Can You Rid Your Home Of Dangerous Chemicals?
Flame-retardants present in household furniture and electronics have been linked to endocrine disruption, decreased fertility and thyroid dysfunction. New research from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health suggests that you may be able to lower your exposure to these chemicals by frequent hand washing and house cleaning.
Investigators recruited 32 women to test whether these strategies, recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency, really work. At the outset tests showed that a flame-retardant (known as Tris) was present in 97 percent of urine samples obtained from the women. For the first week of the study half the women were given hand soaps and asked to wash their hands more frequently than they had prior to the study, particularly before meals. The other half were provided with microfiber mops, clothes and vacuum cleaners and asked to clean their homes more often than usual.
During the study’s second week all the women were asked to wash their hands and clean their homes more often. Afterwards, Tris levels in urine had dropped by an average of 43 percent among all participants, and by 62 percent in women who had the highest levels at the study’s start. While these results were encouraging, the researchers reported that the flame-retardants were still detectable, indicating that housecleaning and handwashing can’t entirely eliminate exposure.
Julie B. Herbstman et al, “Flame retardant exposure assessment: findings from a behavioral intervention study.” Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, June 28, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41370-018-0049-6
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