Monthly Archives: April 2017

Toxic Chemicals

Here is a further article on dust and chemicals that are found in your home that are potentially harmful.  I hope you find it informative.

Toxic chemicals are hiding in your house dust

When was the last time you dusted your house?

Your answer could reveal a lot about your home habits, but the findings of a new study might have everyone upping their game — and potentially keeping wet wipes and hand sanitizer nearby at all times.
Researchers at George Washington University say 45 toxic chemicals are found commonly in your house dust, with 10 of them lurking in 90% of homes across the country.
“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 who led the study. “Some chemicals were in virtually every dust sample.”
To reveal which potential toxins we’re being exposed to in the comfort of our own homes, Zota’s team analyzed all studies that have sampled indoor environments in the United States since 2000. They looked for the presence of potentially toxic chemicals and divided them into five classes of chemicals, two of which were found to be more common than the rest: phthalates and flame retardants.
“Many of the top 10 fall into these two categories,” Zota said.
But when factoring in the wide range of chemicals we’re exposed to, small amounts can add up, she stressed.

Lurking in the dust

The chemicals found in dust samples came from a range of things typically found inside your home, including vinyl products — such as flooring — cosmetics, baby products, furniture and nail polish.
To understand how these chemicals are entering your home, it helps to understand where they are used. Phthalates make plastic softer and more flexible, so they tend to be found in vinyl (PVC) materials such as flooring, blinds and food packaging. Flame retardants help products meet flammability standards that are built into building codes, insurance requirements and fire regulations.
The other three classes of chemicals found in dust samples included environmental phenols, usually used as preservatives in personal care products like shampoo; fluorinated chemicals, used as stain- and water-repellent treatments for upholstery, carpets and clothes and in nonstick pans; and fragrances.
Only one chemical used in fragrances had been the topic of a study, meaning many more chemicals are likely to be present in dust with little insight into them, according to the researchers. “We know very little about the health hazard of these fragrances,” said Zota.
But the researchers note that it is about more than exposure. For example, phthalates were detected in the highest concentrations in the study, but the chemicals found in flame retardants had the “highest estimated intake,” meaning they are more likely to enter the body.
“You can breathe it in and can absorb into your skin,” Zota said. “These chemicals are not bound to the products, so they can migrate out.”

A risk to child development

One of the biggest concerns underlying the presence of these chemicals hiding in house dust is the fact that children are most likely to inhale or ingest them as they crawl around, touching things and inevitably placing their hands in their mouths multiple times a day.
“Environmental insults during early development can have long-lasting adverse health effects that persist across the lifespan,” Zota said. Phthalate exposure in children “can increase risk of respiratory, behavioral and neurodevelopmental problems.”
Phthalates are also known to disrupt hormones inside the body, meaning they could cause reproductive problems.
“We know from lead that exposures are not acceptable,” said Dr. Asa Bradman, associate director for exposure assessment at the Center for Environmental Research and Child’s Health at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the new study.
“There’s a strong argument to reduce exposure to children whose brains are changing and bodies are developing.”
As for the study findings, Bradman noted that the reason phthalates were found to be most common in house dust was probably because most studies have been done on this class of chemicals.
“By compiling information in this way, there’s always the possibility of exposures that haven’t been studied yet,” Bradman said.

Preventing exposure

Some advice to prevent exposure, other than regularly dusting your home, is to veer away from the traditional feather duster and use a powerful vacuum with a HEPA filter to ensure that all dust particles are sucked up. Regular hand-washing — which has a multitude of benefits — will also reduce exposure to flame retardants found on the surfaces of furniture.
The Silent Spring Institute has created an app to help people understand more about their environmental exposures, aptly named Detox Me.
But both Zota and Bradman stress that there needs to be more research into the range of chemicals people are exposed to at home and changes at the policy level to reduce the number of chemicals entering people’s households, through bans, better regulation and improved underlying chemistry during production.
“There may be chemicals out there that we don’t know about, that we should know about,” said Bradman, whose own research looks into exposure risks, particularly among children. His studies have found phthalates to be common in child care practices in the United States.
“But we can also reformulate materials so that chemicals don’t just go into our bodies,” he added. “There may be ways to have better adhesion [of flame retardants to furnishings] so they don’t get into the environment.”
The issue is also not specific to the United States.
“These consumer product chemicals are widely used throughout the globe and have been detected in homes in the UK and other European countries,” Zota said, adding, “since the European Union has different chemical regulations than the US, the average levels for some of the chemicals may be different than those we found for US homes.”
Visit the CNN site and see what house plants can help to clear the air in your home!
Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Toxic dust at home

Our homes hold a lot of dust and much of that can be harmful to our health.  Here are a few articles that you might find beneficial.

Toxic chemicals in household dust linked to cancer and infertility

Scientists find scores of harmful chemicals in indoor dust including phthalates linked to developmental problems in babies

Household dust harbours a cocktail of toxic chemicals that have been linked to an increased risk of a range of health hazards, from cancer to problems with fertility, researchers in the US have found.

The chemicals are shed from a host of common products, from flooring to electrical goods as well as beauty and cleaning products.

“We think our homes are a safe haven but unfortunately they are being polluted by toxic chemicals from all our products,” said Veena Singla, co-author of the study from the Natural Resources Defense Council in California.

The scientists cautioned that children were particularly vulnerable to the health effects of contaminated dust as they often play or crawl on the floor and frequently touch their mouths. “They end up having a lot more exposure to chemicals in dust and they are more vulnerable to toxic effects because their brains and bodies are still developing,” said Singla.

Writing in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, Singla and colleagues described how they analysed 26 peer-reviewed papers, as well as one unpublished dataset, from 1999 onwards to examine the chemical make-up of indoor dust. The studies covered a wide range of indoor environments, from homes to schools and gymnasiums across 14 states.

“What emerged was a rather disturbing picture of many different toxic chemicals from our products that are present in dust in the home and [are] contaminating the home,” said Singla.

While, perhaps confusingly, homes that are too clean have been linked to an increase in allergies and asthma in children, potentially due to a lack of exposure to various microbes, the presence of toxic chemicals in dust raises separate concerns.

The researchers highlighted 45 toxic chemicals in indoor dust, 10 of which were present in 90% or more of the dust samples – these included flame retardants, fragrances and phenols.

Among them is the flame retardant TDCIPP that is known to be cancer-causing and is frequently found in furniture foam, baby products and carpet padding, as is TPHP, another flame retardant in the top 10 list that can affect the reproductive and nervous systems.

“They are just a bunch of letters – a lot of people might not recognise what those chemicals are, or what they mean, but they are really a number of bad actor chemicals,” said Singla.

Other toxic substances found in almost all of the dust samples include chemicals known as phthalates that are often found in vinyl flooring, food packaging, personal care products and have been linked to developmental problems in babies, hormone disruption, and are also thought to affect the reproductive system.

While some chemicals on the list have been banned from use in childcare products, or are being more widely phased out, Singla says many remain widespread in the home. “Especially for building materials there is not as much turnover of a lot of those products, like flooring,” she said, adding: “Unfortunately even though some of these phthalates have been banned from kids products, they are not banned from other kinds of products.”

In a separate, unpublished, analysis, Singla compared the levels of chemicals found in household dust with soil screening levels used by the Environmental Protection Agency in the US. “What we found – and we were shocked by it actually – is that the dust levels exceed those EPA screening levels for a number of the chemicals and again it is the phthalates and flame retardant chemicals that are standing out as the bad offenders here,” said Singla.

But, she adds, there are steps that can be taken to reduce exposure to contaminated dust. As well as vacuuming floors, hands should be washed with plain soap and water before eating, while cleaning with a wet mop and dusting with a damp cloth can help to reduce household dust levels.

While a wider policy change on the use of toxic chemicals is needed, Singla added, consumers could also take action by making careful choices about the products they buy. “It is really important for companies and regulators to get the message that people care about this and want and need safer products for their families.”

Stuart Harrad, professor of environmental chemistry at the University of Birmingham, said the research backed up previous work on the hazards of indoor pollutants.

“This review of evidence for the presence of consumer chemicals in indoor dust from the US confirms the substantial evidence for the presence of the same chemicals in dust from UK cars, homes, and offices, as well as school and nursery classrooms,” he said. “This is pertinent as we and others believe the presence of these chemicals in consumer articles and dust leads to their presence in human milk and blood.”

Stephen Holgate, clinical professor of immunopharmacology at Southampton general hospital, described the research as important. He said though the study was US-based, the findings were also relevant in the UK.

The review, he added, showed “what we all have suspected – namely indoor exposure to household chemical and personal products accumulate in house dust, which serves as a Trojan horse when inhaled carrying these chemicals into the body”.

Holgate raised concerns over the findings that high levels of phthalates and replacement flame retardants appear to be ubiquitous, given their health impacts. Together with evidence from other studies, “there is an urgent need to consider the indoor environment as a crucial source of chemical pollutant exposure”, he said.

Source from The Guardian

Toxic Dust: The Dangerous Chemical Brew in Every Home

As I was frantically cleaning my apartment last month in preparation for a visit from my parents, I paused for a moment to stare at the dark smudge on the damp cloth I was dusting with. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that little dust smudge contains a whole universe of toxic chemicals—chemicals that pollute the globe and build up in wildlife and humans, that can cause cancer, or are linked to birth defects in babies.

Never, that is, until I collaborated on a new study to put together all the data we have on chemicals in U.S. indoor dust with scientists from George Washington University, Silent Spring Institute, Harvard University, and University of California–San Francisco. Dust is the common congregation place for all kinds of chemicals that migrate out of everyday products in our homes—flooring, furniture, personal care products, cleaning products, and myriad others. So our idea was that by looking at dust, as well as the individual chemicals in dust, we could reveal the bigger picture of chemical contamination in the home—just like individual dots in an Impressionist painting create a larger image. And what we found paints a disturbing picture of what’s really inside home sweet home across America.

The dust in U.S. homes is chock-full of hazardous chemicals from our products—phthalates, flame retardants, and other toxic chemicals are unwelcome visitors in each and every one of our homes. Even worse, the chemicals don’t stop there: They can waltz right into our bodies when we breathe contaminated air or dust, touch contaminated dust, and accidentally get dust in our mouths from our hands. These chemicals pose health hazards including cancer, hormone disruption, and toxicity to the reproductive system.

We looked at each chemical in household dust from three different angles: how much is in the dust, how much gets into us, and what the health hazards are. But no matter which way we looked at it, phthalate and flame-retardant chemicals stood out as top offenders. They’re found at higher levels, have higher estimated intakes for kids, and are linked to multiple health hazards.

Phthalates are used in numerous plastic and vinyl materials, as well as personal care products and cleaning products. Flame retardants are chemicals found in furniture, electronics, and building insulation. These products all shed phthalates and flame retardants into dust.

To better understand how risky these chemicals in dust might be, we completed an additional analysis separately from the published study. Unfortunately there are not standards established for chemicals in household dust, so we looked for something else we could compare to. Because exposure to dust is a lot like exposure to soil, we used soil-screening levels established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for sites contaminated with chemicals as a comparison. These soil-screening numbers reflect the levels at which a chemical might pose health risks to people, and thus exceedances require further investigation. The EPA calculates two different numbers, one for cancer health risks and another for non-cancer health risks, such as developmental or reproductive toxicity. Note that many chemicals in our study do not have soil-screening levels established, but we did the comparison for the ones that did.

The graphs show the average dust concentration we calculated in our study by pooling data from individual studies (circle), the highest (maximum) level of the chemical found in each individual study (triangle), and the EPA screening level (black line). Shockingly, the levels of some phthalates and flame retardants in U.S. house dust exceeded the EPA’s screening numbers (shown in red).

For the phthalate DEHP, average levels in dust exceeded EPA screening levels—for both cancer and non-cancer effects. DEHP is also ubiquitous in U.S. homes, as studies that tested for it found it in 100 percent of dust samples. This means that if an EPA site manager tested the dust in a typical living room, they would be concerned about the level of DEHP found there!

For the phthalate BBP and the flame retardants TDCIPP, TCIPP, and TCEP, the average level in dust does not exceed the soil-screening level (though it comes close for TDCIPP cancer risks). But as the “highest concentration in dust” data points show, levels in some homes are much higher than the average, sometimes by an order of magnitude or more.

Exceedance of the EPA screening levels for this portion of the population is a concern. Higher levels of phthalates or flame retardants in indoor dust may be linked to the presence of particular products (like vinyl flooring for phthalates or baby products for flame retardants) and/or particular building characteristics, like ventilation rate.

It’s also important to note that our comparison only considers the amount of chemical in dust in the home, but in reality, people’s exposures are almost certainly higher because we come into contact with these chemicals from many other sources, including the food we eat, products we use, and other places we spend time.

Products with these chemicals don’t belong in our homes; hazardous chemicals linked to adverse health effects should be removed and replaced with safer alternatives. With recent reforms to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA finally has the opportunity to start protecting the public from toxic chemicals. We’re working hard to stand up to the chemical industry and ensure strong implementation of the new law.

In the meantime, there are a number of steps you can take to protect your families from toxic dust, including:

  • Remove dust from your hands. Wash your hands and your children’s hands frequently, and always before eating. Use plain soap and water, avoiding fragranced and antibacterial soaps.
  • Keep household dust to a minimum. Dust with a damp cloth, regularly go over floors with a wet mop, and use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
  • Use the Silent Spring Detox Me app. This free smartphone app walks you through simple, research-based tips on how to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals where you live and work, and it keeps track of your progress.

And please take action now on phthalates. Urge the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to protect kids and families from the dangers of phthalates by banning these hazardous chemicals from food, toys, and other children’s products.

Article found at NRDC

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Snow and sand erosion explained

Snow and sand erosion explained

Scientists at EPFL and SLF describe with precision how snow and sand surfaces erode when exposed to wind. Their description can contribute to better predictions of dust emissions from deserts and snow transport in Antarctica, and can be adapted to other planets.

Wind and water transport a multitude of particles with them, leading to erosion or deposits, like dust emissions from the Saharan desert that can reach Europe and snow transport that can… block traffic.

Francesco Comola and Michael Lehning from EPFL and SLF accurately describe how wind flow affects a generic surface of non-homogeneous particles, like snow or sand, using a new theory that will one day help improve weather predictions. The results are now available in Vol. 44, No. 3 of Geophysical Research Letters.

Descriptions of wind or water transport already exist, but this is the first time that fundamental laws – Newton’s second law and energy conservation – are used to describe how particles are ejected from a bed of particles.

“It is a milestone since it is astonishing that the particle ejection process has never been described thus far by using the fundamental conservation laws,” says Lehning, “at least not for a wide range of sediments from heterogeneous sand to snow.”

The new theory is powerful enough so that they can statistically predict the number of particles ejected from the surface of the particle bed and lifted into the flow, even for varying particle sizes and varying material or flow properties.

The theory can be seen as a generalization of how billiard balls are scattered by the white ball during that first hit. But in many ways, the billiard table is a trivial case compared to beds of particles in nature. Instead of having a bed of only 15 billiard balls, the model can handle large numbers of particles and therefore be applied to vast areas on Earth or other planets. Instead of having only one white ball, there can be many incident particles. Instead of having billiard balls all of the same shape and size, the particles can be a mix of shapes and sizes like what we see in a handful of sand or snow. Instead of billiard balls that neither attract nor repulse each other, the particles can be sticky due to cohesive forces, like wet sand or humid snow.

The scientists believe that their new model will advance the study of dune and ripple development, both in arid and polar regions. It will also contribute to improve predictions of dust emissions from deserts and snow transport in Antarctica, whose effects extend from global health to weather and climate change. The model can also help find the cause of the intense sand transport activity observed on Mars, where the low density of the atmosphere would suggest that winds are not sufficiently strong to erode surface particles.

Read more at: PhysOrg

Clearing the polar air on cosmic dust

By developing several innovative experimental systems, EU-funded researchers now have a better indication of how much cosmic dust enters the Earth’s atmosphere and what impact it has.

Our solar system is a dust-filled place. As comets travel around their orbits and near the sun they begin to evaporate, leaving a trail of cosmic dust in their wake. These dust particles then enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a very high speed – anywhere in the range of 40 000 to 260 000 kph – where they collide with air molecules. This collision then causes flash heating and a subsequent melting and evaporation of the particles.

‘Sometimes this dust is visible as meteors, which is the case of dust particles greater than 2 mm,’ says CODITA Project Lead John Plane. ‘But most of the dust mass entering the atmosphere is so small that it can only be observed using specialised meteor radars.’ More so, Plane says that even though we know the dust is there, there is little indication of how much cosmic dust enters the Earth’s atmosphere – the range of estimates being between 3 and 300 tons a day – and what impact it has.

Clearing the air

The CODITA project is working to clear the air on this question. To accomplish this, the project launched two successful experimental systems to study the chemistry of the metallic molecules and ions produced from evaporating meteors. According to Plane, the first system detected the metallic molecules using a flow tube reactor, coupled to a time-of-flight mass spectrometer. The system uses pulsed laser radiation to softly ionise the metallic molecules. ‘For the first time we were able to successfully study the reactions of such metallic species as metal oxides and hydroxides, which have proved undetectable by other methods,’ says Plane.

The second experiment also used a flow tube, this time with a plasma source and coupled to a quadrupole mass spectrometer. ‘With this system we can study the dissociative recombination of metal-containing ions with electrons, which is the main route for neutralising ions found in the upper atmosphere,’ adds Plane.

A polar dust bin

These experiments – combined with an astronomical model of dust evolution in the solar system and high performance radar measurements – show that around 40 tons of cosmic dust enters Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis.

But so what? Sure, our atmosphere may look like it needs a good dusting, but what’s the effect? According to the CODITA project, quite a lot: ‘The metals being injected into the atmosphere from evaporating dust particles are the direct or indirect cause of an array of phenomena,’ says Plane.

For example, the metals condense into very fine dust known as meteoric smoke, which plays a role in the formation of noctilucent clouds. These ice clouds occur in the polar regions at a height of 82 km during the summer months. ‘The clouds first appeared in 1886, and their increasing occurrence appears to be signal of climate change in the middle atmosphere, where water vapour is increasing and temperatures are falling because of increased levels of greenhouse gas – the reverse of the lower atmosphere,’ says Plane. ‘Meteoric smoke also affects polar stratospheric clouds that cause depletion of the ozone layer, and the deposition of cosmic iron in the Southern Ocean provides a critical nutrient for plankton, which draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.’

Now, thanks to the work done by the CODITA project, it is possible to model the effects of cosmic dust on a consistent basis and from the outer solar system all the way to the Earth’s surface. But the project’s scope isn’t limited to Earth. To further understand the effects of cosmic dust on a planet’s atmosphere, the project also explores the impacts of meteoric smoke in other solar system bodies, including high temperature chemistry on Venus, the formation of noctilucent clouds on Mars, and production of benzene on Titan.
Read more at: PhysOrg

I trust you have enjoyed the read!  Have a great day!

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Dust Particles

Here are a couple of good articles on dust particles –

Airborne Dust Particles

Airborne dust is particle, or Particulate Matter (PM), pollution, and is one of the most significant air pollutants in Pima County. PM is made up of tiny solid particles or liquid droplets (a fraction of the thickness of a human hair) that float in the air we breathe. Because they are so small, you cannot see individual particles, but you can sometimes see the haze that is formed when millions of particles blur the spread of sunlight.

Hazards Of Airborne Dust Particles

Any type of earth-moving activity or combustion can produce excessive amounts of particles in the air, whether it be from businesses, industry, or individuals.

Examples of the types of dust found in the work environment include:

  • mineral dusts, such as those containing free crystalline silica (e.g., as quartz), coal and cement dusts;
  • metallic dusts, such as lead, cadmium, nickel, and beryllium dusts;
  • other chemical dusts, e.g., many bulk chemicals and pesticides:
  • organic and vegetable dusts, such as flour, wood, cotton and tea dusts, pollens;
  • biohazards, such as viable particles, moulds and spores

    Dusts are generated not only by work processes, but may also occur naturally, e.g., pollens, volcanic ashes, and sandstorms.

Sources: Where Does It Come From

Airborne Dust Particles can come from pretty much anywhere, any movement or activity can cause a large amount of excess particles in the air.

  • Disturbed vacant or open lands
  • Construction and mining activity
  • Landscaping maintenance activity
  • Industrial sources
  • Fires: fireplace, camp, forest

– Charcoal or wood-burning barbecues – Off-road vehicle activity
– Unpaved and paved roads, parking lots – Diesel exhaust

How Airborne Dust Particles Travel The Earth

Airborne Dust Particles can travel through various sources such as soil being lifted up by weather (an Aeolian process), volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust comes from arid and dry regions where high velocity winds are able to remove mostly silt-sized material. This includes ares where grazing, ploughing, vehicle use and other human activities have furthered the destabilized the land. Dust in the atmosphere is produced by saltation and sandblasting of sand-sized grains, and it is transported through the troposphere. The airborne dust is considered an aerosol and once in the atmosphere, it can produce strong local radiative forcing.


Airborne Dust Particles contaminates the biosphere through inhalation by humans and animals, and can also effect crops growing in an area with large amounts of dust particles. When inhaled, the fibers are deposited in air passages and on lung cells.

Impacts On Human Health

Particles can be so small that they pass through the nasal passage and travel to the deepest parts of the lungs and cause damage. To compound the problem, toxic and cancer-causing chemicals can attach themselves to PM yielding much more profound effects. The tiniest of particles can even pass into the bloodstream through the lungs. People most at risk from breathing particle pollution are children, the elderly, and people with respiratory or heart disease. Healthy people can be affected as well, especially outdoor exercisers. Effects of breathing PM for hours, days, or years include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Respiratory pain
  • Diminished lung function
  • Weakened immune systems
  • Increased hospitalization

    pneumonia, asthma, and emphysema – Heart attacks and strokes
    – Premature death (1-8 years)

Prevention or Mitigation

There are many methods that may be used to control airborne dust.

  • Limit campfire and fireplace use
  • Avoid driving on silty or powdering soils
  • Prevent motor vehicle trespassing
  • Water at sufficient quantity, frequency, and depth before, during, and after activity (Construction and Mining)

Resourced from – Teach The Earth

Dust Particles Are Probably Quite Toxic

If you are like most Americans, you spend up to 90 percent of your day indoors. Whether you’re at home, in the car or at work, your hours are spent breathing indoor air.

Since your very life depends upon the air you breathe, it is vital you understand the risks associated with your indoor air quality and how to reduce the chemicals in your environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states the levels of indoor air pollution may be between two and five times higher inside your home or work than they are outside.1 Some indoor pollutants can be as much as 100 times more concentrated than outdoor levels.

The differences are related to the type of pollutants, the relative lack of air exchange in newer homes and the chemicals you may introduce to your home in your furniture, personal care, home and cleaning products. According to the EPA, poor air quality is one of the top public health risks today.

While these factors are important to your health, dust plays another important role in your air quality. Recent research has identified chemical pollutants residing in the dust floating in the air and in the dust bunnies under your furniture.

Dust Is More Than Dirt

Dust is anything that breaks down into small enough particles that it can be moved by air currents outside or in your home. The dust in your home is actually a combination of dust and dirt from outside, combined with skin cells, pet dander and a number of other particles that vary from home to home.

Tiny fibers from your clothing, lint that flakes from your carpet and furniture, skin cells, fibers of human and pet hair and a number of other small particles may be found floating around your home or stuck under your furniture. The composition of dust may be complex and contain more than small particles of lint and dirt.

Paloma Beamer, Ph.D., associate professor in the school of Public Health at the University of Arizona, has spent years thinking about and studying dust. She calculates one-third of the dust in your home comes from indoor inorganic sources and two-thirds from soil and outdoor air particles tracked into your home.

The composition of dust is complex, and so is the composition of one particle. According to Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., who teaches courses in air pollution at Clarkson University in New York, a dust particle can be a simple inorganic or organic compound, but others may have an inorganic center and an organic coating.

In other words, even those little specks of dust can be complicated. Without removal, dust can stick around for a very long time. In fact, quoted in NPR, Ferro says:

“We’re finding things like [the pesticide] DDT in many floor dust samples. We banned that decades ago, but it’s still there.”

There Is More Than You Think in Your Dust

You might find it hard to get really worked up about the dust in your home. After all, we do call those clumps under the furniture bunnies and not dust rats. You may have considered them more of a nuisance than a health problem.

However, recent research evaluating data from 25 prior studies finds there’s more in those little bunnies than meets the eye.

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study adds to a growing body of research demonstrating the dangers you are exposed to in your own home and workplace.

The chemicals residing in your dust may come from a variety of different sources, from toys and cosmetics to your shower curtain, furniture and cookware.

This study found two classes of chemicals present in high concentrations in your dust. The first is phthalates. These chemicals are commonly found and released from personal care products, such as nail polish, skin creams and lotions, perfumes, hair products and deodorants.

Exposure has been linked to endocrine system disruption, decreased IQ and respiratory problems. These are all health conditions that affect children more quickly, making the inclusion of phthalates in children’s products even more disturbing.

The second class of chemicals is highly fluorinated chemicals (HFCs). These have been associated with testicular and kidney cancers and found in everyday common objects from pizza boxes to cell phones. Your home keeps a history of chemicals and other pollutants collecting in your dust. Beamer, quoted in Time Magazine, said:

“Dust in our homes, especially deep dust in our carpets and furniture, is a conglomerate of substances over the life of the home and can provide a historical record of chemicals that have entered it.”

Breathing and Eating Tiny Dust Particles Increases Your Health Risk

If you live in a highly industrialized area, you may have something unique in your dust. In this short video, one researcher from Lancaster University explains the results of a study finding millions of magnetite nanoparticles in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists believe since these nanoparticles are so small, they easily travel over the olfactory nerve to the brain as you breathe them in. These particles create chaos in your brain as they are bioreactive and directly associated with damage seen in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s.

In the brain, magnetite nanoparticles create reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals. These free radicals create oxidative damage to brain cells, a hallmark feature in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In this study, 37 brains of people aged 3 to 92 were studied.

Researchers found millions of nanoparticles per gram of freeze-dried brain tissue, an amount lead researcher Barbara Maher, called “extraordinary.”

Another study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology reviewed 26 past studies, finding a large quantity of phthalates, phenols and flame retardant chemicals in dust particles.

The concentration in these studies were so high researchers believe you likely inadvertently breathe and eat the particles laden with chemicals.

In this study, 90 percent of the homes had the 10 most common chemicals, which suggests the chemicals originate from items commonly found in your home. The chemical found in most homes was phthalates, commonly found in flexible plastics, personal care products and cosmetics.

But the Dust Doesn’t Stop There

Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University compiled information from past studies, government agencies and other expert bodies and identified 45 different chemicals commonly found in homes.

These chemicals were associated with health hazards such as cancer, reproductive toxicity and endocrine disruption.

The researchers pointed out that most studies evaluated the health hazards of a single toxic chemical, but finding these chemicals in combination in the dust of your home presents a potentially greater risk and needs further research.

The researchers acknowledged that the dust they studied was generally from the east and west coasts of the U.S. and therefore not nationally representative.

Dust in your home contains more than chemicals that are toxic to your body. Riding along on those dust bunnies are a variety of microbes. In one study evaluating dust in approximately 1,200 homes located across the U.S., indoor and outdoor dust samples demonstrated a broad range of different microbes. Differences appeared to be greater for bacteria than for fungi.

The distribution of allergens were predictable across climates, but indoor bacterial communities appeared to be more significantly influenced by the occupants than the geography. Factors such as the male-to-female ratio and whether there were pets had a strong influence on the types of bacteria living in the dust.

However, while the variety of bacteria was different, each home had an average of more than 5,000 species of bacteria and 2,000 species of fungi.  Although your dust may harbor thousands of different bacteria, this isn’t necessarily what makes you sick. Many of these bacteria are harmless, but the chemical and other pollutants that hitch a ride on dust particles decidedly are not.

Tips to Reduce Your Risk

One the best ways to reduce your risk of exposure is to reduce your risks at home where you spend the majority of your indoor time. Top tips to reduce chemical exposure and risk from dust accumulation include:

Eat Organic Meats and Raw Produce

As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic meats to reduce your exposure to added hormones, pesticides and fertilizers. Also avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).

Eat mostly raw, fresh foods. Processed, prepackaged foods (of all kinds) are a common source of chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates.

Eat Wild-Caught Salmon or Purified Krill Oil

Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality purified krill oil, eat smaller fish or fish that are wild-caught and lab tested for purity. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon, herring and sardines are about the only fish I eat for these reasons.

Buy and Store Food in Glass Containers

Buy products that come in glass bottles or jars rather than plastic or cans, since chemicals can leach out of plastics and the linings of cans and into the contents. Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap. Use glass baby bottles and avoid plastic sippy cups for your little ones.

Cook With Ceramic or Glass

Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.

Use Clean Water

Filter your tap water — both for drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants. To remove the endocrine-disrupting herbicide Atrazine, make sure the filter is certified to remove it.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), perchlorate can be filtered out using a reverse osmosis filter.

Use Earth-Friendly Products, No Plastics

Look for products that are made by companies that are earth-friendly, animal-friendly, green, non-toxic and/or 100 percent organic. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, upholstery and more. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric.

Vacuum and Dust Regularly

Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove house dust, which is often contaminated with traces of chemicals. Wet mop your hard floors regularly, which will prevent dust from accumulating. Wipe furniture with a wet or microfiber cloth.

The small fibers of a microfiber cloth cause the dust to cling to it, while a wet cloth will attract and hold dust better than a dry one. Avoid chemical dusting sprays, which will only add to your home’s chemical load.

Damp dust your electronics frequently; these are a common source of flame-retardant chemicals in your dust. Use high-quality filters in your forced-air heating or cooling system and change them frequently. Caulk and seal cracks and crevices where dust might otherwise accumulate. Wash your hands before eating to remove dust from your hands and reduce the potential of ingestion.

Use Furniture and Clothing Without Fire Retardants or Stain Resistance

When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses or carpet padding, ask what type of fire retardant they contain. Be mindful of and/or avoid items containing PBDEs, antimony, formaldehyde, boric acid and other brominated chemicals.

As you replace these toxic items around your home, select those that contain naturally less flammable materials such as leather, wool and organic cotton. Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).

Protect Your Children

Minimize your use of plastic baby and child toys, opting for those made of natural wood or fabric instead. Pay special attention to dusting areas where young children crawl, sit and play.

Use Natural Cleaning Products

Only use natural cleaning products or make your own. Avoid products that contain 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can damage fertility and cause fetal harm.

Use Safe Personal Care Products

Switch to organic brands of toiletries for shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. You can replace many different products with coconut oil and baking soda, for example. EWG has a great database to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.

I also offer one of the highest quality organic skin care lines, shampoo and conditioner, and body butter that are completely natural and safe. Replace feminine hygiene products such as tampons and sanitary pads with safer alternatives.

Go Fragrance-Free

Look for products that are fragrance-free. One artificial fragrance can contain a dozen or more potentially toxic chemicals. Avoid artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances.

Download a Helpful App

Milken Institute of Public Health recommends trying the Silent Spring Detox Me app available at This free app shares simple tips to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals at home and at work.

Article sourced from Mercola

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.