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Scientists found toxic chemicals in household dust



House dust

Credit: CC0 public domain

Since the 1970s, chemicals called brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have been added to a wide range of consumer and home products, from electronics and mattresses to upholstery and rugs. While they are aimed at improving explosion safety, one form ̵

1; polybrominated diphenyl ether, or PBDEs – has been shown to be harmful to human health, especially our hormonal system.

Although PBDE use has been restricted in Canada since 2008, older home electronics and furniture with these compounds are still used. Additionally, the process used to add this chemical to manufactured goods has attached very loosely particles. As a result, the compound tends to decrease over time due to normal wear and tear.

There is increasing evidence that the concentration of this chemical in the home is higher and that it is present in dust. A team of researchers from the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan and Memorial University began to determine if they could find bromine in household dust using synchronized X-rays.

By determining the presence of bromine, they can confirm whether people are actually exposed to the chemical at home, either by direct physical contact or by inhaling it. The scientists tested 20 dust samples collected from homes in rural Newfoundland using the VESPERS beam at the CLS.

Scientists found toxic chemicals in household dust

Dr. Atanu Sarkar with the School of Medicine at Memorial University is conducting an experiment at CLS. Credit: Canadian Light Source

Dr. Peter Blanchard of the CLS said his team was not sure, when going in, whether the bromine concentration in their samples was high enough to register, and if so, whether they could then distinguish between different types of bromine or not. They won on both points: “We can demonstrate that there is a noticeable amount of bromine present in all the dust samples we analyzed and in a select few we can. identify the bromine types specific to brominated flame retardants, “Blanchard said. Previous studies have been unable to distinguish brominated flame retardants from other brominated compounds.

Study co-author Dr Atanu Sarkar, from Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, says their findings offer a choice between the worse and the worse: fire safety versus a Other dangers. He admits that people cannot remove all BRF-containing products and materials indoors as not feasible.

“But if dust is a source of our exposure, how can you reduce this exposure?” Sarkar said. “Community awareness is important. Perhaps we need to vacuum more often.”

Their findings point to the need to identify – and make consumers more aware – of safer alternatives that do not contain brominated compounds. The group recently announced their results in Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

The scientists added that one of the biggest benefits of using CLS for this type of research is that, unlike other commonly used test devices, XRF and XANES techniques are based on sync. Chemical does not destroy dust samples.

Therefore, it is possible to collect samples from similar households on the road, to compare with the plots used in this study, and to analyze existing samples after 5 or 10 years, to view chemicals What can BRFs be like in our homes? change over time.


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More information:
Peter Blanchard et al. To evaluate the use of synchronous X-ray spectroscopy in investigating bromine flame retardants in indoor dust, Environmental Science and Pollution Research (Year 2020). DOI: 10.1007 / s11356-020-10623-4

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Quote: Scientists found toxic chemicals in household dust (2020, November 4) retrieved November 4, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-11-scientists- chemicals-household.html

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