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Preventing Exposure to Toxins in the Home

1. Choose a health behavior and a target population to focus on. Identify and describe the health behavior of interest and the target population.
2. Based on your literature search, assess and provide background information on the behavior/topic. Include statistics to explain the scope of the problem.
3. Provide an explanation as to why it is important to address the health behavior you have chosen.
4. What benefits or consequences do the behaviors have on individuals' health?

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Children are more susceptible to most chemicals than adults because their bodies are still developing and are not use to dealing with toxicants. Also they weigh less making harmful doses smaller for children than adults. The effect of household pesticides on children is an increasing concern. Children play on the floor and lawns where they are exposed to greater concentrations of pesticide residue. Very young children are more likely to put items in their mouth. Studies have been conducted that suggest exposure to household pesticides may cause brain cancer and leukemia in children, but more research must be done for firm conclusions can be made.

According to the EPA, 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. Alarmingly, pesticide residues have been detected in 50 percent to 95 percent of U.S. foods. EPA also estimates that 84% of U.S. homes use pesticide products such as pest strips, bait boxes, bug bombs, fleas collars, pesticide pet shampoo, aerosols, liquid, and dusts. Several thousand different pesticides are manufactured, and these contain over 300 active ingredients and more than 2500 inert ingredients. Poison control centers in the U.S. receive more than 130,000 reports of exposure and possibly poisoning from household pesticides. More than half of these incidents involve children.
While it is difficult to identify a specific toxin in the home and take appropriate measures to contain exposure to it, here are some general strategies to reduce the overall level of toxins in the home:

• Only use natural cleaning products in your home. Most health food stores will have these available or you can make your own cleaning products using safe ingredients.
• Establish a 'no shoe' policy in your home. To drastically reduce the amount of pesticides and other chemicals that you may pick up outside, have visitors and family members leave shoes at the door. Residuals of toxic chemicals may last for years in carpets.
• Avoid using chemical pest control products. There are safe, non-toxic alternatives for controlling insect pests in the home, including many new non-toxic pest control products for the homeowner.
• Use toxin-reducing houseplants. Researchers from NASA have identified certain houseplants which are useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning the air inside homes.
• Change or clean your furnace or A/C filters, at least once every 1-3 months depending on use.
• Use low-VOC paints, caulks, sealants, finishes and carpeting. Look for low-VOC labelling on sealing and finishing products. Most major paint brands now carry 'low' and 'zero' VOC lines for interior painting. For a list of non-toxic paint suppliers, click here.
• Ventilate. Modern homes and business are created to be leak proof; meaning, toxins are sealed in and fresh air is sealed out! To ventilate indoor air in winter, open doors and windows on opposing sides of the room to facilitate air flow, and close them in 5 - 10 minutes. The furnishings, drywall and any stonework will retain residual heat and restore room temperatures quickly.
• Establish a 'no-shoes' policy in your home - The simplest way to keep outdoor pesticides, especially lawn chemicals, from entering your home is to have ...

Solution Summary

Discussion of a health behavior and a target population. Identification and description of the behavior. Discussion of scope of problem based on researched data. A review of why the behavior was chosen and the impact it has on one's health.

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