Dusting protects children from toxic chemicals

Removing house dust is the best way to minimise toxic exposure, particularly for infants and in pregnancy

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That mundane household chore, dusting, has been named the best way to limit children’s exposure to toxic substances in the home by Health Canada researchers.

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A recent study shows that particles of lead were found in all tested homes in numbers varying from eight to 3916 parts per million.

“House dust is a major source of children’s exposures to toxic substances including lead which, even at very low levels, is known to be harmful to the developing brain,” said Professor Bruce Lanphear from Simon Fraser University, Canada.

“An infant will absorb about 50 percent of ingested lead, whereas an adult absorbs about 10 percent. This, combined with children’s frequent hand-to-mouth behaviour, places children at much greater risk.”

Researchers also recommended that pregnant women as well as children should stay away from rooms being renovated to minimise exposure to dust and toxic fumes from paints and glues.

“The time of greatest vulnerability is in the womb,” according to Erica Phipps, of the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment.

Other ways in which exposure to harmful substances in the home can be avoided is to switch to non-toxic cleaners and be wary of potential toxins in plastics and some types of fish.

Erica said, “If parents take simple actions in these five areas, they can significantly reduce their children’s exposures to toxics – and even save money.”

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