We spend significant portions of our day-to-day lives in our homes. These pages aim to identify, understand, and manage exposure risks associated with chemical contaminants in and around the home. Check out helpful resources and our answers to frequently asked questions.
More information coming soon!
Contaminants in the home environment
Chemical contaminants in the home environment can come from a few different sources. First, some household items contain contaminants, and as these item break down over time, the contaminant may become mobile, and end up in household dust, air, or water. Second, some household materials like paint, flooring, and pipes may contain contaminants and may similarly breakdown over time. Lastly, we may bring in contaminants from outside on our clothes, shoes, in our food, and from elsewhere. Some of these contaminants like lead, flame retardants, phthalates, and PFAS may be harmful to our health if we are exposed.
Reducing my exposure
There are easy steps that can be taken to minimize your exposure to chemical contaminants in and around the home. Simple steps like keeping surfaces clean and washing your hands frequently can help limit exposures. It is also important to stay aware of what you are bringing into your home when adding furniture and other household items, and especially when choosing new flooring, paint, and other building materials. However, renters may not have as much of a say in what building materials are used, or if and when degraded materials are replaced.
Specific risk factors for exposure
Homes built before 1978, and especially those built before 1960 are more likely to contain lead-based paint. Older homes in some cities may also be more likely to contain lead-lined water pipes. However, newer homes are not necessarily free from exposure risks. Lead-lined water pipes are sometimes replaced with pipes made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which poses heath risks. Some popular flooring options for new homes like vinyl flooring also pose risks. Foods, clothing, furniture, and other household items can contain contaminants that pose health risks, so it’s important to be aware of what you are bringing into your home.