Most women dont connect household products with chemical exposure

November 22nd, 2008 - 1:42 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, November 22 (ANI): While peoples awareness about toxic chemical exposure from household itemslike bisphenol A in some baby bottles and lead in some toysis said to have risen in recent times, a new study suggests that most women do not readily connect typical household products with personal chemical exposure and related adverse health effects.
People more readily equate pollution with large-scale contamination and environmental disasters, yet the products and activities that form the backdrop to our everyday lives electronics, cleaners, beauty products, food packaging are a significant source of daily personal chemical exposure that accumulates over time, said sociologist Rebecca Gasior Altman, who received a Ph.D. from Brown in this year, and is the lead author of the study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
Altman revealed that the research team studied how women interpreted and reacted to information about chemical contamination in their homes and bodies.
A review of their personal chemical exposure data suggested that most women were surprised and puzzled at the number of contaminants detected, said the author.
The researcher further revealed that the women in the study initially had difficulty relating the chemical results for their homes, located in rural and suburban communities, with their images of environmental problems, which they associated with toxic contamination originating outside the home from military or industrial activities, accidents or dumping.
This work underscores the value of having sociologists collaborate with life scientists to examine the personal experience of environmental problems. While there has been a rapid rise in bio-monitoring and household exposure assessment, were lacking social science data on how people respond to research that involves their homes and bodies. Our findings are among the first to examine the full exposure experience, said Brown University sociologist Phil Brown.
Altman said: This research illustrates how science is beginning to play a paramount role in discovering and redefining environmental problems that are not immediately perceptible through direct experience. Pollution at home has been a blind spot for society. The study documents that an important shift occurs in how people understand environmental pollution, its sources and possible solutions as they learn about chemicals from everyday products that are detectable in urine samples and the household dust collecting under the sofa.
While some scientists and government officials are afraid that the findings of the study might provoke fears, Altman and colleagues insist that people who have learnt about chemicals in their homes and bodies are eager for more information about how typical household products can expose them to chemicals that may affect health.
The study involved 25 women who had participated in an earlier Silent Spring Institutes Household Exposure Study (HES), which tested for 89 environmental pollutants in air, dust and urine samples from 120 Cape Cod households.
The study found about 20 target chemicals per home on average, including pesticides and compounds from plastics, cleaners, furniture, cosmetics, and other products.
According to the authors, about all of the HES participants chose to learn their personal results, and the 25 selected for the current research were interviewed about their experiences learning the results for their home and the study as a whole. (ANI)

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