dust:

1. Phthalates

Overall, phthalates class (DEP, DEHP, BBP, and DnBP) forms the most toxic category in household dust, with DEHP, DiEthylHexyl Phthalate, coming first on the list. Phthalates, found in toys and floor cleaners alike, are classified as carcinogenic and endocrine disruptors. They can affect fertility, development of the fetus and newborn babies.

2. Phenols

Phenols are found everywhere, but the toxic examples are found mainly in cleaning products and household items. Certain phenols can cause health problems with prolonged exposure.

3. Flame Retardants

The flame retardants class – including TDCIPP and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), are known carcinogenic compounds usually found in furniture, electronics and in some baby products.

4. Perfluorinated Hydrocarbons

The fourth toxic chemical group in household dust includes the presence of the exceptionally harmful perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PBDEs are carcinogens and may cause thyroid disease, yet they are still used in waterproof outdoor clothing and tennis shoes.

Although researchers note that all of these substances are relatively harmless in small quantities, over a long period they can add to the risks of cancers, growth abnormalities and reproductive issues, among other health hazards. Particularly at risk are small children who play on the ground and thus come into direct contact with household dust.

Bio-Solution: Detritivores

Nature, as always, has biological solutions to our problems, provided we go about it the right way.

Like scavengers in the depths of the seas, on the ground, there are detritivores, insects (such as Silverfish) that feed on detritus, dead insects, starch, glue, paper – in a word, the sum of household dust.

Take Drexel University’s plaque-clearing nano-bots as an example. If we could re-engineer silverfish to remove the harmful chemicals from household dust, we may alleviate the presence of toxic chemicals in the household altogether.

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