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Health Matters

Why Spring Cleaning is Good for Your Kids' Health!

April 27th, 2015

What Indoor Toxins Are Lurking In Your Home? Modified from: ASHRAE -

By Dr. Keshia Kamphius

It is that time of year again - the winter thaw is almost complete and the days are getting longer. It is spring and our almost instinctive desire to clean house kicks in! Did you know that we spend about 90 per cent of our time indoors? Most people know the harmful effects of outdoor air pollution, but don't consider that our indoor living environments can be just as 'polluted', especially because we are indoors so often. Children are particularly vulnerable to indoor toxin exposures.

Target these five common indoor pollutants to get the most out of your spring cleaning!

  1. Chemicals: You may not think you have chemicals in your home, but they may be lurking in places you don't suspect! Parents are often surprised to know that plug-in air fresheners and paraffin candles contain chemicals like formaldehyde and phalates. These chemicals can alter hormone balance in adults or children, and cause other health problems. Fabric softeners and anti-static dryer sheets release chemicals onto clothing, which can irritate the skin and lungs. 

                Health Tip -Use essential oils in a nebulizer instead of air fresheners to add a light fragrance to your home. Choose beeswax or soy based candles instead of paraffin candles. Use 1/2 cup white vinegar in a Downy Ball for a natural anti-static and fabric softening effect!

  1. Fire Retardants: Up to 90% of children's furniture that contains foam has been treated with chemical fire retardants! Studies suggest that these flame retardants are actually not as effective as once thought at reducing fires, and they can have detrimental effects on children's health.

                Health Tip - Avoid furniture products that list TB117 on the label. Think about replacing any children's furniture that contains 'polyurethane foam' as this will more likely have had chemical treatment. Sling back chairs and products filled with cotton, wool or polyester fibre are great options for kids!

  1. Mold: This allergen is present in many homes, especially basements and bathrooms. It is associated with respiratory issues in children, like asthma. Keep on the lookout for water stains on ceilings, floors or walls, cracking paint or condensation on windows. These all indicate a moisture problem and likely a mold problem!

                Health Tip - Use a dehumidifier in your basement if your humidity levels are above 60%. Wash your shower curtain regularly to reduce mildew build up and use a fan in the bathroom while in use.

  1. Dust : Many people find it hard to believe that dust is one of the most significant indoor toxic substances!  Not only is it a respiratory allergen, but it also contains fire retardants, phalates, pesticides, and heavy metals like lead. Some of these toxins are tracked in from outdoors, while others come from household goods and furniture.

                Health Tip - Keep children's play areas as dust-free as possible and avoid carpets if you can! Take off all shoes before coming into the house to minimize outdoor pollutants being tracked into the house.

  1. Cleaners: Harsh household cleaners are rarely necessary and contribute to chemical and toxins on surfaces. We inhale their vapors and kids absorb the residue that they leave behind through their skin.

                Health tip:  Skip the toxic cleaners and use baking soda and lemon juice or vinegar in your spring cleaning this year. Be especially careful to use a natural floor cleaner if you have very young kids that spend most of their time crawling on the floor!

The spring spurs us to lighten up, get rid of stuff we no longer need, clean out the forgotten corners and start the season anew. This spring, clean your house with health in mind!

Dr. Keshia Kamphuis, BSc, ND, CD(DONA) is a naturopathic doctor and certified labor doula, and is currently practicing at Aspire Natural Medicine in Red Deer, Alberta. She is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan and completed her naturopathic medical training at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Ontario. She has a special interest in fertility, labor preparation and pregnancy care, but treats a wide variety of conditions in children and adults including digestive concerns, fatigue, psychological/behavioral concerns, thyroid issues and stress-related illnesses. Find her at:


Tags: advice, health

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