Could house dust make us fat?

2020/10/15 15:10

Today's Vocabulary

1. precursor (n)  
something that happened or existed before another thing, especially if it either developed into it or had an influence on it

2. disrupt (v)
to prevent something, especially a system, process, or event, from continuing as usual or as expected 

3. ubiquitous (adj) 
seeming to be everywhere

4. extracts (n
a substance taken from a plant, flower, etc. and used especially in food or medicine

5. array (n) 
a large group of things or people, especially one that is attractive or causes admiration or has been positioned in a particular way

6. proliferation (n)
the fact of something increasing a lot and suddenly in number or amount

Could house dust make us fat?

A new study indicates that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals present in house dust may disrupt metabolic health and trigger an increase in body fat, particularly for children.

Researchers from Duke University in Durham, NC, exposed mouse-derived precursor fat cells to small amounts of house dust containing endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). This caused the fat cells to mature and acquire more fat, or triglycerides.

EDCs are man-made or naturally occurring chemicals that can interfere with hormone production and functioning. They are found in an array of products that we come across every day, including pesticides, cosmetics, food packaging, and household cleaning products.

Studies have shown that exposure to EDCs can raise the risk of serious health conditions, including cancer, infertility, and neurodevelopmental disorders. 

To reach their findings, the researchers visited 11 homes in North Carolina and collected samples of indoor dust. The house dust samples were analyzed for levels of EDCs, and the team identified a total of 44 contaminants. Next, the researchers tested extracts of each dust sample on 3T3-L1 cells, which are precursor adipocyte cells derived from mice.

The researchers found that extracts from seven of the house dust samples caused the 3T3-L1 cells to mature into adipocytes and accrue triglycerides, while extracts from nine of the house dust samples triggered cell proliferation, increasing the number of precursor fat cells.

“Only one of 11 dust samples appeared completely inactive, suggesting that the causative chemical(s) are nearly ubiquitous in the indoor environment,” say the authors.


  1. What do you do to get rid of dust in your house?
  2. What other things in the house are harmful to us?
  3. Can we develop dust-free houses?

“We are all dust passing through the air, the difference is, some are flying high in the sky, while others are flying low. But eventually, we all settle on the same ground.”

Anthony Liccione