Household dust is something we all view as annoying, but so common that we rarely even think about it. But that dust in your house could be causing you and your children more harm than you think. Everyday items and consumer products like non-stick cookware, children’s toys, and even pizza boxes release toxic chemicals into the air that become potentially hazardous dust particles.

When the Toxic Dust Settles


Researchers at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University conducted a study on household dust for the first time ever. What they found was 45 harmful chemicals present in the dust, with ten being found within 90% of the dust samples compiled.

These include the flame retardant TCEP that has been known to cause cancer and is commonly used in furniture, building materials, and baby products. The flame retardants TDCIPP and TPHP were also found to be present.

Phthalates were the most common chemical class found in the dust. These chemicals are often used to soften plastics in children’s toys and used in cosmetics. They’ve been linked to hormonal interference, declines in IQ and respiratory problems as well. Chemicals in the dust have also been linked to obesity and reproductive problems such as infertility.


“The findings suggest that people, and especially children, are exposed on a daily basis to multiple chemicals in dust that is linked to serious health problems”, said lead author and assistant professor of environmental and occupational health Ami Zota, “exposure to even small amounts of chemicals in combination can lead to amplified health risk, especially for developing infants and young mothers”.

How to Limit Exposure

You might think the risks are small even if you clean your house regularly, but chemical concentrations can quickly add up. Especially with dust because it’s small enough to not be noticed. Here are some ways you can avoid this:

  • Avoid any products containing harmful and problematic chemicals such as phthalates DEP, DEHP, DNBP, DIBP, phenols and highly fluorinated chemicals (HFCs)
  • Washing your hands and your children’s hands frequently
  • Try an app called Detox Me for tips on limiting daily exposure to chemicals such as: replacing vinyl shower curtains with nylon or using fragrance-free cleaning products can make the air in your home healthier

Dust may be a difficult thing to avoid completely, but there are ways to limit your exposure to its harmful byproducts. It’s also probably a good idea to not just save the spring cleaning for spring, so break out those feather dusters!

Here are a few more ways to keep your home clean!

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