Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring Cleaning or How Toxic is Your Home?

How toxic is your home?

Spotless, fresh-smelling home has been a dream of every housewife since the introduction of television set into ordinary households. The trend intensified in the 1950s and 1960s and continues to this day. Clever marketing strategies were perfected over decades to sell ever growing number of products promising to make your laundry whiter, your floor cleaner, and your sink shiner than ever. The commercial ads are omnipresent and the promise very tempting. 

Unfortunately both, the desire for cleanliness and the promise of thereof, carry unexpected dangers to health. On the one hand, sterilized environment prevents our immune systems from developing natural resistance to common germs. On the other, many products contain chemicals that may be harmful or even toxic to our health. 

The fear of germs and frequent use of germicides created a paradox with very sad consequences, especially for young children. In 1989 a so called "hygiene hypothesis" was first presented by D.P. Strachan who postulated that reduced early childhood exposure to germs resulted in increased occurrence of hay fever and allergies. Microbial diversity is necessary for the immune system to develop immune tolerance. Immune system learns to identify pathogens and to fight them off. Lack of exposure to microbes is believed to lead to a faulty immune system that expresses itself in increased susceptibility to disease.  

The use of harmful or even toxic chemicals to keep our homes clean not only increases occurrence of asthma and allergies, but it may lead to the so called environmental illness where the immune system is unable to deal with every day toxins and simply collapses. Even the smallest amount of chemicals can trigger immune system reactions. Autoimmune diseases are often the consequence of malfunctioning, oversensitive immune system. 

 The natural way

With a growing environmental consciousness consumers also opt for products that do not harm or unnecessarily pollute our already fragile environment. This trend created a paradigm change for manufacturers as well. This change comes with a price. The "cleaner" cleaning products are often more expensive and not every household can afford to buy them. This is really a pity because, on the long run, a small investment could mean a much healthier home and much smaller medical bills in the future. 

To prevent allergies and other diseases, including cancer, many households, especially those with young children and pets, are turning to natural products. More and more people resolve to traditional home-made recipes that utilize common household goods such as alcohol, vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, salt and lemon juice. We do not have to be poisoned simply because we want to stay clean. Our grandmothers managed their households with a few time-proven recipes and made sure that our parents grew up healthy. Such recipes were passed from one generation to another and the time is ripe for their renaissance.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2015