By Ogova Ondego
Published January 30, 2017
Air-fresheners, deodorisers, disinfectants, pesticides and insect repellents fill not just our cars, offices, bathrooms, planes, cinemas, farms, factories but also our homes. This could be referred to both as a necessary evil and as the curse of the 21st century.
World Health Organisation (WHO), the specialised agency of the United Nations in charge of health issues, not only estimates that chemical manufacturing is a US$1.5 trillion industry but that more than 2000 chemicals are produced every year due to their high demand in our lives. The data has no doubt changed as it was released at the turn of the 20th century; barely 17 years ago. Since then, the amount of hygiene and personal care chemicals—deodorants, nice-smelling soaps, sprays, perfumes, anti-sweat roll-ons, jellies, creams, powders and lotions, colognes, toothpastes and mouthwashes—has continued to grow on almost a daily basis.
Far from being harmless, these chemicals not only contaminate us but our surroundings as well.
Awake! , a magazine that usually carries well researched and well written content, contends that the main source of pollution in our homes are fumes from cleaning compounds, building materials, fuels and chemicals from dry-cleaned clothes. Even chemicals in sealed containers, the publication warns, send ‘off-gassing’ fumes.
So how can you and I make our home safer from chemicals?
Awake! suggests the following guidelines from Environmental Poisons in Our Food:
- Store most chemicals that give off vapours—formaldehyde, paint, varnish, adhesives, cleaning solutions, pesticides—where they will not contaminate air in the home. Volatile petroleum products like benzene could cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm if someone is exposed to their vapour over an extended period
- Have good ventilation in all rooms, including the bathroom
- Wipe your feet or remove your shoes before stepping indoor
- If you treat a room with a pesticide, keep toys out of it for at least a fortnight as certain plastics and foam found in toys soak up pesticide residues which may be absorbed by children through their skins or mouth
- Minimise your use of pesticides
- Remove flaking leaded paint from all surfaces and repaint with unleaded paint
- Do not allow children to play in dirt contaminated with leaded paint , and
- If you suspect lead in plumbing, flush the cold water tap until there is a noticeable change in water temperature. Water from the hot water tap should not be used for drinking.