Maisons propres et saines

Les enfants consomment plus de nourriture, respirent plus d'air et boivent plus d'eau par unité de poids que les adultes. Des expositions, qui peuvent passer inaperçues ou être relativement anodines chez un adulte, peuvent dans certains cas être dévastatrices pour un enfant et, ne serait-ce que pour cette raison, nous devons être bien informés des dangers potentiels qui menacent la santé de nos enfants. 

Des expositions à des produits chimiques peuvent causer entre autres des difficultés d'apprentissage, des éruptions cutanées, des dysfonctions respiratoires jusqu'aux maladies environnementales, et dans des cas extrêmes un cancer fatal. J'ai constaté en personne les dommages que les produits chimiques peuvent faire à un enfant. Et j'ai pu aussi constater ce qui peut arriver à ce même enfant dans une maison saine!

















































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Clean Healthy Homes

Patty Donovan
Campaign for Pesticide Reduction - Quispamsis, NB
April 2005

each trip to the grocery store brings "New!" and "Improved!" items to make our lives easier, with scrubbing bubbles and products that clean when you flush. In our work-a-day world where lives are filled with work, and errands, and trips to Doctors and Dentists, and car-pooling between hockey games, and ballet, and art classes, there is little time left to make sure the latest trendy germ does not cause our child to be sick.

When I turn on the television, or pick up a newspaper, or a magazine, I am inundated with advertisements about time saving cleaners, and should I choose to utilize these cleaners I will have more quality time with my children, and isn't that what we all want. I am left asking myself, "What am I not being told about these new and improved products and their impact on the health of my children?"

Children are, in a sense, moving targets. They consume more food, breathe more air and consume more water per body weight than an adult. Exposures which may be unnoticed or relatively harmless in an adult can be potentially devastating to a child and for that reason alone we need to be aware of the potential risks to our children's health. Research suggests that exposure to chemicals can cause everything from learning disabilities to skin rashes and respiratory dysfunction to environmental illness and, in extreme cases, death from cancers. I have seen the damage that chemicals can do to a child first hand.

My son developed Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), also known as Environmental Illness, after exposures to a neurotoxin (a toxic substance that acts on the nervous system) in a floor buffer used to shine the halls in his elementary school. He suffered from body rashes, nosebleeds, blisters, headaches, muscle aches, became dyslexic, lost the use of his short-term memory and forgot how to read.

You may be asking yourself, "What does this have to do with how I clean my home?" The simple answer is that the same chemicals that gave my son MCS are present in all of your household cleaning products, from your personal care items, such as soap, shampoo and perfume, to your laundry detergent and your bathroom and kitchen cleaners.

It can be hard to make changes to how we clean when we are, in essence, addicted to the pine or lemon scent. These scents trigger positive healthful feelings and memories, which makes change difficult. This, coupled with advertising that suggests that to be a good parent we need to have a house that is germ free, makes change difficult. Change, however difficult, is necessary for the health and safety of our children.

There are many factors to consider when looking at the chemical burden of a home and what is a solution for one home may not be the solution for another; however, the goal of this article is to give you some suggestions to begin to root out any potential chemicals that could harm your child.

The first question to ask is:
how toxic is my home?

The way to find this out is to look at:

Cleaning supplies- check if they are "environmentally friendly" and/or unscented, or do they contain Volatile Organic Compounds such as Naphthalene, Phenol, Chlorine, Formaldehyde and Benzene? These chemicals can be found in most cleaning solutions and even in hand soaps. They may also contain scents derived from nuts and non-organic compounds, as well as dyes. If you do any cleaning with these products, you should follow the manufacturers suggested use and use in a well-ventilated area.

Pesticides- the list of problems caused by exposure to pesticides is too great to effectively list in this short article; however, they can and do pose a serious health risk to children and any biocide, be it for pests, fungus or bacteria, should be investigated before using. For more information on pesticides, I urge you to contact the Sierra Club of Canada at or at 613- 241-4611.

Scented personal products- cologne, detergent and fabric softener on clothing and personal hygiene products, such as hairspray, makeup and body lotions, contribute significantly to poor air quality and can be lethal for sensitive children. There are approximately 5000 chemicals registered for use in personal products that can, in combination, or individually, negatively impact the immune system of a child.

Homes and schools should be
scent free!

Building materials used for renovations and what are they off-gassing into the air should be concerns. Pressed boards off-gas formaldehyde, new flooring off-gasses vinyl chloride, not to mention the glues, waxes and finishes used, and paint off-gasses petroleum products, among other chemicals. The list of worries from building materials and floor finishes are endless. The main thing to remember is that all renovations should be performed when children are not present and with proper ventilation and, if possible, with the least toxic materials.

When you look at all of these toxins that invade our homes and how they accumulate in the immune systems of children, it is no wonder they are struggling to learn and suffering from hyperactivity and many are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. I have seen first hand what exposure to toxins can do to a child, but I have also seen what can happen to the same child when the home is healthy.

It seems really simple, but when we embark upon change it can be a difficult journey especially when we have little or nothing to go on except the word on one Mom with a sick child. However, when you begin to investigate this issue further you will find a vast amount of information in books and on the web to help you make healthier decisions. After all you and your child are worth it!