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High levels of a previously unknown pollutant have been found in homes

High levels of a previously unknown pollutant have been found in homes, an electronic waste recycling facility and in the natural environment in Canada.

Known as TDTBPP, it is part of a family of chemicals widely used as insecticides that are known to be toxic.

People are likely to be exposed to this pollutant by breathing contaminated dust or through skin contact, experts say. 

High levels of a previously unknown pollutant have been found in homes, an electronic waste recycling facility and in the natural environment in Canada (stock image)

WHAT IS TDTBPP?

Little information is known about the toxicity of TDTBPP or how it gets into our environment.

The chemical can be used as a flame retardant.

It can also make consumer products more flexible.

Similar chemicals are often used in the production of plastics, wires and electronic equipment.

Researchers from Indiana University found TDTBPP, full name tri(2,4-di-t-butylphenyl) phosphate, in dust samples from an e-waste dismantling facility in Ontario, Canada.

They also studied dust from 20 residential homes in Ontario and analysed outdoor samples from southwestern Lake Michigan.

They measured the amounts of TDTBPP in ambient air, water and sediment and found levels were particularly high in house dust.

‘We found surprisingly high levels of TDTBPP everywhere we looked,’ said study lead author Dr Marta Venier.

‘The fact that this potentially toxic chemical is so abundant, but was previously unknown, is another example of the ineffective management of chemicals in the United States.’

Many common commercial chemicals, including TDTBPP, are not subject to regulatory scrutiny under the US Toxic Substances Control Act unless they are used for new purposes.

Much of the information about their commercial use is private.

Therefore, it is difficult for environmental chemists to track how these pollutants enter the environment and what kind of effects they might cause once they do.

Chemicals similar to TDTBPP are often used in the production of plastics, wires, printed circuit boards and electronic equipment, making e-waste recycling facilities an important place to search for previously undetected pollutants (stock image)

Chemicals similar to TDTBPP are often used in the production of plastics, wires, printed circuit boards and electronic equipment, making e-waste recycling facilities an important place to search for previously undetected pollutants (stock image)

Many chemicals go undetected until scientists perform a general environmental scan, like the Indiana University study.

Chemicals similar to TDTBPP are often used in the production of plastics, wires, printed circuit boards and electronic equipment, making e-waste recycling facilities an important place to search for previously undetected pollutants.

Little information is known about the toxicity of TDTBPP or how it gets into our environment.

The chemical can be used as a flame retardant or to make consumer products more flexible, researchers warn. 

‘Our research is the first step,’ Dr Venier added. 

‘Now that we know that TDTBPP is prevalent, especially in homes, scientists can flag it for further study and focus on understanding the effects of TDTBPP on people.’

The study was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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