Monday, April 02, 2012

Chemical Sensitivities in Children – Strategies for the Home - Part 1

Chemical sensitivities have been tied to a number of childhood abnormalities, from behavioral issues and over-all temperament to skin disorders and chronic allergies. According to the American Lung Association, chemical exposure in the home can also lead to asthma and even lung disease. The threat of chemical exposure in the home is very real, and can affect children and adults alike.

Things that might make your child more susceptible to chemical toxicity include genetics, a compromised immune system, a lower metabolism, nutritional issues, and stress. Oftentimes, symptoms will arise that are difficult for medical professionals to diagnose and these may be indicative of chemical sensitivities. Unfortunately, chemical sensitivity is not fully understood by the medical community because it is difficult to replicate the symptoms in a laboratory environment and chemical sensitivity manifests in a myriad of ways.

If you suspect that your child may be suffering from chemical sensitivities, it is vital that you limit their chemical exposure in the home. Thankfully, this is not as difficult as it sounds and simply requires some mindfulness and small changes to one’s lifestyle.

There are 5 primary areas we are most exposed to chemicals in our home – via cleaning agents, air, water, food and toiletries. In this post we will discuss the first two: toxic household cleaning agents and poor air quality.

Toxic House Hold Cleaning Agents

Household cleaners are the most common sources of harsh, toxic chemicals in the home. Some of the most common toxic chemicals in the home include:

  • Butyl cellosolve – A common component of popular all-purpose and window cleaners that has been linked to bone marrow, nervous system, kidney and liver damage.
  • Chlorinated phenols – A common toilet bowl cleaner that has been linked to respiratory and circulatory system damage.
  • Diethylene glycol – A common window cleaning agent believed to depress the nervous system.
  • Phenols – A common disinfectant that has been linked to respiratory and circulatory system issues.
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylate – A common chemical found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners that is currently banned in Europe because it biodegrades into increasingly more toxic compounds.
  • Formaldehyde – A preservative often used in deodorizers that is a respiratory irritant and possible carcinogen.
  • Petroleum solvents – These petroleum derivatives are used in floor cleaners and are linked to mucous membrane damage, which in turn compromises the immune system.
  • Perchloroethylene – Commonly found in spot removers, these toxic compounds have been linked to both liver and kidney damage.

On top of all these chemicals, many cleaning agents are also antibacterial, killing off the naturally occurring beneficial bacteria in your home’s ecosystem. The result is a dangerous, toxic, out-of-wack ecosystem... right in your home.

Rather than introducing these toxic compounds and killing off the beneficial bacteria in your home space, rely on natural, non-toxic alternatives that are intended to purify your home environment, returning it to a healthy, non-toxic state. There are a number of non-toxic home cleaners and microbial inoculant based deodorizers that will help keep your home clean, without compromising your family’s health. Products like EM-1 work exceedingly well on biologically based odors, like those found in your sink, bathtub, toilet, and even the litter box. In fact, EM-1 is more effective than any toxic chemical when it comes to neutralizing animal related smells because the beneficial bacteria actually breaks down the organic compounds rather than simply masking the odor.

Poor Air Quality

Another area of exposure that can pose a risk to children with chemical sensitivities is the air quality in the home. The EPA estimates that we spend about 90% of our time indoors and that indoor air can be 2 to 5 times more polluted that the outdoors. If you want cleaner air in the home, start by eliminating the primary culprits: toxic chemicals, cigarette smoke, and excess moisture which leads to dust mites and mold.

The American Lung Association recommends that you limit the home’s exposure to these components by:

  • Regularly ventilating the home by opening windows
  • Installing a carbon monoxide detector
  • Incorporating a few air purifiers thorough the home
  • Never idle the car in your garage
  • Test for radon
  • Use low-VOC paint – you can even treat paint with a microbial inoculant to decrease toxic fumes and Super Cera Ceramic Powder to stop off-gassing of toxic chemicals.
  • Regularly clean/inspect your air conditioner and/or humidifier. Add a microbial inoculant such as EM-1® in a humidifier to freshen a room.
  • Avoid toxic pesticides.
  • Air out dry cleaned clothes before bringing them inside or better yet, use an eco-friendly, non-toxic dry cleaner...there are now some dry cleaners who are using EM Technology® products too!

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