By: Stacey Colino
Excerpt: "Most college students aren't the biggest neat-freaks on the planet, which is why the results of new research are particularly unsettling. In the first study of its kind, researchers collected 95 dust samples from common areas and student rooms in dormitories on two New England college campuses that adhered to two different furniture flammability standards and found traces of 47 different flame retardants in the dust.
Many of the flame retardants detected may be health hazards; some of these chemicals are known carcinogens, while others are recognized as hormone disruptors (linked with thyroid dysfunction and decreased fertility, in particular) or neurotoxins. In other words, what they found was either bad or terrible. They also reported that the dust level of flame retardants was "significantly higher" on the campus that followed a more severe flammability standard for furniture. ...
Because flame retardants are added to textiles, curtains, electronics, upholstered furniture, building insulation, and other materials, they can migrate out of these items and permeate the air and dust in a given space. They end up in our bodies when we breathe or touch the dust. "Across the country, people are widely exposed to these chemicals—and college students often bring things that contain them, such as foam furniture, into dorms," says study lead author Robin Dodson, an exposure scientist at the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Massachusetts. As a result, students are exposed to these toxic chemicals in the very place where they spend the most time sleeping, studying, and hanging out."