Standardized house dust aids health researchers

February 01, 2007

Chemists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have created a standardized form of common house dust to support environmental scientists studying our everyday exposure to a catalog of potentially hazardous chemicals.

Although a "standard house dust" may sound funny, environmental scientists are quite serious about the potential for household grime to harbor harmful chemicals. A 2004 study by NIST and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example, found high concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in household dust*. PBDEs were widely used as flame retardants in consumer products but have been phased out due to concerns over their toxicity. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), once commonly used in electrical equipment as an insulator, have not been produced since 1977 because of their toxicity, but still are found in the environment.

Accurate assessments of everyday exposure to many of these contaminants are difficult because of both the complexity of the analysis and the small quantities involved. "PCBs," for example, is shorthand for dozens of chemically similar compounds that may be found in hundreds of combinations of only a few micrograms each in a kilogram of dust. To provide environmental scientists with an accurate baseline for calibrating their tests, NIST prepared a reference sample of typical house dust that has been certified for the concentrations of over 80 potentially hazardous chemicals.

The dust was collected, with assistance from the EPA, from vacuum cleaner bags collected from homes, cleaning services, motels and hotels in the states of North Carolina, Maryland, Ohio, New Jersey, Montana and Wisconsin during 1993 and 1994, and sterilized, filtered, homogenized and analyzed. Each 10-gram sample of Standard Reference Material 2585, "Organic Contaminants in House Dust," is certified by NIST for the concentrations of 33 selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 30 PCBs, four chlorinated pesticides and 15 PBDEs. Reference values--measurements believed to be accurate but not meeting NIST criteria for a "certified" value--are provided for 33 additional PAHs, 12 additional PCBs, 10 additional chlorinated pesticides and three additional PBDEs.

Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) are among the most widely distributed and used products from NIST. The agency prepares, analyzes and distributes well over a thousand different materials that are used throughout the world to check the accuracy of instruments and test procedures used in manufacturing, clinical chemistry, environmental monitoring, electronics, criminal forensics and dozens of other fields.
-end-
For information on SRM 2585, see https://srmors.nist.gov/view_detail.cfm?srm=2585.

*See "Flame Retardant Exposure Linked to House Dust," NIST Tech Beat, Jan. 5, 2005. www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2005_0105.htm#flame

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Related Contaminants Articles from Brightsurf:

Contaminants from Mount Polley tailings spill continue to affect Quesnel lake
Natural mixing of lake waters may resuspend contaminants deposited in a catastrophic mine spill six years ago, according to a new paper led by a University of Alberta scientist.

Mix of contaminants in Fukushima wastewater, risks of ocean dumping
Nearly 10 years after the Tohoku-oki earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power, radiation levels have fallen to safe levels in all but the waters closest to the shuttered power plant.

Environmental contaminants alter gut microbiome, health
The microbes that inhabit our bodies are influenced by what we eat, drink, breathe and absorb through our skin, and most of us are chronically exposed to natural and human-made environmental contaminants.

Co-occurring contaminants may increase NC groundwater risks
Eighty-four percent of the wells sampled in the Kings Mountain Belt and the Charlotte and Milton Belts of the Piedmont region of North Carolina contained concentrations of vanadium and hexavalent chromium that exceeded health recommendations from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Study estimates more than 100,000 cancer cases could stem from contaminants in tap water
A toxic cocktail of chemical pollutants in US drinking water could result in more than 100,000 cancer cases, according to a peer-reviewed study from Environmental Working Group -- the first study to conduct a cumulative assessment of cancer risks due to 22 carcinogenic contaminants found in drinking water nationwide.

Microbe chews through PFAS and other tough contaminants
In a series of lab tests, a relatively common soil bacterium has demonstrated its ability to break down the difficult-to-remove class of pollutants called PFAS, researchers at Princeton University said.

Urban stormwater could release contaminants to ground, surface waters
A good rainstorm can make a city feel clean and revitalized.

Bronx river turtles get a check-up
A team of scientists and veterinarians gave a health evaluation of turtles living in the Bronx River, one of the most urbanized rivers in the U.S. and the only remaining freshwater river that flows through New York City.

Microbial contaminants found in popular e-cigarettes
Popular electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) products sold in the US were contaminated with bacterial and fungal toxins, according to new research from Harvard T.H.

High negative pressure limits dispersion of airborne contaminants in hospitals and renovation sites
Maintaining a high negative pressure in airborne infection isolation rooms of hospitals (over -10 Pa) and in renovation sites (over -5 Pa) effectively limits the dispersion of airborne contaminants and dust, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows.

Read More: Contaminants News and Contaminants Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.