Indoor Pollution and Allergies

  • By: The DIG for Kids
  • Time to read: 4 min.
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Most allergy specialists around the world now agree that indoor air pollution is one of the most significant causes of asthma attacks and other allergic responses in children.

The greatest contributors to poor indoor air quality for allergy sufferers are;

  • Dust mites and their droppings
  • Animal hair
  • Chemicals used around the home.

Many parents clean their homes diligently to remove dust, only to find that their Child’s Asthma or allergic rhinitis (congested and/or runny nose) seems to get worse. This is undoubtedly because of the type of Cleaning Products they are using.


Aerosols cause the biggest problem. The biggest culprit among the proprietary brands of cleaners and personal hygiene products are aerosols.

Aerosols work by suspending the product (for example and air-freshening chemical) in a liquid solvent. When the button is pressed, gas pushes down on the liquid, forcing it up the tube to be released in micro-fine particles. The gas evaporates into the air when the product is sprayed.

The most commonly used propellant is liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which is a by-product of the petroleum industry and is a mixture of propane, isobutene and n-butane. Alternatives are Di Methyl Ether, which is often used in deodorants and air fresheners, compressed air and nitrogen, and soluble compressed gases such as carbon dioxide.

These propellants, allied to the chemicals in the products, can cause throat, eye and skin irritation, dizziness, nausea, headaches and allergic reactions.

Other Household Chemicals

There are many other chemicals that can cause an allergic reaction in susceptible children, such as fumes from chlorine bleach, dry-cleaning chemicals on rugs and clothes, metal cleaners, oven cleaners, furniture and floor polish, paints and residues of phosphate-based detergents on clothes and bedding.

You can replace these harsh chemicals with many more natural household products.

Using Vinegar

It is a great natural cleaning product as well as a natural disinfectant and deodoriser. It can be used, diluted, on all hard surfaces, except marble and the smell disappears when it dries.

Invest in a plastic pump action bottle. Fill it with half vinegar and half water. Spray it on to baths, floors, worktops and windows and wipe thoroughly. Any glass will shine after being washed with vinegar and water.

Vinegar can also be poured undiluted around the toilet bowl to remove lime scale instead of bleach.

Lemon Juice, Baking Soda, Washing Soda And Olive Oil

Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on it, then use it to scrub dishes, pots and pans, surfaces with caked-on food spills or grime and stains on hard surfaces. Make a paste of lemon juice and baking soda, then use an old toothbrush to work it around taps to get rid of soap scum and lime scale. Lemon juice on a rag will bring a shine to any metal, including brass and copper.

Mix half a cup of lemon juice with half a cup of olive oil and use it to polish and feed all your wooden surfaces.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is an excellent deodoriser. Use it diluted in warm water to wash out fridges and freezers.

Washing Soda

Washing Soda is a natural product but it can cause skin irritation with prolonged exposure. Wear rubber gloves when using it. It can be used neat to remove tidemarks in baths, applied neat to stains on clothes before washing, also applied neat to burnt-on food in casseroles, pans and ovens. Rinse thoroughly after it has softened the residue.

Other Chemical-free Tactics For Making The Home Allergy-free

Laundry products can contain some very harmful chemicals indeed, which can cause allergic reactions in susceptible children. A typical commercial washing powder can contain phosphates, enzymes, chlorine bleach, titanium oxide, formaldehyde, pesticide residues, sodium lauryl sulphate (foaming agent), synthetic fragrance and/or synthetic colourant.

Use ecologically sound washing products, if you want to ensure that your family isn’t wearing or sleeping in fabrics that contain chemical residues. There are several on the market now. A local health food shop should stock them and some supermarkets. Don’t use fabric conditioners. Putting a cupful of vinegar in the rinse cycle of your machine will remove all soap scum, soften fabrics and will not smell of vinegar once the garments have dried.

Dust Mites

Many families struggling with chronic allergies have got rid of their carpets, which harbour millions of dust mites and are treated will chemicals, and installed hard flooring, which can be easily cleaned.

Put allergy-prevention covers on bedding, which stop dust mites infesting your pillows and mattresses. Once a week put your child’s pillow in a plastic bin bag and put it in the freezer for a day. This will kill off any dust mite activity.

Don’t get rid of your beloved pet, just invest in a hand-held pet-vacuum cleaner which, allied with daily brushing, will ensure that your animal does not build up the fine dander hair which aggravates asthma. Make sure that all pet bedding is regularly cleaned.

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