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The BCERF program on the Cancer Risks of Environmental Chemicals in the Home and Workplace closed on March 31, 2010. No further updates will be made to this web site. Please go Cornell University’s eCommons web site to access BCERF’s archived research and educational materials (

toy houseHousehold Exposures to Chemicals

As scientists search for clues about how environmental risk factors affect breast cancer, one of the expanding avenues of exploration is household exposures to chemicals.

Household exposure means an exposure that takes place indoors, at home.

Much of the research into chemical exposures has examined occupational settings. A new focus on household exposures will contribute different data and will raise and help to answer different questions.

See the following sections to learn more:

small red square Pathways to Household Exposures

Household exposure can occur in many ways. Some common routes of exposure include the following:

small red square Studying Household Exposures

Environmental monitoring is key to the study of household exposures.

Environmental monitoring is the periodic or continued measurements of chemicals in samples from the soil, water, air or surface dust.

Samples of house dust, air, and examinations of the interior environments of homes as well as interviews and questionnaires are common tools in studies.

Biomonitoring, measurement of a chemical in human tissue or fluid such as blood or urine, is of secondary importance. If a chemical is present in a human tissue or fluid sample, that confirms an exposure, but not where the exposure occurred. Samples from the home environment are needed to confirm that a household exposure could have been the source of the chemical present in a human sample.

More information about environmental monitoring and biomonitoring is available on the BCERF web site in the Biomonitoring and Environmental Monitoring pages.

small red square More Information about Studies and Chemicals