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Pollution at home lurks unrecognized, instead attributed to large-scale environmental disasters
Date:11/20/2008

WASHINGTON, DC Although Americans are becoming increasingly aware of toxic chemical exposure from everyday household products like bisphenol A in some baby bottles and lead in some toys, women do not readily connect typical household products with personal chemical exposure and related adverse health effects, according to research from the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

"People more readily equate pollution with large-scale contamination and environmental disasters, yet the products and activities that form the backdrop to our everyday liveselectronics, cleaners, beauty products, food packagingare a significant source of daily personal chemical exposure that accumulates over time," said sociologist Rebecca Gasior Altman, the lead author of the study, "Pollution Comes Home and Gets Personal: Women's Experience of Household Chemical Exposure."

Altman and her team examined how women interpreted and reacted to information about chemical contamination in their homes and bodies. After reviewing their personal chemical exposure data, most women were surprised and puzzled at the number of contaminants detected. They initially had difficulty relating the chemical results for their homes, located in rural and suburban communities, with their images of environmental problems, which they associated with toxic contamination originating outside the home from military or industrial activities, accidents or dumping.

"This research illustrates how science is beginning to play a paramount role in discovering and redefining environmental problems that are not immediately perceptible through direct experience," Altman said. "Pollution at home has been a blind spot for society. The study documents that an important shift occurs in how people understand environmental pollution, its sources and possible solutions as they learn about chemicals from everyday products that are detectable in urine samples and the household
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Contact: Jackie Cooper
jcooper@asanet.org
202-247-9871
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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