Toxins in House Dust Put Kids at Risk

Protecting your children from exposure to a world of toxic substances ?begins in your own home?

Credit: Flickr/kelsey.richard

Accumulated house dust that includes toxic chemicals can be dangerous to kids

According to the experts, house dust is a major factor that exposes children to toxic substances

When you have a newborn in your arms, it suddenly hits you that it’s a dangerous world out there when it comes to all the things to which your little one can be exposed.

Now, the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE) has produced the first national brochure on how to protect your child from various toxic substances. They say paying attention to five key things can make a big difference.

Their number 1 tip? Go after those dust bunnies in your home. According to the experts, house dust is a major factor that exposes children to toxic substances.

What Makes House Dust Toxic?

“Whether it’s from exposures that are airborne and settle in the dust, or whether it’s from things that were cooked inside the home, or whether it’s from lead-based paint from a renovation — those entire things settle into house dust,” says Dr. Bruce Lanphear, an expert in children’s environmental health and an advisor for the new report.

Toxic substances can include lead, tobacco residue, pesticides and new emerging concerns such as flame-retardant chemicals. “The chemicals that come from those, we find those in higher concentrations in young children largely because they put so many things in their mouth and because the house dust collects those chemicals and then can be ingested by young children,” says Dr. Lanphear.

Fortunately, providing protection is a simple fix. Keep your house clean by frequent vacuuming, wet mopping and dusting with a damp cloth.

How to Keep Your House Safe for Your Kids

Besides controlling house dust, the other top tips from the CPCHE include:

  • Going green with cleansing products. Choose natural cleansers, such as baking soda and water, or vinegar and water, rather than chemical-based ones. This also includes eliminating the use of air fresheners.

  • Pregnant women and children should stay away from areas being renovated to avoid toxin-laden fumes and dust, such as from paints, caulking and glues.

  • Minimize your use of plastic products. Don’t use plastic containers or plastic wrap in the microwave. Heating can leach chemicals into food and beverages. Research has shown that Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in plastic, has been linked to hormone disruption. Eat more fresh or frozen foods rather than tinned products because BPA can be used in the lining of cans.

  • Eat fish that are low in mercury, such as wild salmon, herring, tilapia and rainbow trout.

Most importantly, Dr. Lanphear says parents need to stay aware while the federal government catches up with the emerging evidence that shows even low levels of exposure to chemicals can be harmful to children. “Parents [can] make a difference,” says Dr. Lanphear.

For more information about CPCHE, go to You can also find a copy of their tips to toxin-proof your child at

Your Health with Dr. Rhonda Low airs weekdays during CTV News at Five and CTV News at Six.

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.