Contaminants from a variety of sources are widespread in our homes. Many common household products are made with toxic chemicals that have been linked to a range of adverse health effects including reproductive, neurological and development harm; asthma; cancers; and other diseases.
Sources of contamination include man-made chemicals found in:
- cleaning products
- upholstered furniture
- food packaging
- baby products
- children’s toys
- other household items like household pest control chemicals, vinyl flooring, and PVC shower curtains
Exposure may occur through direct contact with products that contain harmful chemicals; inhalation of polluted indoor air; and ingestion of contaminated food, beverages, or dust particles.
Household dust is a significant source of exposure to harmful chemicals in the home.
Certain toxic chemicals are volatile and once released from household products will bind to household dust. These volatile chemicals include bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, perfluorinated compounds (PFAS), and toxic flame retardant chemicals like PBDEs. Other contaminants, such as pesticides and heavy metals, may be tracked into the home from outdoors and may also be found in household dust.
Young children are especially vulnerable to exposure to contaminated dust because:
- Children, especially babies and toddlers, spend much of their time on the floor where dust settles.
- Children’s hand-to-mouth behavior increases the chance they will ingest contaminated dust particles.
Reducing Exposure to Harmful Chemicals in the Home
We can reduce our exposure by avoiding products that contain harmful chemicals and by using non-toxic cleaning methods that effectively remove dust like wet mopping and using HEPA filters when vacuuming.