Testing Exposure Reduction Strategies

researchers visit home
© Randy H. Goodman

Our Household Exposure Study shows numerous consumer product chemicals build up in air and dust indoors, and the US Centers for Disease Control has detected many of them in blood or urine samples from nearly everyone tested in the National Exposure Report. Silent Spring Institute researchers are conducting studies to determine whether levels of certain chemicals in the home and in people’s bodies can be reduced by using different products or practices. Results will help consumers make choices to reduce their exposures and guide state and national policies to keep suspect chemicals out of products in the first place.

Food Packaging Study
To find out how food packaging contributes to exposure, we asked 20 adults and children to collect urine samples for us to test before, during, and after they switched to a fresh foods diet with limited packaging or prepared food. The fresh food diet reduced the urine levels of two hormone disruptors—BPA (an estrogen mimic) and the phthalate DEHP (an anti-androgen)—by more than half in just three days. This study was conducted in collaboration with the Breast Cancer Fund and published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Household Products Study
To find out about chemicals in a broad range of household products, we tested 50 types of products for hormone disruptors and chemicals associated with asthma. We tested personal care products (e.g., lotion, toothpaste, sunscreen), cleaning products (e.g., laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner), and other household items (e.g., shower curtain, pillow protector, cat litter). We found 55 target chemicals, including many that were not listed on the product labels. This is the first peer-reviewed study to test a large number of health-related chemicals in a wide range of household products and the first of ingredients in sunscreens, as far as we know.

Detox Me
These studies, and more, formed the basis of Silent Spring's mobile app Detox Me, a clean lifestyle guide that empowers consumers to eliminate toxic chemicals from their daily lives. The free smartphone app walks users through simple, research-based tips on how to reduce their exposure to potentially harmful chemicals where they live and work. Silent Spring is also developing the app as a tool for future health intervention studies aimed at reducing people's exposures. For more information, visit detoxmeapp.org

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