Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

How to Reduce Exposure to Toxic Dust Inside Your House

Sure, dust in your house is annoying. But did you know it could be toxic?

One study by the Silent Spring Institute identified 67 hormone-disrupting compounds in household dust tests, including flame retardants, home-use pesticides and phthalates.

Industrial chemicals like flame retardants, pesticides and heavy metals lurk in dust bunnies. Photo credit:
Shutterstock

The chemicals in your dust originate from inside and outside your house. Products inside your house—such as furniture, electronics, shoes, plastics, fabrics and food—shed chemicals over time. Outdoor pollutants enter on shoes and through open and cracked windows and doors

Once inside, the contaminants in indoor dust degrade more slowly—if at all—than they would outside where moisture and sunlight typically break them down.

One type of toxic chemical commonly found in household dust is chemical flame retardants, also known as PBDEs. As highly flammable synthetic materials have replaced less-combustible natural materials, PBDEs have been added to thousands of everyday products, including computers, TVs and furniture, among many others. Environmental Working Group conducted tests that revealed the surprising degree to which flame-retardant chemicals escape from consumer products and settle in household dust.

Now, a new study shows that vinyl flooring could be joining the list of household products contributing to chemical-laced household dust. Large areas of vinyl flooring in daycares and schools appear to expose children to a group of compounds called phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive and developmental problems, according to a study published recently in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Phthalates, which increase the flexibility and durability of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), are key ingredients in PVC materials used in vinyl flooring and a wide range of other household products, including toys, food packaging and medical devices.

Like other chemicals found indoors, these additives leach out of products into the air and dust. This study is among the first to show what products were contributing to indoor phthalate levels.

Silent Spring Institute has some advice on how you can reduce your exposure:

  • Go natural. Select carpets, carpet pads, bedding, cushions and upholstered furniture made from naturally flame-resistant materials such as wool, polyester and hemp.
  • Repair ripped furniture. Flame retardants are added to polyurethane foam filling.
  • Keep down dust. Vacuum regularly with a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter. Wipe surfaces with a wet cloth or mop.
  • Wash hands frequently. Hand washing does more than prevent the spread of germs; it also reduces the amount of flame retardants entering our bodies. Remember to use regular soap and water instead of antibacterial soaps, which may contain endocrine disrupting chemicals.
  • Look for snug-fitting cotton sleepwear labeled as not flame-resistant. Sleepwear for children nine months and older is subject to flammability tests.
  • Get involvedAt the national level, Congress is considering the Safe Chemicals Act to make sure chemicals are tested for safety before going into use. 

Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH page for more related news on this topic. 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A grizzly bear sow with cub in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Danita Delimont / Gallo Images / Getty Images Plus

Grizzly bears in Wyoming and Idaho won't be subject to a trophy hunt thanks to a federal court decision Wednesday upholding endangered species protections for these iconic animals.

Read More Show Less
Oregano oil is an extract that is not as strong as the essential oil, but appears to be useful both when consumed or applied to the skin. Peakpx / CC by 1.0

By Alexandra Rowles

Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.

However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meets Ronaldo Caiado, governor of the state of Goiás on June 5, 2020. Palácio do Planalto / CC BY 2.0

Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has presided over the world's second worst coronavirus outbreak after the U.S., said Tuesday that he had tested positive for the virus.

Read More Show Less
Although natural gas produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, it is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Skitterphoto / PIxabay

By Emily Grubert

Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.

Read More Show Less
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as the first to effectively kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces, based on laboratory testing. Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a list of 431 products that are effective at killing viruses when they are on surfaces. Now, a good year for Lysol manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser just got better when the EPA said that two Lysol products are among the products that can kill the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveils the Green New Deal resolution in front of the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Judith Lewis Mernit

For all its posturing on climate change, the Democratic Party has long been weak on the actual policies we need to save us from extinction. President Barack Obama promised his presidency would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow," and then embraced natural gas, a major driver of global temperature rise, as a "bridge fuel." Climate legislation passed in the House in 2009 would have allowed industries to buy credits to pollute, a practice known to concentrate toxic air in black and brown neighborhoods while doing little to cut emissions.

Read More Show Less

Trending

About 30,000 claims contending that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are currently unsettled. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Bayer's $10 billion settlement to put an end to roughly 125,000 lawsuits against its popular weed killer Roundup, which contains glyphosate, hit a snag this week when a federal judge in San Francisco expressed skepticism over what rights future plaintiffs would have, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Read More Show Less