A few years ago, I never would have imagined that dust could be such an issue. I saw it as nothing more than an “unsightly” lack of motivation on my part. Much to my dismay, house dust now tops the list as one of the most significant sources of childhood exposure to toxic substances.
Chemicals can literally accumulate in household dust for decades, so beating down those dust bunnies is important, especially for children who can be exposed to chemicals in many different ways. Babies and young kids are also more susceptible than adults for the following reasons:
- They're still developing, so exposure to toxic chemicals at key points in the process may result in long-term health damage.
- They breathe more air than adults do and also commonly mouth-breath, which increases their risk of exposure to chemicals in dust that would normally be filtered out in the nose.
- Children have a higher heart rate than adults, allowing substances that are absorbed into the blood to permeate tissues faster.
- Infants have a greater surface area of skin than adults, increasing their potential dermal absorption of certain compounds.
Top 10 Ways to Bust that Dust
- Vacuum regularly. Use a HEPA filter to reduce concentrations of lead, phthalates and brominated fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs) and to help keep dust and dirt from being blown back out through the vacuum exhaust. Don't forget to don't forget to vacuum padded furniture, where flame-retardants accumulate in large amounts.
- Mop after vacuuming to grab dust left behind by the vacuum.
- Wipe window ledges and chewable surfaces such as desks, tables, and cribs.
- Damp-dust electronics to prevent flame retardants from building up in the dust there too.
- Wash toys and stuffed animals regularly.
- Make sure that little ones practice handwashing before meals and at bedtime. Simple soap and water will do the job.
- Take shoes off before coming inside and use floor mats at every door (a shocking number of chemicals come in on the dirt on our shoes).
- Consider having your ducts cleaned. The EPA recommends having ducts cleaned if they are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.
- Remember that the exposure isn't just at home. The EPA reports that 50 percent of schools have poor indoor air quality too. Research shows that a typical classroom has 50 to 300 VOC's present in the air. The primary source of these pollutants is chemical emissions from interior products such as furnishings, building materials, and cleaning supplies.
- Choose products made from safer materials to prevent toxic chemicals from leaching out and sloughing off into household dust. Check for Green Guard certified products for school and home.