You may hate to dust your home, but we’re giving you extra incentive to keep things clean. As it turns out, some dust is toxic in a way we hadn’t expected. We came across the issue via Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Toxic America and have been keeping things a little more clean ever since!

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are the latest target of our crusade against the toxins that lurk in our homes. Below is everything you need to know about toxic dust and how you can help protect yourself (including this gorgeous Japanese dust pan!)

What you Should know about Toxic Dust:

The Culprit: According to the Environmental Working Group, PBDEs are a known nervous system toxin and currently used in plastics and fabric, most notably, in electronic devices. PBDEs are shed from TVs and other electronics and accumulate in that ever pervasive media center dust. (PBDEs were banned from furniture foam recently, but how old is your couch? Consider avoiding any crumbling foam in old furniture.)

The Concern: Swallowing PBDE-contaminated dust and contact with this dust are the primary routes into our bodies, where they collect in fat tissue. We can also be exposed through food and water. Breast-feeding infants are exposed to PBDEs through their mother’s milk and have the highest exposure compared to their body weight, followed by infants and toddlers, according to the data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PBDEs also accumulate in the body; toxicology tests show PDBEs may damage the liver and kidneys and affect the brain and behavior, according to the EPA who, in December, officially named PBDEs “chemicals of concern.” (CNN’s Toxic America)

What To Do About It: Shop for home goods that are free of PBDE flame retardants. If you’re a vintage furniture lover, keep this potentially dangerous chemical in mind. And, obviously, be sure to sweep up dust wherever you see it. A HEPA filter vacuum cleaner is a wise investment and, on the low-tech side, we love this gorgeous Japanese paper dust pan that makes dusting a beautiful process. This pan is coated with water-resistant persimmon tannin that dangerous dust won’t stick to!

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