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You Won't Believe What's in House Dust!
Dusting. It's one of the most dreaded household chores. It may also be one of the most hazardous for your health. Household dust is laced with dozens of potentially toxic chemicals, according to researchers from George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington, D.C.

Find out the dirty little secret of liquid soap. Hint: It may be toxic.

What is in dust? Specifically, the team found 45 chemicals in household dust, all of which are potentially toxic. The dust samples were taken from homes in 14 states.

Here are some of the chemicals the GW team found in household dust:

  • Ten harmful chemicals were found in 90 percent or more of the dust samples analyzed.

  • One of the most dangerous chemicals found in virtually all the samples was a known carcinogen called TDCIPP. This is a flame retardant that is found in furniture, baby products and household items.

  • The chemical phthalate, known as DEHP, was found in 100 percent of the dust samples. This is thought to interfere with the body's hormones and has been linked to a range of reproductive and developmental health issues, including IQ declines and respiratory problems in children. Phthalates are used to soften plastics and act as solvents; they are used in cosmetics, toys, vinyl flooring and more.

  • PFOA and PFOS, which are highly-fluorinated chemicals, are found in cellphones, pizza boxes and many nonstick, waterproof and stain-resistant products. PFOA and PFOS have been linked to problems with the immune, digestive, developmental and endocrine systems.

Where does it come from? The chemicals come from a broad array of consumer products--furniture, carpeting, electronics and toys. "Indoor dust is a reservoir for consumer-product chemicals," study leader Ami Zota told HealthDay News. "Many of the times when these chemicals are added to consumer products, they're not chemically bound to the products. They can migrate out of the product and into the air or dust."

What is the danger? "Some of these chemicals are associated with serious health outcomes, particularly children's health," Zota explained to HealthDay News. However, the American Chemistry Council, which represents the chemicals industry, disagrees. "The mere presence of a chemical does not signify risk to human health," the council said in a statement.

Some of the chemicals are flushed out of our bodies, but others, such as flame retardants, tend to accumulate in the body and that increases the risk to our health. But even those that are flushed out, such as phthalates, are quickly replenished by our indoor environment.

How can you protect yourself and your family? HealthDay News offers the following advice:

  • Wash your hands and your children's hands frequently.
  • Vacuum carpets and wet-mop hard surfaces frequently.
  • Purchase furniture made without flame retardants or stain guard and buy toys that are phthalate-free.
  • Whenever possible, open the windows to allow the fresh air to circulate.

The study findings were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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