Mix of hazardous chemicals under your bed - EU needs to act

An analysis of dust samples is being used to urge faster action on EDCs in REACH. The dust has been vacuumed up from underneath beds around the world in a project carried out by ChemSec and other NGOs.

The resulting report, Home sweet home - dusty surprises under the bed shows that a hazardous mix of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) lie hidden under beds all around the world, in levels higher than earlier found. EDCs have been increasingly linked to a range of health problems including impaired fertility, cancer and attention deficit disorders.

Europeans spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoor, where the exposure to chemicals can be a thousand times higher than that found outdoors. EDCs can be released from many products commonly found in our homes, including furniture, electronics, cosmetics and toys. Most at risk of exposure to the chemicals found in household dust are those closest to the floor - young children.

The dust analysed was collected by vacuum cleaners in bedrooms in six EU member states, four countries in Africa and two in Southeast Asia*. Some of the investigated chemicals, such as nonylphenol and some phthalates, were found in their highest levels in European homes.

This report shows that highly problematic chemicals, such as chemicals on the SIN List, are commonly found under people's beds. In order for people to be able to sleep well at night the EU and all European countries must act strongly. Currently people are not properly protected by EU laws from this cocktail** of endocrine disrupters, says ChemSec Director Anne-Sofie Andersson.

The study presented today looks at the chemicals present in dust, and does not take into account other sources of chemical exposure in indoor environments. Even only considering dust, the findings show that the total level of phthalates*** where in some countries found to be higher than what public authorities today consider to be safe, if the cocktail effect is considered.

The report Home sweet home - dusty surprises under the bed also highlights that in order to fully understand the effects that EDCs have on our health and reproduction, new risk assessment methods for EDCs are crucial, methods which take into account the ability of EDCs to have significant effects even at very low doses.

We strongly encourage the European Commission and every EU member state to speed up the process and nominate EDCs to the REACH Candidate List. We also encourage companies to phase out EDCs from their products, says ChemSec project coordinator Frida Hök.

Press release
Report: Home sweet home - dusty surprises under the bed

* Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Italy, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, the Philippines, and Malaysia.
** The cocktail effect means that all substances in a mixture contribute to the mixture properties such as toxicity.
*** BBP, DBP, DEHP and DINP.

The dust in European countries has been collected by the following NGOs: European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) in Belgium, Clean Air Action Group in Hungary, AMICA in Italy, BUND in Germany, Society for Sustainable living in the Czech Republic and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) in Sweden.