People should keep their homes spotless if they want to avoid putting on weight, new research suggests.
A pioneering study in the US revealed that normal house dust is capable of carrying hormone-altering chemicals that prompt cells in the body to accumulate fat.
Experiments found that even small amounts of dust, which can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin, were enough to provoke the effect.
The quantities were significantly lower than the amounts to which children are averagely exposed.
The dust particles were found to contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), synthetic or naturally occurring compounds that can interfere with or mimic the body’s hormones.
These include flame retardants in sofas and carpets, as well as phthalates, substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility.
It was already known that EDCs present a range of other potential health risks, including being associated with cognitive problems and learning disabilities, and putative research had suggested that exposure in early life may also cause weight gain later in life.
However, the new experiments by Duke University in North Carolina showed for the first time that house dust, laced with EDC chemicals, can cause cells to accumulate more fat.