Dust Busters: Local Groups Look into Chemicals Found in Dust

Updated: 04/08/2014 6:16 PM
Created: 04/08/2014 5:31 PM
By: Kate Renner

Some local environmental and health advocates, called the Healthy Legacy Coalition, are trying a new approach to get you to think about the chemicals in your home.

They visited five Minneapolis homes, collected dust, and sent it off to be tested.

The dreaded dust ball - is it full of dangerous chemicals or will it just aggravate your allergies?

Martha Moriarty knows no matter how often you wipe it away, dust reappears. Her home was one of the five used in the testing, all she had to do was vacuum. Then they emptied out their vacuum cleaner and sent all of the dust to a lab for testing.

"I was kind of shocked that I had so many phthalates in my house," said Moriarty.

In the Moriarty house, the dust included some common chemicals.

"Cosmetics is where we were hit, shampoos, conditions, body wash, fragrances," she said. Fragrances added to cosmetics have phthalates. They're also found in vinyl, like backpacks or shower curtains.

The problem is - no one knows how much of the chemical it takes to impact your health.

"It really puts the burden on me as the parent, to look for products without all of these chemicals in them," said Moriarty.

We took the claims made here by these groups to our medical expert, who says it's important to remember that just because something like phthalates is present, it doesn't mean it's dangerous; it really depends on the level or amount of phthalates.

This is something that has been, and still is being studied.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says studies on lab animals show that at some level, phthalates can lead to reproductive problems. But they can't tell us what level causes harm in humans.

View the study from the Healthy Legacy Coalition here.

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