Harvard Health Letter

Tiny specks may add up to heaps of trouble

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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