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Lawn Herbicides End Up in House Dust

by aseligmann — last modified Aug 06, 2010 12:00 AM

Do herbicides used on your lawn end up inside your house? There are only a few scientific studies that have tried to answer this question. A new study from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) adds to the evidence that herbicides used on lawns are tracked inside houses where they can persist for months or years.

Do herbicides used on your lawn end up inside your house? There are only a few scientific studies that have tried to answer this question. A new study from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) adds to the evidence that herbicides used on lawns are tracked inside houses where they can persist for months or years.

How was the study conducted?

Scientists from NCI and 5 other medical research institutions across the country interviewed randomly selected people in Detroit, Iowa, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Each person who participated in the study answered questions about the pesticides used in their home, yard, and garden. Each person also provided the researchers with a used vacuum cleaner bag containing household dust. The researchers then analyzed the dust for pesticides, and looked for associations between the amount of pesticides in the dust and the pesticides used in and around the home.

What did the study find?

Use of lawn care herbicides is common: about half of the people in this study used them. The common lawn care herbicide 2,4-D was one of the pesticides most frequently found in the dust samples and was one of the pesticides found in the highest concentrations. People who used herbicides on their lawns had higher levels of 2,4-D in dust from their homes than people who didn't. There was also an association between 2,4-D levels in household dust and the number of times lawn herbicides had been used; more lawn care herbicide use meant higher levels in dust.

Study Summary and Article: Colt, J.S. et al. 2004. Comparison of pesticide levels in carpet dust and self-reported pest treatment practices in four US sites. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 14: 74-83