It doesn’t look like sugar, and I’m pretty darn sure it doesn’t taste like sugar . . . but the tests were done and the data is in—dust is the new fat maker.
And here you thought it was a poor diet and lack of exercise causing your expanding waist line. Well according to new research out of Duke University in the United States of America, this new kid on the block could actually pack a punch.
Samples of ordinary household dust were collected from 11 homes across North Carolina and tested for contaminants. The 44 contaminants found were then tested to assess their effects on a population of mouse cells (3T3-L1 cells that form adipose tissue for storing energy as fat).
[Mouse cells are commonly used as a model for human reaction as their function is quite similar to our own.]
Three of the 44 contaminants caused the biggest reactions: the flame retardant, tert-butyl-phenyl phosphate, often used on sofas and carpets; pyraclostrobin, an agricultural pesticide; and the plasticiser, dibutyl phthalate, found in plastics, floor sealants, and cosmetics. Each of these chemicals are known endocrine disruptors—or obesogens as they have been aptly dubbed.
[The body’s endocrine system produces, stores, and secretes hormones that play a vital role in maintaining good health. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are mostly man-made, compound substances used in metals, pesticides, additives, and personal care products. EDCs have a suspect connection with the increase in a variety of health issues including: cancer, early puberty, immune function disorders, fertility issues, child neurological disorders, and obesity.]
Of the eleven samples, 10 displayed triglyceride (fat) growth and/or reproduction at significant levels.
Contaminants from seven of the samples triggered undifferentiated cells (precursor fat cells) to differentiate into mature fat cells and accrue more fat, while contaminants from nine of the samples also stimulated the division and multiplication of precursor fat cells. Only one sample remained inactive leading the research team to suggest that the causative chemical(s) would be prevalent in most household environments.
As little as three micrograms of household dust triggered the acceleration of fat development. This level is far below the estimated 50 milligrams (50,000 micrograms) that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claim children are exposed to on a daily basis via ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption. This is an outcome of obvious concern to researchers and health professionals.
“Our studies demonstrate that exposure to a mixture of chemicals found in our home can change the metabolic function of our cells, particularly in children,” said research co-author, Dr Heather Stapleton.
The findings, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, have scientists calling for further research.
Reflecting on the dusting you’ve neglected of late? Me too!
It’s time to break out the gloves, the vacuum cleaner, the duster, and Wettex sponge cloths; considering these results, a face mask wouldn’t go amiss either if you have one. I may have to invest.
To ensure your household is kept as dust free as possible, clean your surfaces regularly. And don’t just haphazardly flick the dust around with an old feather duster; you’ll just make the particles airborne for everyone to inhale.
- Use a microfibre duster that attracts and holds dust particles.
- Drag and slowly turn the duster as you move, don’t swipe back and forth.
- Wear gloves and wipe the dust off the duster into the bin often to avoid build-up.
- Follow with a damp cloth and wipe any residual dust away. Rinse the cloth thoroughly after use.
If the absence of dust doesn’t help reduce your weight, at least the extra housework will. 🙂