The following program is adapted from POWER HEALING by Leo Galland M.D. (Random House, 1998)
1. KICK OFF YOUR SHOES
The soil around most homes is contaminated with lead, pesticides, lawn chemicals and toxic wood preservatives. In homes where people routinely remove their shoes upon entering, the levels of these in house dust are far lower than in homes where people do not routinely remove shoes. Carpeting holds up to a hundred times the amount of dust as bare flooring and the lead levels in carpet dust may exceed levels requiring clean-up at Superfund sites. Toxins trapped in home carpets pose a particular hazard to crawling toddlers.
2. FILTER YOUR WATER
Chlorine reacts with organic matter dissolved in water to form cancer-promoting substances called trihalomethanes (THMs), of which the best known is chloroform. Municipal water supplies and wells can also be contaminated by industrial chemicals dumped into soil. Activated charcoal removes most of these pollutants from tap water. Because many of the pollutants are volatile and evaporate upon heating, contaminating the air your children breathe, filter the water used for cooking as well as for drinking. It also makes sense to use a charcoal filter on your shower head.
3. USE NATURAL METHODS OF PEST CONTROL
Several studies show an association between childhood cancer rates and the use of pesticides in the home and in the yard. Thirty-three of the thirty-four most commonly used lawn chemicals have never been tested for safety to humans. Many effective alternatives to chemical pesticides exist.
4. KEEP THE DUST DOWN
House dust is a haven for lead and for chemicals called VOC's (volatile organic compounds) which evaporate from a large number of building materials and household products. The more dust in the air, the more toxins your child inhales. All horizontal surfaces should be wet-mopped at least twice a week. Carpeting should be vacuumed twice a week, preferably using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
5. KEEP COMPUTERS OUT OF THE BEDROOM
VOC's (including the carcinogen benzene) evaporate from computer circuitry, laser and ink printers and fax machines in operation. Keep the computers in one room, preferably not a bedroom. Run an exhaust fan to refresh room air, and try to do all printing at a time when you and your children can leave the room. An air purifier with an activated charcoal filter may also be helpful.
6. WASH HANDS WHEN COMING HOME FROM OUTSIDE AND BEFORE EATING OR HANDLING FOOD
Many toxins, like many germs, hitchhike to your mouth on your fingers. Children at risk for lead toxicity can effectively lower blood lead levels by careful dust control combined with regular hand washing before meals.
7. USE SAFE HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS
Consumer goods and household products release hundreds of different VOCs into the air. They come from caulking and adhesives, latex paint, polyurethane varnish, vinyl floor and wall coverings, floor wax, furniture polish, moth balls, air fresheners, toilet bowl deodorizers, plastics. Some of the VOCs found in indoor air are suspected of promoting cancer in humans. Concern over the safety of cleaning solutions and VOCs has created a demand for less toxic alternatives. Many of these are readily available and no more expensive than more toxic products.
8. AVOID EXCESS MOISTURE
Moisture supports the growth of mold and mildew, which contribute to childhood allergies, respiratory infections and possibly to leukemia. In homes where two or more people develop leukemia, a mold called Stachybotris grows, producing a group of immune-suppressive, cancer-promoting toxins called tricothecenes. To prevent mold growth, investigate and correct any sign of moisture accumulation in your home, including seasonal condensation in basement, attic or living space, and leaks from any source. Do not carpet areas prone to dampness, like bathrooms and basements. Remove any material that harbors fungal growth--rotten food, old wood, furnishings or building materials that have been damaged by water. Surfaces where mold regularly grows, especially shower stalls and curtains and the damp areas beneath sinks, should be cleaned weekly with a non-toxic antiseptic solution such as hydrogen peroxide diluted with an equal part of water. Maintain a relative humidity of less than fifty per cent in each room of your home, using a dehumidifier if necessary. Relative humidity can be measured with an inexpensive meter, available in hardware stores.
9. CHECK YOUR APPLIANCES
Stoves, heaters and dryers produce the gas nitrogen dioxide as a by-product of combustion. Nitrogen dioxide is a respiratory tract irritant that can increase the spread of cancer in animals. Its main indoor sources are appliances that burn natural gas and kerosene space heaters. Nitrogen dioxide emissions in homes are greatly reduced by venting appliances to the outside and by the electrical ignition of gas stoves rather than the use of a pilot light.
10. DOWN WITH FORMALDEHYDE
This embalming fluid is almost inescapable in modern indoor environments, released into the air from the glue which holds together particleboard and plywood. High humidity or moisture disintegrates the glue and increases formaldehyde release. Formaldehyde is used to stiffen fabrics of all types, so that new clothing, carpeting and upholstered furniture may off-gas considerable formaldehyde for days or weeks. Wrinkle-proof clothing has been treated with a formaldehyde resin and will give off formaldehyde forever. To limit exposure, avoid the use of cosmetics or skin products that contain formaldehyde (read labels), wash new clothing before its worn, allow new carpeting or upholstered furniture to air out for a week before allowing your child to sleep in the same room it's in and do not dress your children in wrinkle-proof clothing. Particle board construction materials and furniture can be treated with a lacquer that seals formaldehyde in and keeps moisture out.
11. DECLARE YOUR HOME A SMOKE-FREE ZONE
Exposure to someone else's tobacco smoke, increases your child's risk of developing cancer, in addition to frequent colds, allergies, asthma, and recurrent ear infections. Tobacco smoke releases benzene into the air. Benzene exposure in humans is a cause of leukemia, the leading form of childhood cancer in the United States.
12. HAVE YOUR HOME CHECKED FOR RADON
A radioactive gas which enters your house from the soil. Scientists estimate that seventeen million homes in the U.S. may still contain unacceptable radon levels.
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