Do you realize the dust in your home is probably toxic? The Silent Spring Institute, dedicated to researching the effects of toxic chemicals on health, recently conducted a study testing the presence of 45 synthetic chemicals in household dust. There were 10 chemicals that were present in 90% of the samples tested. This suggests toxic household dust is everywhere.
I was fortunate to be able to interview one of the scientists from the study and I’d like to share some of the highlights of our time together.
Robin Dodson is a research scientist that specializes in chemical exposure and risk assessment. Robin and her colleagues found that there are a wide range of toxic chemicals in our household dust. This may be the reason why our homes are considered more polluted than outdoor air.
Robin explained that the chemicals in our homes are interacting with the dust. The dust actually becomes a reservoir for the chemicals. The dust shows the scientists a snapshot of the toxins that are in a home.
Of those 10 pervasive chemicals, Robin and her team identified two as the worst. Phthalates, which are considered hormone disruptors, were found in every sample – the worst offenders. Phthalates can be found in plastic toys, vinyl and the fragrances in household cleaning and personal care products. By law, the formulas of these fragrance components are considered “trade secrets” and manufacturers are not required to disclose such ingredients on package labeling. This makes it extremely hard for consumers to really know what’s in any given product that has a fragrance.
Phenols, chemicals found in cleaning products, were the second biggest offenders. Phenols are used in synthetic fragrances found in cleaning products, body care products and perfumes. They are considered hormone disruptors.
The takeaway is that the scents we smell after using a cleaning product do not disappear. They are still in our homes even after their scent goes away.
Body care product manufacturers are required to list their product ingredients on the package label. But unfortunately, cleaning product manufacturers do not have to list their ingredients so you MUST do research if you want to find out what they are using in their products.
Children suffer the most from exposure to these chemicals. Their bodies are still developing and their exposures are proportionately higher doses than adults due to their small size. Children also spend a lot of time on the floor, commonly putting their hands in their mouths. Therefore they are ingesting toxic household dust! Pets are also at risk, spending a lot of time on the floor and exploring their environment with their noses and mouths.
There are some simple solutions to removing toxic household dust from your home. Vacuuming often with a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner is one simple solution. The other is to have your children wash their hands often. And finally, try to avoid products that contain synthetic chemicals, especially fragrances.
Silent Spring Institute has a free app, called Detox Me that will help you think differently about the chemical load you may have in your home. Their app shows you where there may be a problem in your home and gives you alternatives.
Listen to the full interview here.