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 developmental harm, asthma, cancers and other diseases.

Sources of contamination include synthetic chemicals found in some cleaning products, upholstered furniture, electronics, food packaging, baby products, children’s toys, and other household items. Household pest control chemicals, vinyl flooring, and PVC shower curtains are other common sources of pollution in the home.

Exposure may occur through direct contact with products that contain harmful chemicals, through inhalation of polluted indoor air, and through ingestion of contaminated food, beverages, or dust particles.

Household Dust

Household dust is a significant source of harmful chemical exposure in the home environment.
Certain toxic chemicals are volatile and once released from products, will bind to household dust. These volatile chemicals from household products include  bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, perfluorinatedchemicals (PFCs), and a class of toxic flame retardant chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (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:

  • Children, especially babies and toddlers, spend much of their time on the floor where dust settles.
  • Childrens’ 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 to certain chemicals that we know are harmful by avoiding products that contain them and by using cleaning methods that safely and effectively remove dust.

To learn more about routes of exposure and how you can avoid harmful toxins in the home, visit the following pages:

Are you concerned about a toxic couch? Check out this fact sheet with suggestions from Green Science Policy: Furniture without Added Flame Retardants
or this blog article about finding toxic free furniture.