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Attacking asthma in our home

Are any of you frustrated with the extent to which we are all exposed to industrial chemicals found in the everyday products we use in our homes, schools and offices? I am!

Asthma triggers

As the mother of a child with asthma I am vigilant about minimizing the asthmagens (substances causally linked to asthma) my son is exposed to. Identifying the various products in our home that are possible asthma triggers was not too difficult.

The main culprit seemed to be a handful of conventional cleaning products and finding safer alternatives, even at the grocery store, was easy. However, I still wonder about the impact a lengthy home renovation had on our son when he was an infant. Data suggests renovations in general are implicated in asthma. More specifically, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from conventional indoor paint and drywall have been shown to exacerbate the condition, and a decade ago we hung a lot of new drywall and covered it with gallons of paint. I wish I had known then what I know now.

Cleaning up indoor air at school

Lindsey's son and dog
Lindsey’s son and dog
My efforts on the home front were easy relative to those required to ‘clean up’ the indoor air quality at my son’s school. When I dug into the list of cleaning products used by the janitorial staff at our local elementary school I was shocked by the long list of ingredients known not only to trigger asthma, but also known endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, and reproductive toxins.

With the support of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the school administration, and a dedicated team of concerned parents and administrators we were able to eventually replace the toxic products with a line of products that are Green Seal certified and much safer for the students, staff and administration.

The bad news and potential grave health consequences concerning chemicals used in our homes, schools and offices are prevalent and worrisome. Whether it’s BPA in canned food, hormone disrupting fragrances in conventional shampoos, lotions, and laundry detergents, VOC’s from drywall, or the ammonia compounds in cleaning products, it seems as if danger is lurking everywhere. Another example can be found in a report released last week on allergens in fragrances.

And finally some good news!

Legislation for reform is moving now in Congress–it’s about time. The laws we have to regulate chemicals in the United States haven’t been updated for almost four decades. Over 80,000 chemicals have never been tested for safety, and many are commonly found in consumer products.

Be sure that reform is strong and protects public health. Email your Senators today! Tell them, none of us want our families to be guinea pigs in an experiment we never signed up for!

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