Does This Dust Make Me Look Fat?
A mouse study conducted by researchers at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, suggests exposure to chemicals in household dust may affect production of body fat, especially in children. The substances, called endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), can interfere with hormone production and function. EDCs include bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, and flame retardants and are found in everyday products like cosmetics, food packaging, and household cleaning products.
This recent study involved household dust from 11 homes in North Carolina, in which 44 contaminants were identified. Researchers tested the effects of exposure to the particles on fat cells derived from mice. In seven out of the 11 samples, exposure caused the cells to mature and acquire more fat (triglycerides) and in nine out of 11 cases, exposure triggered an increase in the number of precursor fat cells. According to researchers, the pesticide pyraclostrobin, the flame retardant TBPDP, and the plasticizer DBP had the greatest effect.
EDC exposure has been linked to an increased risk for serious health problems, such as cancer, neurodevelopment disorders, and infertility, and exposure in utero to has been linked to childhood obesity.