Most people reading this likely consider themselves to live in a nice home, with solid walls and decent furnishings, kept tidy
and clean. Well, if you have kids, that "tidy and clean" part may be a bit of a challenge, but the general idea is that the place you live is home sweet home.
We're sorry to have to sound a sour note here, but many homes have hidden problems that can jeopardize the occupants' health. Often, the problem is not with the house itself but with the choices we make for furnishings, home maintenance, cleaning, laundry, and other aspects of home living.
You'd have a tough time finding any house that has all 71,000 of the chemicals registered for use, but the household goods and products you buy and use on a regular basis contain a fair number of them, and
many of these chemicals are known troublemakers. There are other, non-chemical dangers that are potential health dangers too. The ill effects the problems can have on adults are bad enough, but the health effects can be especially deleterious on growing children, who are particularly vulnerable to pollutants and toxins.
Egad! Our Little House on the Prairie is really a Little Shop of Horrors? No, it's usually not that serious. But the sum of all the little problems can add up to larger problems over time, and THAT is worth trying to do something about. Putting child-safety locks on the cabinets and keeping paints and solvents out of kids' reach is a good start, but there is much more to think about when it comes to making the home truly safe for children.
The Children's Health Environmental Coalition has put together a fantastic resource to help us all figure out where the hot spots might be
in our homes. They've done it in a graphical format, where all you have to do is drag your mouse over the various rooms and features in their virtual house.
Once you get to CHEC's site, there are two ways to use the virtual house:
- Quick Tips — Just hover your mouse over any room feature and a short tip will appear at the bottom of the panel.
- Related Articles — When you click on a feature in the virtual house, CHEC's database generates a list of relevant articles for you to peruse.
(NOTE: If you're the fun-challenged type, you don't have to roll the mouse around the rooms; you can just use the menu on the right side to get tips or articles.)
So, scoot on over to CHEC's Health-E Home and see whether the imaginary boogieman in your kid's closet is really the worst thing in the house. When you click on the link, be patient—the first page takes a while to load.
One note: You need the Flash player (browser plug-in) to run the Virtual House. If you don't have it, you should get it—you're missing out on a lot of cool stuff! The Flash plug-in is available for free from Macromedia. Not sure if you have it or not? Just go to the link above; if you don't have it, the browser will tell you!
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