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Estimating exposures to indoor contaminants using residential dust.


Residential dust has been used as a medium for assessing human exposures to a constellation of indoor contaminants including radionuclides, persistent organic pollutants, metals, allergens, and tobacco smoke. Here, we review and comment on investigations of household dust levels of particular analytes of health significance, namely polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In doing so, we not only describe methods for collecting and analyzing residential dust, but also describe global patterns in dust levels. Aside from geographic location, we discuss several potential determinants for dust levels of these contaminants. We also review previous estimates of the contribution of dust to overall intake of these three chemical classes and show how residential-dust measurements could be useful in either augmenting or replacing questionnaire-based assessment of human exposures in epidemiological studies. We conclude our review with a discussion of the current gaps in knowledge of worldwide dust levels and suggestions for how residential-dust measurements could be used to describe human exposures to chemicals in developing countries.