Toxic Chemicals in Household Dust
(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2005) A study of household dust from homes around the country found a wide range of toxic chemicals linked to damage to the immune and reproductive systems. The study, "Sick of Dust: Chemicals in Common Products -- a Needless Health Threat to our Homes," was released by the consumer advocacy group Clean Production Action. The study tested 70 homes in 7 different states for 44 chemicals. They found evidence 35 of them, providing fresh evidence of a potential pathway by which certain chemicals end up in people.
The 44 chemicals that the study looked for fell into six classes of chemicals that are common in consumer products: phthalates, pesticides, alkylphenols, brominated flame retardants, organotins and perfluorinated compounds. The chemicals are used in a wide array of consumer products, including cosmetics, detergents, vinyl flooring, computers, and upholstery--household goods many people assume are safe. All the chemicals tested are legal despite the fact that they have been shown to cause reproductive, respiratory and other health problems in humans or test animals. The most common pesticides that were found were: DDT, pentachlorophenol, permethrin, and piperonyl butoxide.
Babies and young children are particularly at risk from exposure, the report says. "Why take a chance with the lives of our children?" asked Beverley Thorpe, international director of Clean Production Action during a press conference to release the report. "Manufacturers and retailers need to stop using toxic chemicals which are building up in our bodies and switch to safer alternatives which are readily available," reported the Environmental News Service.
Clean Production Action, along with a coalition of 9 environmental groups that helped in the research, recommends an overhaul of federal chemical regulations parallel to the process taking place in Europe. "This study shows that the US federal regulatory system has failed in protecting people from exposure to hazardous chemicals including toxic flame retardants, pesticides,and hormone disrupting chemicals. Exposure to these chemicals is unnecessary and avoidable," states the executive summary of the report.
ACTION: Read the "Sick
of Dust Report" to learn more about the study. While many of
the toxic chemicals in the study impossible to avoid in everyday life,
you can choose to avoid pesticides. Beyond Pesticides offers
a plethora of non-toxic alternatives
to pesticides. Learn how you can protect your children and loved ones
from the effects of pesticides in your home, on your lawns, in schools,
in hospitals and other public places. See Beyond Pesticides Alternative
Fact Sheets, How-To Factsheets,
information on keeping pesticides out of schools,
information on organic food, and
any of our other available materials and publications.