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How to Reduce Chemical Exposure in Your Every Day Life

fresh air being let in through an open window
  On nice days I keep the window in my son's room open to let in the fresh air.

When my son developed MCS, we found two main treatments helpful: 1) changing his diet to improve his ability to detoxify chemicals; and 2) limiting his chemical exposure inside our home. There isn't a lot to be done when kids are at school or friends' houses, but using natural products and cleaning solutions in the home can give kids a respite from chemical exposure. It is especially important to keep bedrooms as chemical free as possible since this is where kids usually spend at least eight hours a night. The list below contains the ideas we used to make our home a chemical free haven, as much as possible at least in today's world.

1. We buy dye and perfume free laundry detergent. Currently I use Arm and Hammer Perfume and Dye Free detergent on underwear, towels and sheets. I use All Free and Clear for everything else. The Arm and Hammer detergent gets clothes the cleanest, but repeated washings can fade the colors on shorts and pants.

Sometimes my kids will borrow clothes from friends or I'll wash clothes that get left at our house. I'm amazed at how strong of a perfume scent is on the clothes just from other families' scented laundry detergent.

2. For deodorant we buy Tom's of Maine unscented stick deodorant. As an added plus, it is aluminum free.

3. We buy either metal, glass or all wood furniture to avoid formaldehyde fumes from pressed woods. My son develops headaches and wobbly eyes (nystagmus) whenever he is around manufactured wood products.

4. We buy chemical free soaps. I have glass soap dispensers at each sink for washing hands. I fill them with an unscented liquid glycerin hand soap I buy in bulk bottle size. For bath soap we use an unscented pure glycerin soap I buy at the local supermarket.

5. Weather permitting, we keep some of the windows open in the house during the day. Research shows that indoor rooms, if sealed up too tight, can result in sick building syndrome.

6. We moved many of the plastic and vinyl toys out of his room, such as his Lego collection, to reducethe possibility of off gassing. We kept some of the plastic toys stored in boxes in the garage and a smaller set in the family room, which is a larger and more well ventilated space.

7. We washed his bedding frequently to limit his exposure to dust mites.

8. We kept the windows open to our new van when it was parked in the garage overnight to help it air out and get rid of the "new car smell". New cars are sources of a variety of potentiality toxic chemicals including formaldehyde and benzene. Toyota and other Japanese auto makers are currently striving to reduce the number of harmful chemicals found in new cars.

9. We used only natural pesticides around the house. I noticed my son had more health issues develop right after signs went up at his school that the buildings had had been treated with pesticides. I guess it is good they put the signs up to let parents know what was going on, but that still didn't help my son.

picture of a bug   Personally, I'd prefer to be around bugs over poisonous chemicals any day.

his whole idea of regularly spraying schools with toxic pesticides seems crazy to me. I think for many children they are creating a worse problem than the one they are trying to solve. A few cockroaches never killed anyone, but people getting headaches, asthma attacks and other bad reactions from pesticides are not uncommon.

For ant attacks we use a product called Orange Guard. Its active ingredient is orange peel extract. Ants hate it but it smells great. It is supposed to be safe around humans. For ant traps we use a commercial bait trap called Terro. They do contain a poison, boric acid, but it is mixed with a syrupy liquid so it isn't dispersed into the air. The ants love the taste, swarm over the traps and take the bait back to the colony. It takes a few days to work for big colonies but overall it is the most effective ant trap we have found.

10. I make my own cleaning supplies using natural ingredients including Castile soap, vinegar, and essential oils. This not only healthier than breathing in chemicals, it is also less expensive than using commercial cleaners.

11. Our floors are mainly tile or solid wood floors with 100% wool rug on top. The stairs are carpeted with a wool carpet.





Other sections in the series:

1. My son's experience and recovery from chemical sensitivity

2. Nutrition for MCS sufferers

3. Reducing chemical usage in your home - current page


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