Researchers have found that the dust in our homes can harbor many chemicals that can accelerate the development of fat cells, potentially contributing to obesity.

The dust in your house may contain harmful chemicals. In recent years, researchers have expressed concern about the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, a class of substances that can interfere with the functioning of the endocrine or hormonal system. These substances are sometimes present in household cleaning products, and even in the objects we use daily.

Many plastics, for example, contain phthalates, which are endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Researchers have warned that these chemicals pose a threat to public health, as studies have linked them to fertility problems, liver disease, cancers and childhood obesity. One study found evidence to suggest house dust may promote the development of fat cells. For what ? Because this dust can contain chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system.

Do certain chemicals contribute to obesity?

The researchers drew on existing research that indicates a link between exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and impaired lipid (fat) regulation in animal models. This evidence joins that of other studies, which have suggested that this mechanism may contribute to the development of obesity in humans.

For the current research, the team collected house dust samples from 194 homes in central North Carolina (US), with the aim of studying the effect of the chemical constituents of the dust on the metabolic health of the inhabitants. . To do this, the researchers first extracted the chemicals from the dust samples. They then tested the effects of these substances in vitro, looking in particular to find out whether the chemical mixtures favored the development of fat cells.

The researchers indicate that even very low concentrations of the chemicals present in the dust samples actually promoted the growth of precursor fat cells (from which adult fat cells develop) and, therefore, fat cell growth. This finding is particularly concerning because children most likely ingest between 60 and 100 milligrams of dust and soil per day.

Two-thirds of the dust extracts were able to promote fat cell development and only half were able to promote proliferation of precursor fat cells at 100 micrograms, levels about 1,000 times lower than what children consume daily. In total, the researchers identified the presence of more than 100 different chemicals in house dust samples, and about 70 of these substances played a role in the growth of fat cells.

About 40 of these chemicals played a role in the development of precursor fat cells. This suggests that mixtures of chemicals present in the indoor environment may be responsible for these effects.

Additionally, the researchers say that several of the chemicals that induced fat cell growth were present at high levels in dust samples taken from homes inhabited by overweight or obese children.

These chemicals are found in a variety of products we encounter every day, including pesticides, cosmetics, food packaging and household cleaning products.
Bisphenol A, phthalates and flame retardants are some of the most common EDCs we are exposed to.

A potential new health threat

Although more studies are needed to better understand how house dust may interfere with metabolic health, the researchers say their findings are concerning.
The adipogenic activity of house dust has occurred at concentrations below the exposure levels estimated to be healthy for children, and raises concerns about impacts on human health, especially in children. These results delineate a new potential health threat and identify SVOCs [substances chimiques organiques semi-volatiles] as probably contributing to this danger.

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