Gradually, we’re becoming more and more aware of the harmful effects chemicals contained in everyday products have on our mental and physical wellbeing, from the heavy metals found in some anti-perspirant deodorant to the chemicals injected into our mass-produced food. While the long-term effects of ingesting some of these compounds are still unknown, more and more evidence is coming to light which makes the case for us to aim for a greener lifestyle. A lifestyle that is kinder to the planet and our bodies. This comes into particular focus when you have young children.
It’s a natural position as a parent to want to protect them from exposure to harm in any way that we can, and that includes the threats which can be found in our own homes. Studies have linked overexposure to toxic chemicals found in the home with brain and central nervous system damage, developmental and behavioural problems, asthma, immune diseases, cancer and other serious conditions. There are a lot of small changes that we can make to the things that we buy and the way that we live that can collectively have a huge positive impact. Start by making a few small changes along the way, and you can work from there. The result? A happier, healthier home and a safer environment for children to play and learn.
Ensure Air Quality
Studies suggest that one of the areas with the greatest impact on our health is air quality. Air-bourne pollutants cannot be seen but they can cause or aggravate some very nasty diseases, especially in those with compromised immune systems, such as elderly people, newborn babies, patients recovering from cancer treatment or small children. The air quality in our homes isn’t something we’ve traditionally considered much, but as an environment where you can have a large measure of control, and where it’s easy to make a positive change it definitely needs to be considered. The cleaning products we use, building materials, cooking processes and even that lovely scented candle you’ve been burning all contribute to air pollution in the home. Try switching out your chemical cleaning sprays for natural alternatives such as white vinegar, baking soda and unperfumed solid soaps. These items can provide a really effective clean without all of the added chemical nasties. If you miss the artificial ‘clean home’ smell, try adding a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil to a spray bottle solution, or dabbing some neat oil onto your lightbulbs or radiators to fill your home with a luxurious smell. Always make sure that your space for cooking is well ventilated – if you have an extractor fan, treat it to yearly servicing and a regular clean to prevent deposits of grease and dust from building up and reducing it’s effectiveness, and try to ensure that windows are open also during the cooking process. Outdoor pollution can travel into your home as well, so if you do have an immune compromised member of the family, check the Air Quality Index from Defra and keep the windows shut when it’s high.
Create A Non-Toxic Garden
Our gardens are often the place where family congregates and enjoys time together. And making sure we have a non-toxic environment in the great outdoors to keep children and pets safe is easier than it may sound. Start off by switching to organic, pet-and-kid-safe pest control to make sure animals and children don’t ingest toxic pesticides. For example, if you have a problem with slugs in your garden, look into using Nematodes – pet and wildlife friendly microorganisms – in place of traditional chemical solutions like slug pellets. If you don’t have a large outdoor space to consider, you may even want to look at replacing a lawn or patio area with artificial grass. Some brands these days contain antibacterial agents which help to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. Pets and children can also play on artificials lawns without being exposed to pesticides and fertilisers, or any of the toxic chemicals needed to maintain a real turf. Artificial grass has come a huge way in recent years, and if you order some samples from a supplier such as New Lawn Artificial Grass Ltd you may be pleasantly surprised at the variety of natural-looking, super low maintenance options available.
Cut Out The Plastic
A huge culprit of toxicity in the home is the synthetically manufactured chemical Bisphenol A (otherwise known as BPA). This is present in most plastic containers, from water and baby bottles to lunch boxes. It can be absorbed into the body though skin contact and has a disruptive effect on the endocrine system and the delicate balance of hormones in the body. Up to 95 per cent of all adults show traces of BPA in their bodies – a frightening statistic, A study from the University of Exeter has shown that avoiding over processed and pre-packaged foods can really help to limit this exposure, and ensure that all baby and toddler foods are stored and served in glass and metal containers or BPA-free plastic containers.
Tackle Home Repairs
Dust in our homes may seem harmless enough, but studies have identified up to 45 toxic chemicals which are contained in the mix. Coming from a wide variety of sources, dust in the home effectively acts as a trap for harmful chemical components. Luckily the steps to reduce its impact are fairly straightforward. Simply washing your and your children’s hands regularly with plain soap and water, dusting surfaces with a damp microfibre cloth and switching to a vacuum with a particulate air filter, otherwise known as a HEPA filter, can all help. Tackling sources of damp and mould cna also help to lessen threats to the immune system and the risk of contracting respiratory diseases. Start by reducing the build-up of condensation by ensuring air circulation in the home is maintained via fans, air bricks, window vents and keeping doors and windows open where possible. If you do already have mould, it must be removed carefully in order to prevent the spreading of spores.