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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

GW Study Finds Potentially Harmful Chemicals in Household Dust

A recent study led by Dr. Ami Zota, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University (GW), reports that household dust exposes people to a wide range of toxic chemicals found in everyday products. The multi-institutional team conducted a first-of-a-kind meta-analysis, compiling data from dust samples collected throughout the U.S. to identify the top ten toxic chemicals commonly found in dust. They found that DEHP, a chemical belonging to a hazardous class called phthalates, was number one on that list. In addition, the researchers found that phthalates overall were found at the highest levels in dust followed by phenols and flame retardant chemicals.

Chemicals in Dust

[Photo credit: Mr. Matthew Golden]

Chemicals from consumer products are released into the air and get into dust, which can settle on household items or on the floor. People can inhale or ingest small particles of dust or even absorb them through the skin. Infants and young children are particularly at risk for exposure to the chemicals found in dust because they crawl, play on dusty floors, and put their hands in their mouths, the authors say.

Dr. Zota and colleagues pooled data from 26 peer-reviewed papers and one unpublished data set that analyzed dust samples taken from homes in 14 states.

The meta-analysis, “Consumer product chemicals in indoor dust: a quantitative meta-analysis of U.S. studies,” appeared September 14 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Read more about the study.