September 28, 2012
Floors that Can Make You and Your Children Sick (excerpts)
September 26 2012
By Dr. Mercola
You’ve probably given careful consideration to the food your children consume on a daily basis. But what about the other environmental influences they’re exposed to on a near 24/7 basis, such as the materials in their living space and, more specifically, your flooring?
It is likely no one in your home is more familiar with your floor than young children or toddlers living there, as this is where they spend a good deal of time – exploring, playing and learning the ropes of life.
As they crawl, their hands (that will later end up in their mouths) sweep across the surface, and their faces are in close proximity to the material itself, and any emissions that have accumulated in household dust.
Toxic chemicals, including some that are so dangerous to children they have been banned from toys, are widely used in popular flooring materials, and new research shows that these chemicals can be taken up by infants’ bodies as they crawl along on the floor.
Serious Risks from PVC Flooring Revealed
If your home contains soft, flexible plastic flooring, such as vinyl or those padded play-mat floors for kids (often used in day cares and kindergartens, too), there’s a good chance it is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). One of the main problems with PVC is that it contains phthalates, or “plasticizers,” which are a group of industrial chemicals used to make plastics like PVC more flexible and resilient.
They’re also one of the most pervasive endocrine disrupters so far discovered. A new study conducted by Swedish researchers found levels of certain phthalates were higher in the urine of babies that had PVC flooring on their bedroom floor.1
“The findings indicate that the use of soft PVC as flooring material may increase the human uptake of phthalates in infants. Urinary levels of phthalate metabolites during early life are associated with the use of PVC flooring in the bedroom, body area, and the use of infant formula.
This study shows that the uptake of phthalates is not only related to oral uptake from, for example, food but also to environmental factors such as building materials. This new information should be considered when designing indoor environments, especially for children.”
This is not the first time PVC flooring has made headlines. Past research has linked it to increased levels of phthalates in household dust, which in turn is linked to chronic health conditions like allergies and asthma. One study also found that infants who lived in bedrooms with vinyl floors were twice as likely to have autism as infants with wood flooring.2
Anything you can do to lower your, and your children’s, exposure to plasticizing chemicals like phthalates is a step in the right direction. Among them:
1. Choose toys made from natural materials (or at least only buying those made from phthalate-free plastic).
2. When redoing your home, look for “green,” toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings.
3. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric or better yet install glass shower doors.
4. Switch over to natural brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, and cosmetics.
5. Check your home’s tap water for contaminants and filter the water if necessary. You may also want to use an alternative to PVC pipes for your water supply.
6. Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, scented candles or other synthetic fragrances and perfumes.
7. Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.
8. Avoid processed foods (many are packaged in phthalate-containing packaging) and instead focus your diet on fresh, organic and locally grown whole foods.
9. Breastfeed your baby exclusively if possible, for at least the first six months (as you will avoid phthalates exposure from infant formula packaging and plastic bottles/nipples).
10. If you use baby bottles, use glass, not plastic.
11. Use only natural cleaning products in your home.
12. Teach your children not to drink water from the garden hose, as many are made with phthalate-containing plastics. (Read Full Article)