|Young children can be affected by toxic house dust.|
Dust, a common occurrence in indoor environments, can also carry exposure risks.
That’s because a lot of pollutants can attach themselves to tiny dust particles, and when the dust is disturbed and becomes airborne, it too becomes a respiratory hazard.
Studies show that house dust can contain chemical pollutants such as flame retardants, metals like lead, mercury and poisons like pesticides. Even bacteria and viruses can attach themselves to dust particles and pose exposure risks.
People can track chemicals and dust in from the outside, but they can also be generated by activities that are going on inside, or from the wear-and-tear of common household products.
Children are most at risk because their bodies are still developing and they eat more, drink more and breathe more in proportion to their body size. Young children are also closer to the floor and tend to crawl, touch, chew and explore things by putting them into their mouths.
For these reasons, house dust should not be allowed to accumulate in a home with children or pets, and some experts say it should be treated as an environmental health risk.
Here are some pointers to minimize exposure:
- Clean regularly. You don’t have to overdo it, but setting up a regular cleaning schedule and keeping to it will help avoid the accumulation of dust and particles in the home. Adjust the cleaning schedule for the number of people living under the roof, pets, weather conditions and other factors.
- Clean with moisture. The best way to avoid disturbing existing dust is to vacuum with a HEPA vacuum cleaner and use a wet cloth and mop. You don’t need harsh chemicals in the water, a bit of white vinegar or a few drops of soap will be enough.
- Store toys in closed containers and avoid a lot of knickknacks and clutter in the house.
- Take your shoes off at the door and clean the door mats frequently – separately from your other laundry.
More information: www.healthyenvironmentforkids.ca
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