By: Douglas Main
Excerpt: "Very high levels of toxic flame retardants have been found in dust samples collected from college dormitories, raising concerns that they could impact the health of many young people.
A study published in April in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found large quantities of chemicals meant to suppress fire—which have been linked to cancer and hormone disruption—in dust bunnies. ...
The findings are based on 95 dust samples taken at two colleges in the Northeast, but are likely to generalize to other schools, Dodson says. As to why college dorms have a higher level of flame retardants, Dodson suspects it’s because they are small, relatively confined places that contain a lot of furniture (often old furniture). Furniture and electronics contain flame retardants that leach out and get into dust.
More than half of the dorm rooms tested had dust concentrations that exceed the EPA’s risk-based screening levels for soil. (The agency doesn’t have such levels for dust, though it too can cause exposure to toxins, such as through skin contact and accidental ingestion.) These screening levels usually correspond to “an increase in risk of at least one additional case in a million exposed people,” says Todd Whitehead, a researcher at UC-Berkeley, who wasn’t involved in the study."