Amount of flame retardants found in house dust reflects types of products used.

Jun 30, 2008

Allen, JG, MD McClean, HM Stapleton and TF Webster. 2008. Linking PBDEs in house dust to consumer products using X-ray fluorescence. Environmental Science and Technology 42:4222–4228.

Synopsis by Stacey L. Harper

A new study shows for the first time that the amount of toxic flame retardants found in residential dust is strongly associated with the presence and use of household consumer products, such as furniture and televisions.

Researchers have tracked the source of flame retardants in house dust to specific products and find the dust levels are associated with product use. Foam furniture releases one kind of bromine that was related to a specific type of PBDE (pentaBDE) found in house dust, while televisions release a different type of PBDE (decaBDE). The amount detected in the dust was related to television use. Exposure to the commonly used flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) disrupts hormone balance, injures the nervous system and results in developmental abnormalities in newborns. Ingesting indoor dust is thought to be a significant route of exposure to these toxic chemicals.