Household Products May Be Emitting harmful Nanoparticles Posing Health Risk To Children

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A recent study reveals that typical household products emit nanoparticles, imperceptible to the human eye, contributing to indoor air pollution. Simply moving through a room can disperse these particles, posing a potential health risk as people inhale them.

Household products contain harmful nanoparticles

Nanoparticles typically measure between one and 100 nanometers, which is incredibly small, considering a nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Anything smaller than 50,000 nanometers is invisible to the human eye, making nanoparticles undetectable without special equipment. For perspective, a standard sheet of office paper is 100,000 nanometers thick.

Household sprays like disinfectants, cleaners, hair sprays, sunscreens, powders and cosmetic mists, leave residual nanoparticles on floors and carpet fibers, which can also be suspended in the air up to three to five feet. This increases the risk of inhalation, especially for children who are closer to the floor.

Gediminas Mainelis, a professor at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, highlights that when adults walk in a room and disturb these particles, they can be re-suspended in the air, reaching breathing zones.

Industries increasingly utilize nanoparticles, such as silver, zinc or  copper, in household products due to their unique properties at a microscopic scale. These particles exhibit diverse characteristics, including strong magnetism, enhanced thermal or electrical conductivity, light reflection, and color alteration.

There is scant research on the enduring health impacts of nanoparticle exposure. Previous studies revealed that pollutant particles adhering to surfaces might re-enter the air when disturbed by movement. Yet, it remained unclear if this phenomenon extended to consumer sprays utilizing nanotechnology until this investigation.

Children have higher concentration of particles than adults

Researchers conducted an experiment in a controlled laboratory chamber with carpeting and vinyl flooring. They sprayed seven different products containing silver, zinc, and copper nanoparticles into the air. Wearing protective gear, the researchers walked on the surfaces, while a small robot simulated a child’s movements.

Children were found to have higher exposure to particle concentrations than adults, especially those stuck on carpets compared to vinyl surfaces. The study concluded that particle concentration in the air varied depending on the product used.

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