Pesticides Found on Floors of Most U.S. Homes

Insecticides used in and around homes, including products voluntarily removed from the market years ago, were found on the floors of a high number of U.S. homes in a study announced this week.

The results, reported in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, were derived from samples taken from hard-surface floors in a nationally representative sample of 500 residential homes in 2005 and 2006. The study was conducted by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The most commonly detected chemicals and the percentage of floors on which they were found:

  • Permethrin (89%)
  • Chlorpyrifos (78%)
  • Chlordane (64%)
  • Piperonyl butoxide (52%)
  • Cypermethrin (46%)
  • Fipronil (40%)

"The popularity and availability of residential-use insecticides have transitioned over the last 30 years," the scientists write. "The high detection frequencies observed for chlordane, chlorpyrifos, and permethrin suggest these compounds are essentially ubiquitous in our living areas and that popular use, both past and present, has a major influence on their occurrence in homes."

No recommendations were made.

"These findings represent a first step to providing baseline data for understanding the types of pesticides found in residences and temporal changes in chemical loadings," the report states. "They are also useful for determining potential occupant exposure to insecticide residues."

Live Science Staff
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