How toxic house dust poses a real danger to your beloved cat

STOCKHOLM — Indoor cats are prone to laze around the house for hours, chasing bugs and imaginary mice. Owners often find their antics adorable – and even encourage them. But, according to a recent study, you may want to let your precious feline out for some fresh air.

A new study finds that cats may be ingesting a cocktail of chemicals from common items found inside the house.

That’s because toxic chemicals contained in everything from your cat’s favorite sofa to the TV she likes to perch on get mixed with house dust – and over time, they can make your furry friend very sick.

Researchers at Stockholm University conducted the study as part of a larger investigation of disease-inducing endocrine disruptors found in homes.  They took samples from the blood of house cats and compared them with the contents of the dust found accumulating in bedrooms and living rooms. Their findings were published in the February 2017 issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Flame retardants are putting your cat at risk

The biggest chemical culprit turns out to be brominated flame retardants typically added to textiles, furniture and electronic equipment, ostensibly to prevent the material from igniting. Studies have shown these chemicals to be health hazards which can result in thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, among other problems. The Stockholm researchers noted that these chemicals – many of them long since banned – can leech into house dust over many years to be consumed by house cats and other pets.

And not just pets.  The researchers also noted that small children may well be susceptible to breathing in the same house dust, though unlike house cats they usually spend at least some time outdoors.

“The brominated flame retardants that have been measured in cats are known endocrine disruptors. It’s particularly serious when small children ingest these substances because exposure during the development can have consequences later in life, such as thyroid disease,” said Jana Weiss, one of the study directors, in a Stockholm University release.

Weiss’ research team will present all of their findings on the effect of dust and indoor air quality at a final conference in Stockholm on November 29, 2017.

Their findings, if publicized, could well lead to tougher environmental guidelines – including a national flammability standard — to keep our playful kids and kittens safe from toxic chemicals.


  1. The chemical can “leach” into dust, not leech. Spell-check is no substitute for a working knowledge of English vocabulary.

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