PESTICIDES: In one study, environmental measurements of organophosphorus pesticides were conducted in the homes of 13 children, who lived either in the Seattle metropolitan area or in the agricultural region of Washington State. Half of the indoor air samples contained detectable levels of chlorpyrifos or diazinon. Detectable levels of diazinon and azinphosmethyl in house dust were found in most of the agricultural homes, whereas only diazinon was found in the Seattle homes in the summer. Chlorpyrifos and azinphosmethyl were found on either children’s hands or their toys in the agricultural areas .

CARPET: contains many volatile chemicals mentioned above as well as endotoxins, pet dander and sailva, dust mites, mold spores, flea larvae and heavy metal residues. Our recommendation is to get rid of all the carpet in the house. The next best thing is to leave shoes at the door to avoid tracking in pollutants. Our little “rugrats” are especially susceptible because of their close proximity to the carpet and all the nasty stuff trapped in it .

SETTLED HOUSE DUST: holds many chemicals and microbial toxins, some of which are known carcinogens such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. One study re-iterated that preschool aged children are at the highest risk of exposure due to crawling around on dusty floors and hand to mouth behavior . House dust also contains dust mites, the primary indoor allergen risk for increasing asthma attacks and respiratory irritation. Covering mattresses with dust-proof casings is proven to reduce symptoms . Carefully changing bedding once a week, washing it in hot water and replacing pillows at least every 2 years is also helpful. Get rid of clutter in the house that is literally collecting dust, especially in the bedroom. We spend roughly 30% of our lives sleeping in our bedrooms, so this is the most important room to focus on, especially if you or a loved one has asthma.

Motivated to begin a major spring-cleaning now? Use as much as possible to avoid adding to the toxic load of your house. Remember, cleaning products are on the list of household toxins above. Salt, vinegar, baking soda, essential oils and steam cleaners are healthy alternatives. Natural cleaning products work best when you clean often rather than letting the grime build up.

I recommend a weekly cleaning ritual to not only get rid of the physical toxins, but to use intention as you work to clear the energetic and emotional clutter that has built up throughout the week. Focus on what you would like to sweep out of your life as you work. End with your favorite energetic space clearing technique such as smudging the house with sage while focusing on what you would like to bring into your life this spring.

This concludes the 4-part spring cleaning discussion. Special thanks to Dr. Eric Yarnell, ND, RH (AHG) for co-authoring an article with me that I have summarized in the last 4 posts. I will return to sharing some patient experiences from my naturopathic medical clinic next week.

Margaret Philhower, ND