The Household Exposure Study began as part of the Cape Cod Breast Cancer and Environment Study—a multi-institutional effort led by Silent Spring to address environmental links to breast cancer among women living on Cape Cod.
Cape Cod home

In this groundbreaking study, Silent Spring researchers collected indoor air and dust samples from 120 homes on Cape Cod and measured the concentrations of 89 chemicals identified as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs). These are chemicals that mimic or interfere with human hormones, sometimes affecting cell growth and development, and are widely-used in pesticides, detergents, plastics, furniture, and cosmetics.

The study provided the first indoor measurements of dozens of EDCs in U.S. homes, including the first report of PBDE flame retardants in household dust, demonstrating that consumer products are a major source of exposure to hormone disruptors. The innovative study also required the development of new scientific methods for testing indoor air and dust for a variety of environmental chemicals.

In order to understand major pathways of exposure, the researchers collected urine samples from the women residing in the Cape homes that were tested and analyzed their samples for phthalates and pesticides in relation to their household air and dust measurements. The researchers also analyzed the relationship between the study participants’ self-reported use of pesticides and other products and levels of chemicals measured in their air, dust, and in their bodies.

Findings from the project laid the groundwork for future environmental health studies and helped identify chemicals with high exposures that should be prioritized for further research.

Read more about the Cape Cod Breast Cancer and Environment Study.

News & Updates


Study finds PBDE levels to be ten times higher in homes on Cape Cod than in European homes, where these chemicals are being phased out because of their suspected toxic effects.