Everyday Chemical Exposures

sweeping up dust

What can we learn from air particles floating in our living rooms? What can dust motes teach us about our past—and our future? Even invisible specks, it turns out, can reveal a great deal.

Findings from Silent Spring Institute’s studies of contaminants inside homes have suggested that consumer products provide a major route of exposure to chemicals that have been shown to mimic or disrupt hormones. These chemicals linger in indoor environments, sometimes for years. Despite their potential as important sources of exposure, we know little about them.

To understand better the impact these contaminants may have on health, Silent Spring Institute scientists are investigating women’s household exposure to two classes of chemicals that have been identified as important for breast cancer research: mammary carcinogens, which are chemicals that cause mammary tumors in animals, and endocrine disrupting compounds, which are chemicals that mimic or disrupt hormones.

Through this work Silent Spring Institute is advancing the research beyond a small number of banned chemicals to real-world mixtures of dozens of chemicals that laboratory studies have identified as possible culprits in triggering or hastening breast cancer development. For information about the chemicals included in Silent Spring Institute research see Environment and Breast Cancer: Science Reviews.