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‘How children are exposed to toxic chemicals daily’




Children, especially infants, are at significant risk of exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in dust while playing and crawling on the floor.

According to the research led by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., United States, household dust exposes people to numerous toxic chemicals that are associated with severe health problems; and children are particularly at risk.

The multi-institutional team found a broad range of toxic chemicals from everyday products accumulated in household dust while analyzing compiled data from dust samples collected throughout the United States from multiple studies. They aimed to identify the top 10 toxic chemicals that are most commonly found in dust.

In the first-of-its-kind meta-analysis, published in Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers discovered that the number one chemical identified in household dust was DEHP, which belongs to a hazardous class of chemicals called phthalates that are used in everything from household cleaners to food packaging to cosmetics, fragrance, and personal-hygiene products.

Household dust was found to have phthalates in the highest concentration – with a mean of 7,682 nanograms per gram of dust – an amount that was several orders of magnitude above the other chemicals.

Phenols, chemicals used in cleaning products and other household items, were the second on the list of highest concentrations, followed by flame retardants and highly fluorinated chemicals that are used to make non-stick cookware.

“Our study is the first comprehensive analysis of consumer product chemicals found in household dust.”

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