The dust in a typical house is likely to contain allergens like
pet hair and dander, or chemicals and poisons like lead or
arsenic that make their way in from outdoors. David Layton, a
researcher at the University of Arizona developed a computer
model to track the migration of contaminated soil. His research,
which has involved examination of dust samples from homes in
California and the Midwest, has found measurable amounts of
arsenic and lead from decades-old auto emissions and defunct
coal-fired power stations. Other research has shown the
concentration of pollutants in households to be much higher (two
to 23 times higher) than the concentrations in the surrounding
soil. And the house doesn't need to be next door to a Superfund
site, either. Wind and weather can loft toxic particles into the
atmosphere and deposit them hundreds of miles away.
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