If you haven’t picked up a duster in a while, here’s a good reason to.
A new study shows typical household dust can expose people to a wide range of potentially toxic chemicals. The research team included experts from Harvard University, and they found that 90% of the dust samples taken from homes in dozens of states contained harmful chemicals, including ones known to cause cancer and fertility problems.
The chemicals come from all sorts of common consumer goods, like furniture, personal hygiene products, flooring, baby products, cleaning supplies, fast food and food packaging. The chemicals are released into the air and seep into dust. Then, we all inhale or ingest those dust particles or absorb them through our skin.
In the dust samples tested, the most common chemical found was Phthalates, and there’s evidence linking that chemical to hormone-disruption, obesity and cancer cell growth.
The second most common chemical was a flame retardant, known to be cancer-causing and is frequently found in furniture, baby products and carpet padding. Another flame retardant was found in dust that can affect the reproductive and nervous systems.
So, what can we do? The Environmental Protection Agency says this is a wake-up call to wash your hands before eating, regularly vacuum floors, clean with a wet mop, and dust with a damp cloth to reduce household dust levels.