It’s simple really. ‘Get out the hoover and mop the floor – regularly.’
But a research group are concerned that simple house dust can affect the development of children’s brains, because of the toxic substances which it exposes infants to.
Canadian professor, Bruce Lanphear, published a dust study which shows that lead, mercury and tobacco particles in the home can affect babies and toddlers even in small amounts.
According to Professor Lanphear, ‘An infant will absorb about 50 per cent of ingested lead, whereas an adult absorbs about 10 per cent… This, combined with children’s frequent hand-to-mouth behaviour, places children at much greater risk.’
Has the toxic time-bomb finally exploded?
The effects are worrying: learning and behavioural disorders, asthma, cancer and birth defects. Lanphear actually connects exposure to lead with criminal activity, but toxins can also have an impact on a child’s education, violent tendencies and general contribution to society.
So what can a parent do?
■ Dust your house twice a week.
Use a damp cloth and wet mop as this collects dust better. Put away toys and leave shoes at the door as these can contribute to a dirty environment.
■ Use non-toxic cleaning.
Bleach isn’t needed for most cleaning and air fresheners should be avoided. In fact, fragrance-free detergents and non-toxic dry cleaning laundrettes are recommended. You can find lots of ‘green’ cleaning agents at GoodnessDirect.
■ Seal off rooms when decorating.
This is especially important in older homes where lead is more prevalent. Ventilate decorated rooms well and use heaters. Aim to buy less toxic chemical products for your DIY.
■ Pack away the plastic.
Generall avoid cooking with plastic, especially in the microwave, even if the bowl says “microwave safe”. Plastic toys and other items which are made of plastic and that children might bite are generally advised against.
■ Go for sustainably fished fish
This is because of the mercury found in certain types of fish and shellfish, particularly tuna. However, sustainably fished tuna and mackerel, herring, rainbow trout and salmon carry less mercury generally.