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Exposure to chemicals via house dust

Exposure to chemicals via house dust


Humans are exposed to substances present in house dust, but the majority of these substances do not pose a risk to human health. Those substances that do exceed a critical level, however, have the potential to be a health risk. The most common of these are lead and di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, followed by arsenic, cadmium, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and PBDEs (flame retardants). These substances come into house dust through the wear and tear of consumer products, the release of products when cooking and burning wood in the fireplace. In addition, some pollutants can fall off the soles of shoes that have come into contact with polluted soil. By order of the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment of the Netherlands, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has carried out a screening of the potential risks posed by various chemical substances in house dust. The substances investigated include metals, organotin compounds, phthalates, brominated flame retardants, pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Substances in house dust are mostly ingested through the contact of the hand or an object with the mouth. This is particularly true for young children. A minor part of house dust enters the body by inhalation. The mean ingestion rates for adults and children were estimated. Exposure to substances via house dust is calculated based on the mean ingestion rates and typical concentrations of substances present in house dust. Whenever possible, this study has focussed on the situation in the Netherlands. The exposure of adults and children to substances via house dust was compared to the tolerable daily intake, which was used as a criterium for a potential health risk, and to the background exposure (via food and water consumption). The findings of this investigation provide an overview of the substances in house dust which can exceed the accepted norm and for which the contribution of house dust to the total exposure is substantial. Based on these findings, the RIVM recommends that the substances identified herein be subjected to measurements in research on the indoor environment.

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