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Warning: House Dust Contains Toxic Chemicals

Sep 16, 2016 04:48 AM EDT

A new study revealed that the accumulated particles in houses and indoor places contain a lot of toxic chemicals that may cause myriad of health problems after long-term exposure.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, found that there are about 45 chemicals in house dusts, including flame retardants and phthalates. These chemicals are linked to serious illnesses such as asthma and cancer. Additionally, flame retardant and phthalates have been linked to hormonal disruptions, reproductive problems and developmental disorders.

"We wanted to identify which chemicals were present at the highest exposure in homes," said Dr. Ami Zota, an assistant professor of environmental occupational health and lead author of the study, in a report from CNN. "Some chemicals were in virtually every dust sample."

For the study, researchers analyzed the data from previous studies that measured accumulated indoor dusts in the United States since 2000. Their analysis revealed that about 45 chemicals present in the samples collected across 14 states. Out of those chemicals, 10 were present in 90 percent of the homes in the country.

The researchers then divided the potentially toxic chemicals into five categories: phthalates; flame retardants; phenols; fluorinated chemicals; and fragrances.

Among the five categories, the most common in house dusts were phthalates and flame retardants. Phthalates are used to make plastic softer and more flexible, making them common in vinyl materials such as floorings, binds and food packaging.

On the other hand, flame retardants have been used in different products, such as furniture, to meet flammability standards in building codes.

Exposure to phthalates and flame retardants has been linked to hormonal disruptions, leading to reproductive and developmental problems. Additionally, these chemicals are also believed to increase the risk respiratory, behavioral and neurodevelopmental problems in children.

With their findings researchers recommend daily cleaning to avoid potential buildup of dusts. Additionally, the researchers noted that it is better to use vacuum cleaners to suck the dust instead of using regular dusters that could spread the chemicals into the air. Regular hand washing is still the best way to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals.

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