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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Are Indoor Risk

Researchers Find EDC Levels Are Higher Indoors Than Outdoors

Tracking EDCs continued...

''This study demonstrates that chemicals from consumer products affect indoor air quality and exposures are ubiquitous," Rudel says in a written statement.

And some research has shown adverse health effects from typical exposure levels to such EDCs as phthalates, and flame retardants, she says. But, she says, more study is needed.

The sampling, she tells WebMD, may not reflect true exposure to a specific person. "These results reflect what is in the air, not what is on your body," she says.

Using a soap with EDCs, for instance, could result in higher levels on your skin than what is in the air, she says, as could skin contact with a fabric with stain-resistant coating.

It's important to collect exposure information, Rudel says, so regulatory agencies can focus their priorities on EDCs with high or common exposure and decide if control is needed.

Manufacturers can also use the information to make decisions about product formulations, she says, and consumers armed with this information can decide what to buy.

Second Opinion

The new findings add evidence to what some scientists have long suspected, says Charles J. Weschler, PhD, adjunct professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and continuing visiting professor at the Technical University of Denmark in Copenhagen.

''It drives home the fact that a lot of these compounds that are potentially endocrine-disrupting are entering our bodies in part as a consequent of indoor exposures," he tells WebMD, although he says that some do come from food and drink as well.

''When you look at the indoor concentrations of some of these compounds," he says of the study findings, "it doesn't matter whether you live next to a refinery or in the woods."

In a study he conducted in 1984, Weschler says he measured some of the same compounds. "In 1984, we didn't realize these compounds were potential EDCs," he says. Back then, they regarded the compounds as additives that were used in a host of products.

"I think this paper is alerting those who really were not aware of the fact that indoor exposures really matter for a lot of these compounds," he says.

"When you buy that new shower curtain with the strong smell [from plasticizers], some of those chemicals are going to end up in you," he says.

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