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Is Your Dust Dangerous?

Researchers studying dust samples from 70 homes across the United States have concluded that chemicals leaching out from household products could be threatening the health of children. They published their findings in a recent report, titled “Sick of Dust: Chemicals in Common Products,” which was sponsored by several environmental groups, including Clean Production Action.

The chemicals were released by laundry detergents, paints, cleaners, water pipes, kitchen pans and utensils, clothes, shower curtains, toys, furniture, flooring and carpeting, and electrical goods, such as computers and TV sets. In animal studies, many of these chemicals have been shown to disrupt reproductive, behavioral and immune systems; damage organ function; and cause cancer.

Only small amounts of the chemicals, including alkyl phenols and phthalates, were discovered, and studies have not conclusively determined their effects on children, according to Alexandra McPherson, project director of Clean Production Action North America. However, she points out that European governments have already begun eliminating the chemicals from consumer products. “If we wait to know the exact cause and effect, and the exact dose, I think it’s too late,” she says.

What can you do? Purchase products from manufacturers that have eliminated these chemicals. For further information on harmful chemicals in household products, McPherson suggests the following online resources:

• Safer Products Project – www.safer-products.org.

• Children’s Health and Environmental Coalition – www.checnet.org.

• The Green Guide – www.thegreenguide.com.

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