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Researchers find harmful substances in house dust
Are you one of those people who constantly clean and vacuum? However, many people are not so clean, they rarely dust their homes and the vacuum cleaner is also not often used. This could cause serious health problems. Researchers have now found that our house dust can contain up to 45 toxic chemicals.
Scientists at George Washington University found in an investigation that our house dust contains potentially dangerous chemicals and can cause health problems. The doctors released a press release on the results of their study.
How often do you vacuum?
When was the last time you dusted your house? Of course, your answer says a lot about your cleaning habits. But more importantly, the house dust that is not removed can cause serious health problems. So maybe you should pick up a duster or a vacuum cleaner and start cleaning.
Ten dangerous substances contained in 90 percent of house dust
George Washington University experts said they found 45 toxic chemicals in our house dust. Ten of the dangerous substances can be found in about 90 percent of all households. We tried to find out which chemicals are most common, the researchers say. Some of the chemicals were found in practically every dust sample, explains author Dr. Ami Zota. For her investigation, the doctor and her team analyzed all studies that had examined the interiors of houses and apartments in the United States since 2000. The presence of many potentially toxic chemicals could be determined. The scientists explain that two of the chemicals were found significantly more often than the rest.
Phthalates and flame retardants are the most common
Many of the ten most common chemicals fall into the categories of so-called phthalates and flame retardants, says Dr. Zota. These chemicals came from a number of things that can usually be found inside homes. The chemicals came from floor coverings, cosmetics, baby products, furniture and nail polish, for example.
Where can phthalates and flame retardants be found in the household?
To understand why these chemicals are found in our home, we need to consider what they are normally used for, says Dr. Phthalates make plastic softer and more flexible. For this reason, they are often found in materials with vinyl (PVC). For example, phthalates can be found in floors, blinds and food packaging. Flame retardants (fire retardants) help to reduce the flammability of objects. They are intended to limit the spread of fires.
Phenols, fluorinated chemicals and fragrances also contain chemicals
Other chemicals found were phenols. These are used as preservatives in personal care products like shampoo. Previous studies have already shown that many care products are contaminated with harmful chemicals. In addition, the new study often found fluorinated chemicals that are used to ward off rust and repel water, the experts say. In addition, fragrances contained various of the harmful chemicals.
Fragrances could contain many more harmful chemicals
Unfortunately, we still know very little about the danger from fragrances. Only one of the chemicals in perfumes was examined in the study. That could mean that many more of the chemicals could still be in the dust, says Dr. Zota.
How do the toxic substances get into our bodies?
How do we actually absorb such chemicals in our bodies? We can breathe in some of the substances, others are absorbed through the skin, for example. Phthalates were found in the highest concentrations in the study. But flame retardants contained chemicals that are most likely to penetrate our body, the researchers say. There are certainly other ways that harmful chemicals get into our bodies. For example, some time ago, studies found that fast-food foods often ingest industrial chemicals.
Children particularly at risk
One of the biggest concerns about the presence of these chemicals is due to the fact that children are most likely to inhale or swallow the substances. This is because they crawl a lot on the floor, touch everything and also inevitably put their hands in their mouths several times a day, the doctors say. Ingestion of the substances during early development can lead to long-term negative effects that persist over the entire lifespan, explains Dr. Zota.
Phthalates can cause reproductive problems
For example, phthalates can increase the risk of developing behavioral and nervous problems in children. In addition, phthalates also destroy hormones in the human body, the scientists say. This can lead to reproductive problems. In another study, doctors recently found that infertility can be caused by sun milk. The chemicals in the UV filter can damage sperm.
How can we reduce the exposure to toxic chemicals at home?
First, we should regularly remove the dust at home. The best thing we do is not use a feather duster, but a powerful vacuum cleaner with a particulate filter (HEPA = High Efficiency Particulate Air filter), the experts from the USA advise. In this way we can ensure that all dust particles are extracted. We should also wash our hands regularly because, for example, flame retardants can be found on the surfaces of furniture.
More research and stricter regulations are needed
However, we need much more research to better understand what chemicals we are exposed to at home. There must also be changes at the political level, the authors say. Bans must lead to better regulation of chemicals. There is a global hazard from toxic chemicals. The problem doesn't just affect people in the United States. The chemicals have also been detected in homes in the UK and other European countries, explains Dr. Because the European Union has different chemical regulations than the United States, the average level of some of the chemicals here could be different than in the United States. (as)