[Document] ‘Toxic Dust @ Home’

Our results show that we are being exposed to chemical pollution from everyday items, furniture, and home decorating products in our homes.

Our results show that we are being exposed to chemical pollution from everyday items, furniture, and home decorating products in our homes.

We can’t avoid having dust in our homes, but did you know that this dust has the potential to contain hazardous man-made chemicals?

“China will accelerate its slide into a toxic future if it does not start regulating the use of these chemicals now. Some countries in the developed world, such as the EU member states, already have a roadmap for phasing them out. It is vital that China catches up.”  Ada Kong, Greenpeace Campaigner.

Four Groups of Hazardous Chemicals

Greenpeace collected dust samples from the homes of three families in Hong Kong and 11 homes in mainland China in five cities.  Every single sample came back testing positive for at least one of four hazardous chemicals: phthalates, brominated flame retardants (PBDEs & HBCD), organotins, and perfluorinated chemicals.

Household dust is one of the best indicators for measuring indoor pollution. The concentrations of these hazardous chemicals in the dust samples are consistent with similar studies overseas.

Environmental hormones can interfere with the endocrine and nervous systems

More and more studies have shown that household dust is becoming a “storehouse” for hazardous and harmful substances. They can enter out bodies when we breathe in, eat or touch the dust. It is possible that this pollution can damage our endocrine, immune, reproductive and nervous systems. They can have a serious effect on child development even at low concentrations.

Where do the poisons in the dust come from?

Toxic substances in dust

How you can reduce the hazardous chemicals in your life?

• Avoid anything made with PVC (polyvinylchloride) plastic. This plastic can release dioxins – one of the most toxic chemicals in the world – phthalates, chlorine and other harmful chemicals during its use and disposal. PVC can be found in packaging, electronics, imitation leather, flooring and more.

• Avoid storing food in plastics, which can release phthalates and bisphenol-A into your food.

• Avoid buying bottled water and other beverages: Not only are plastics a wasteful material, but they can also release phthalates into liquid.

• Consider buying less clothing each year, buying second-hand, or getting together with your friends for a clothing swap. The textiles industry is highly polluting, with many hazardous chemicals and heavy metals used in its dyes and bleaches.

• Make sure to dispose of your electronics properly, by bringing them to the manufacturer.  


For a toxic-free future

We used this research to urge the Chinese government to head for a toxics-free future by setting up a robust chemical management system, in which it would phase out the use of the most hazardous chemicals with readily available substitutes. And we also urged it to set up an information disclosure system so that the public can find out exactly what chemicals are in the products they buy and what the health issues are.