Dogs could sniff out hazardous chemicals in the home

by Mark James on April 28, 2011

A new study has revealed that dogs could act as “biosentinels” for restricting exposure to toxic chemicals in the household.

We all know that dogs are interested in smelling everything – even the late afternoon parping that heralds the coursing of your breakfast burrito through your digestive system – but environmental scientists think that they could help sniff out harmful compounds, such as flame retardant chemicals, that may be present around the house.

The conclusion was reached by researchers at Indiana University studying the amount of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in dogs’ blood. The test subjects were found to have levels ten times that of humans, which suggests that the metabolism of a dog is much better able to break down such chemicals.

PDBEs have been much used to render electronic equipment and household furniture resistant to fire. However, studies have shown that they are able to enter the environment, causing a potential health hazard around the home, as they display a tendency to accumulate in the body.

Marta Venier, an environmental scientist involved in the study at Indiana University, said:

“Even though they’ve been around for quite a while… The bottom line is that we still need to keep measuring them, particularly in homes.”

PDBEs have been outlawed by the European Union, and were withdrawn from the American market in 2004. The USA aims to completely phase them out by 2013.

We at Dream Dogs think that your dog’s sensitive snout can be put to use for other pressing matters, such as:

  • Not sure if the bottle of milk that you opened two weeks ago has turned? Let your pooch check, and if it has, save for your guests’ coffee.
  • Is your work shirt clean? Sure, it may have been on your bedroom floor for a month and have some mildew in the armpits, but your dog can tell you if you can squeeze one more day of wear out of it.
  • You can use your faithful companion to help recommend Indian restaurants. An indicator of the quality of a curry is the havoc it wreaks on your tract the next day. Any guff that sends your pet running for cover with tears streaming from his eyes can be safely recommended to friends.

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