Photo: Dust to tackle toxics in the home

Dust with a damp cloth weekly or wet mop twice a week if you have a crawling child.(Credit: LifeSupercharger via Flickr)

I own one TV.

But my husband and I have set some TV boundaries: never one per room, never in the bedroom, never on all day for white noise (especially when entertaining guests). And we're gearing up for "no TV before two years old" because it affects little brains.

Problem is, that TV — couch, carpets, curtains and other furniture and electronics, too — are shedding toxics every day.

No need to get rid of it, although I've heard some people live without television...The simple answer is to dust.

Studies have shown that consumer products, not stuff coming out of smokestacks, are the likely source of flame retardants or, PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) that are building up in people and animals.

These toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer, adverse effects on the developing brain, and immune and reproductive problems. They are also persistent and bioaccumulative, which means they build up in the environment and our bodies (and in animals like polar bears and killer whales).

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These chemicals contaminate household dust, posing a substantial health risk to people. In fact, household dust is now recognized as one of the most significant sources of childhood exposure to toxic substances.

Studies show that dust is really a chemical soup with low levels of flame retardants, phthalates, metals like lead, mercury and arsenic, and pesticides.

Solution? Dust with a damp cloth weekly or wet mop twice a week if you have a crawling child.

Some of these chemicals are tracked in from outside. But most come from consumer products. You'll also find higher levels in dryer lint and the vacuum cleaner bag. (Don't compost dryer lint if you spread it on garden veggie beds!)

Shoes also track contaminated dirt into your home. The Door Mat Study suggests wiping shoes on a mat and taking them off when you come in. Leave runners, soccer cleats and bike shoes at the door instead of storing them in a bedroom closet. It's a simple step that can reduce lead dust in your home by 60 per cent.

Dust often — try my furniture polish recipe — and leave your shoes at the door.

Do you have a dusting tip or DIY recipe to share?

Comment on this blog for a chance to win a Whole House Cleaning Kit from Aspen Clean! (Draw date September 10th, 2012)

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

August 26, 2012

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Nov 01, 2016
1:25 PM

Looking forward to trying the green clean recipes. Thanks for sharing!

Sep 11, 2012
4:40 PM

So when you're dusting, what do you use — a rag? and then, what do you do with the rag that is now contaminated by whatever's in the dust … put it in the land fill? launder it into the water-ways? (I'm not trying to be sarcastic — these are real questions.)

Sep 05, 2012
7:56 AM

I have always dusted once or twice a week simply to remove allergens, but I had never considered toxins until now — even though in hindsight it seems like common sense.
I find that dusting is one of those cleaning chores that people let slip if they find themselves very busy so I'll certainly pass on the information. I try to dust — and clean in general — on the same day(s) each week so that it becomes routine and is never forgotten. Thank you!

Sep 05, 2012
6:10 AM

Wow, I never would have thought! Here's some extra motivation for keeping a clean house! I have a question regarding the TV. Does it always leach PBDEs or more so when it is on? Also, does this information apply regardless of the type of TV (we recently got rid of our old one)?

Sep 04, 2012
5:08 PM

Great blog, Lindsay….. You've inspired me to get out the bucket of water and to start the damp dusting right away! A pox on all our electronic equipment!!

All the best, Val

Sep 04, 2012
2:42 PM

Thanks for this information. Try turning up the music while dusting. It makes it go by faster!

Sep 04, 2012
11:17 AM

I didn't know dust could be so harmful, I'll make an effort to dust/vacuum more often. thanks!

Sep 02, 2012
10:23 AM

Thanks for the reminder about the hazards of dust and the need to dust regularly!

Really appreciate all your green information, btw.

Aug 30, 2012
2:36 AM

Great info. I have a new baby and will def take this to heart!

Aug 29, 2012
6:53 AM

I have always hated dust but I had NO idea how potentially harmful it can be!

Thank you for sharing this important article!

Aug 28, 2012
3:47 PM

Great tips! Thank you!

Aug 28, 2012
8:44 AM

I use your recipes for homemade cleaners. I'm more aware and more cautious of what I buy for my home and family. My family and I are trying to be more green, reducing our carbon foot print and just back to basics. At first it was hard to get used to it but it's becoming more and more easier. Thank you for your tips and blogs I really enjoy them :)

Aug 28, 2012
8:02 AM

let's also tackle the problem upstream and force companies, through boycotts and government legislation, to stop manufacturing products with these toxins in them.

Aug 27, 2012
1:16 PM

I need to dust!

Aug 27, 2012
9:55 AM

wow… and I have to admit to a lot of electronics… computers and so on… I have always hated dusting but now I will see it as a personal hygiene activity instead of housework.

Aug 27, 2012
9:37 AM

I didn't realize how bad dust is for us — it's scary what is in it. Dusting is my LEAST favourite household chore! My allergies always kick in when I dust, so I'd rather leave the dust alone than risk getting all stuffy and sneezy. I try to keep the clutter down so there is less to dust, but stuff seems to migrate back to the shelves…. This post gives me renewed motivation to tackle the dust again.

Aug 27, 2012
9:17 AM

Pets paws are a culprit too!

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