So, You Might Ask, Why the Absurd Title?
Well, wouldn’t you agree that the typical household has their carpets professionally cleaned once or twice a year? And if they entertain very much, their carpets may be professionally cleaned three or four times per year. Again, wouldn’t you agree that our carpets are also vacuumed once every week, or two? This is great, because carpets, especially those in a bedroom, collect allergens and can be home to as many as 50,000 allergen producing dust mites.
How often do we have our mattresses and pillows, items that we have intimate contact with eight hours a day, professionally cleaned? Never, nor do we even clean them ourselves, weekly, or every other week! Bed linens yes,…but not the mattresses nor the pillows.
But do we sleep on our cleaned and vacuumed carpets? No, at least not normally. We are sane people, who sleep in our beds…our beds, that have NEVER been professionally cleaned, nor have the pillows, that we lay our heads upon, ever been professionally cleaned. So obviously, it would be more logical and even healthier, to sleep on our cleaned and vacuumed carpets!
Our unhygienic mattresses and unhygienic pillows harbor, on average, 2,000,000 dust mites and sometimes as many as 10,000,000 dust mites! Dust mites produce a digestive enzyme so powerful that it breaks down and kills living tissue. This digestive enzyme, called guanine, is excreted as a potent and very harmful allergen. Dust mites excrete 20 to 30 fecal pellets each day. Doing the math, that’s the equivalent of 40 to 60 million fecal pellets accumulating in our mattress EACH DAY! The fecal pellets are approximately 15 microns in size but as they dry out they become powdery and decompose into even finer particulates. These particulates are then easily inhaled by YOU when fluffing a pillow or tossing and turning at night which, on average, happens 50 to 60 times per night.
Dust mites are responsible for 80% to 90% of allergenic compounds found in house dust. Although dust mites and dust mite allergens (DMA’s) can be found throughout a home the vast majority of dust mites live, thrive, and breed, in the micro-habitat of a mattress and pillow. It’s time to incorporate regularly scheduled mattress and pillow cleaning in routine housekeeping practices.
In any average home, Indoor Air Quality is now the worst that it has ever been and dust mites are the #1 cause of poor indoor air quality. Visit the EPA’s newest website at: http://www.noattacks.org More Facts Concerning Indoor Air Pollution Asthma, “hidden” asthma, perennial rhinitis, bronchitis, sinusitis, eczema, and many more respiratory illnesses and skin disorders have INCREASED every year since 1980.
The ACAAI (American College of Allergies, Asthma, and Immunology) has stated that 50% of ALL ILLNESSES, are either caused by, or further aggravated by, poor indoor air quality.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that, on average, the air quality with in our homes, schools, workplaces is 2 to 5 times worse than the outdoor air quality and in MANY places much, much, worse…as in 100 to 500 times worse! For real!!!
The EPA has also stated that since the ’80’s, children typically spend 90-95% of their time indoors. This is a MUCH higher percentage than when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s when our parents couldn’t keep us inside (irregardless of the weather or time of day!).
So how could this have happened all across the U.S.? Here are just 3 of the major plausible reasons…
1). Energy conservation practices beginning in the late 1970’s resulted in newer building construction methods, improved insulation and more “air-tight” structures to maintain indoor temperatures and indoor environments.
The negative impact that the less “draftier” structures have presented are the increased accumulations of indoor pollutants, both organic (dust mite allergens, molds, mildews, spores, bacteria, viruses, pet dander, and outdoor pollutants (pollen being #1) transported indoors and inorganic pollutants such as man-made chemicals and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds).
VOC’s emit gases from thousands of products found in a home such as: paints, lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, carpet backing, building materials and furnishings, and also found in schools and workplaces such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.
Toxic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. All of these products release chemical compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.
2). Technology has played a negative role. The negative impact that technology has produced is the increase of indoor entertainment. Cable television, computers, interactive games (Play Station, X-Box, etc.) are often the entertainment of choice amongst school kids and young adults. This type of entertainment keeps people indoors instead of outdoors playing games like whiffle ball, jacks, hop scotch, 2-square (or 4-square), tag, Red Rover, or even hide-and-seek…
3). Globalization (the latest “El Nino” like, excuse). While G-zation is pretty cool (the world shrinking leads to sharing of new ideas, better access for traveler’s to far away places, and furthering cultural exchanges). G-zation is also responsible for some negative impacts, some already known like the bird flu or the re-infestation, in the U.S., of the once nearly extinct bed bug and additional negative impacts, not yet realized.
Lastly, (and I can’t quite decide if these are major or minor reasons) I suspect housekeeping practices and how “family-life” has changed since the ’70’s and 80’s. Divorce among marriages actually became the norm (even becoming a status symbol) unlike in the ’60’s, family’s (or what remained of families) became more mobile and thusly left behind assistance (and knowledge) from extended family members (grandma and grandpa), divorced mom’s joined the work force leaving the home unattended (housekeeping became less of a priority), or the household needed BOTH parents to become wage earners, again allowing housekeeping to suffer, even if minimally.
Source Control, Attack the #1 Cause of Indoor Allergens
Grandma and Grandpa and the generations before knew the importance of mattress cleaning. This was a common spring cleaning ritual back in the days when everyone hung their laundry out to dry. Even though dust mites weren’t discovered until 1694 (by the inventor of the microscope) they have lived on earth about 300 million years. When man began sleeping on mattresses the dust mites learned of the new food source provided by humans. This happened about 10,000 years ago and it’s no coincidence that mattress cleaning became a normal “housekeeping” function about 8,000 years ago.
Health and Wellness begins at home and to experience the best health, it’s time to once again, begin sleeping on hygienic mattresses and pillows…or sleep on the clean carpets. If you appreciated this article you may be interested in other articles authored by Tom Hefter.
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