Some years ago, a dietician made a comment that became somewhat popularized: “You are what you eat.” It seems to me that it would be more accurate to say that our physical condition is the result of what we consume through our mouths, our lungs, and our skin. Every aspect of our environments impacts us, not just the content of our refrigerators. The problem is, while we may reduce our saturated fat intake, we often don’t think about the toxins in our homes or what they may be doing to us. Busy with all the demands on our time, we don’t notice that our floors and furniture are accumulating contaminants.
Yes. Contaminants is the right word, because contaminants are what is building up day after day. The problem is that we don’t see our soiled furnishing as ‘contaminated,’ which is the reason—according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—that we have to spend so much on healthcare. Pollution is coming into our homes but we’re not cleaning it out. Dr. Michael Berry, a deputy director in the EPA, says that we “spend no more than .05% of our income on cleaning.” (It was reported on the news that we spend 1.3 trillion dollars yearly on healthcare.)
I know that Dr. Berry is right, because most people who call us for service haven’t had their carpets cleaned in years—anywhere from 3 to 6 years, as a matter of fact. Occasionally, we get calls from people who haven’t cleaned them in a decade.
I was talking with a professional friend a while back. He told me about an experience with one of his customers that explains why many people don’t clean nearly as often as they should: It seems that a lady called to ask him to meet her at a pre-owned home she had purchased. “I’d like you to help me evaluate the condition of the carpeting. I don’t know if it needs cleaning or not,” she said.
As they walked around from room to room, the lady suddenly commented, “I don’t think the car-pet is too bad, but I still want it cleaned. If it were my dirt, I wouldn’t worry about it.” What was she saying, “My dirt is cleaner than your dirt?” She clearly had no idea what ‘my dirt’ contains, to say nothing of the health threats in it.
I came across an article published by Consumer- Oriented Publications that I found to be a real eye-opener. So, I got their permission to share part of the article with you:
Ultra-Common Contaminants in Floor Soils
- Soot (from vehicle emissions)
- Asphalt residue (from streets/parking lots)
- Motor oil plus chemical additives (from streets/ parking lots)
- Residues from industrial gases, containing many contaminants
- Oils (from cooking vapors, human and animal skin and hair)
- Cleaning chemical residue, various types
- Lawn fertilizer
- Hair, human and animal
- Skin cells, from people and pets
- Food crumbs
- Beverage spills of all sorts (milk, cola drinks, fruit juices)
- Insect fragments and excrement
- Pet excretions, which contain E. Coli bacteria
- Regurgitation, both animal and human
- Cat and dog saliva
- Mold spores
- Dust mites and excrement
*Many organic and inorganic contaminants found in the home are either known to be or are known to con-tain carcinogenic substances.
“Indoor environmental problems cause more widespread health problems than all the out-door environmental problems put together.” James M. Seltzer, MD; Journal of HealthCare Design