Study Finds Insecticide Residues in U.S. Homes

Insecticides used in and around homes—including products voluntarily removed from the market years ago—were measured on the floors of U.S. residences, according to the first study large enough to generate national data on pesticide residues in homes.

The study was slated for publication in the June 15 issue of the American Chemical Society's semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology. Scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development collected samples with surface wipes from U.S. kitchen floors. Additionally, occupants were surveyed regarding pesticide use and housing factors.

The most frequently detected pesticides, after permethrin (89 percent), were chlorpyrifos (78 percent); chlordane (74 percent); piperonyl butoxide (52 percent); cypermethrin (46 percent); and fipronil (40 percent). While in most cases, the pesticide concentrations measured were low, the insecticides may serve as a potential source of exposure to occupants.

Scientists launched the study to understand the frequency and concentration of pesticide residues that might be found in U.S. homes. Agency scientists plan to further investigate these findings and the study's questionnaire results to explore the relationships between pesticide concentrations found in homes and housing factors (age of home, housing type, occupancy, etc.), geographical location, pet treatments, and recent home pesticide applications.

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