Research indicates that house dust contains flame retardant chemicals (from sofas and chairs), arsenic, lead and DDT. I suspect that, through usage, flame retardant chemicals are ejected from furniture over time.
Although DDT was banned in America in 1972, it remains in many homes because it stays in the home at the base of carpets. It is quite surprising that it remains a risk for so long, inside the home.
We know that lead and arsenic are poisonous and we know that the chemicals used in flame retardants quite likely cause hyperthyroidism in elderly cats. More than 10% of older cats develop this condition.
Findings in research recently published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology indicated quite a clear link between flame retardant chemicals and hyperthyroidism because cats with hyperthyroidism had higher levels of the flame retardants called polybrominated depheny ethers.
Another research article published online tells us that flame retardants are found in house dust. These are all accepted scientist-lead research studies and therefore carry some weight.
This new research was published in the same journal mentioned above (at pages 386-391). Flame retardants called HCDBCO (hexachlorocyclopen- tadienyldibromocyclooctane) can be at high levels in Canadian homes.
In UK homes, residential dust was found to contain the well-known flame retardant HBCD (hexabromocy- clododecane).
The researchers concluded that children and babies are at risk. I suppose that this is because children are often on the floor where they are exposed to higher concentrations of house dust and they also put things into their mouths.
We know that cats are often on the floor and behave somewhat like babies and children to a certain extent. Are they subjected to the same risk?
The point I’m making is that dust (something which I tend to ignore!) should not be ignored because it carries poisons around the home which can harm you and your cat.
A lot of the poisons are walked into the home on shoes. If this is the case then I’d recommend that shoes are left in the hallway or an outside vestibule. Apparently almost 80% of dust which settles on floors can be removed by frequently cleaning away floor dust. Having done this research myself I’m going to be more fastidious about ensuring that my floors are cleaned of house dust.
Incidentally, lead in America comes from vehicle exhausts, smelting and soil deposits. The amount of dust on the floor (“lead loading on floors”) is a major factor in blood-lead levels in children. I would suggest that domestic cats are under a similar risk.
Arsenic comes from natural sources such as volcanoes (30%) and the remainder from mining, smelting and burning fossil fuels from industrial processes. It’s all about the environment outside your home which finds its way into your home, attaching to dust and then the dust presents a potential hazard to domestic cats and people alike.
This is not to say that we are all living within a hazardous environment inside our own home. It is just a warning. I’m just flagging up some potential problems because what worries me is that we often read about cats having allergies or underdiagnosed illnesses and conditions such as mentioned above, hyperthyroidism, and I believe that it is quite possible that a lot of these problems originate from invisible hazards in the home such as house dust.
Air purifiers filter out house dust!