Want Healthier Kids? Let Them Get Dirty! Harvard Doctor Says a Little Household Dust May Offer Allergy ProtectionAn article titled "A little household dust may offer allergy protection" by Harvard University Medical Professor Dr. Anthony Komaroff points out that, while it’s best to keep household dust under control, exposing newborns and infants to low levels of dust and dirt during their early lives may provide the immunological challenge that will make them healthier later in life. His comments are based on research from Germany that shows that farm kids grow up with less asthma and allergies than kids raised in cities.
“What is dust? It's a little like sausage: You don't want to know what's in it. But I'll tell you anyway.
More than half of household dust comes from soil either tracked into the home or wafting in as airborne particles through doors and windows.
The most vulnerable family members are the youngest: Infants are up to 100 times more susceptible to the health hazards of dust-borne pollutants than adults.”
To keep dust down indoors, Dr. K recommends:
• Regular housekeeping.
• Frequent vacuuming; up to several times per week with a high-efficiency vacuum like the ones listed in the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval testing and certification program for vacuums.
• Wear a mask when cleaning house
• Use door mats, or better yet, remove your shoes before you come indoors.
• Install weatherproofing around doors and windows
• Change furnace and air conditioner filters regularly
• Consider using a portable HEPA air cleaner unit.
But is household dust always bad? Maybe not, says Dr. K.
“New research indicates that newborns and very young children who grow up in relatively "dirty" surroundings, such as farms, may actually be protected against developing allergies and allergic diseases (such as asthma) later in life. I'm not urging you to keep a dusty home for the first few years of a child's life, but someday you may hear that advice!”