What’s in the dust in our homes and workplaces??
On the average, people living in developed countries spend roughly 90% of their time indoors, either in their homes or at their indoor places of work. So what we may be breathing indoors should be a major concern to all of us. We hear a lot about outdoor pollution, from industrial sources, cars, trucks and heavy equipment and estimates are that about 60% of outdoor pollution levels make their way indoors. This fact alone should be sufficient to make more people aware that indoor air quality is crucial to our overall health and well-being.
But what about the “stuff” we bring into our homes, the cleaning agents, furniture, clothing, bedding, even some of the materials used to construct our homes and places of work? As it turns out, many of these products and materials generate dust and particles that get deposited within indoor spaces and may spend much of their lifetime suspended in the air that we breathe. So the question arises as to what’s in the dust and particles that accumulate indoors and is it bad for us.
To address this issue and concern, Ami Zota of the Milliken School of Public Health at George Washington University led a team of researchers to begin to answer these questions. Hundreds of dust and particle samples obtained from indoor spaces (mostly homes) over the last 16 years and used in other studies were analyzed for hazardous chemicals they might contain. When the dust had cleared in this study, so to speak, the research team had identified 35 chemicals that were present and that have been associated with adverse health outcomes “including reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, cognitive and behavioral impairment in children, cancer, asthma, immune dysfunction, and chronic disease.”
The results of this study reinforce the need to monitor the dust and particles that may be present in our indoor spaces so that preventive and corrective measures can be put in place to minimize and eliminate unnecessary and harmful exposures. The full report can be found here -- http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.6b02023.
Senior Research Scientist