Characterizing azobenzene disperse dyes and related compounds in house dust and their correlations with other organic contaminant classes.


Azobenzene disperse dyes are the fastest-growing category of commercial dyestuffs and are implicated in the literature as potentially allergenic. In the indoor environment, these dyes may be shed from various textiles, including clothing and upholstery and accumulate in dust particles potentially leading to exposure in young children who have higher exposure to chemicals associated with dust due to their crawling and mouthing behaviors. Children may be more vulnerable to dye exposure due to their developing immune systems, and therefore, it is critical to characterize azobenzene disperse dyes in children's home environments. Here, we investigate azobenzene disperse dyes and related compounds in house dust samples (n = 124) that were previously analyzed for flame retardants, phthalates, pesticides and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). High-resolution mass spectrometry was used to support both targeted and suspect screening of dyes in dust. Statistical analyses were conducted to determine if dye concentrations were related to demographic information. Detection frequencies for 12 target dyes ranged from 11% to 89%; of the dyes that were detected in at least 50% of the samples, geometric mean levels ranged from 32.4 to 360 ng/g. Suspect screening analysis identified eight additional high-abundance azobenzene compounds in dust. Some dyes were correlated to numerous flame retardants and several antimicrobials, and statistically higher levels of some dyes were observed in homes of non-Hispanic Black mothers than in homes of non-Hispanic white mothers. To our knowledge, this is the most comprehensive study of azobenzene disperse dyes in house dust to date. Future studies are needed to quantify additional dyes in dust and to examine exposure pathways of dyes in indoor environments where children are concerned.