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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Leave Dirt at the Door: How Taking Off Your Shoes Can Improve Your Health

Our guest blogger is Laura Dern – Actress, Activist, and Mom to Ellery and Jaya.

In many cultures it’s customary to remove your shoes before entering a home for spiritual or practical reasons. And as a mom, I encourage the practice because I want a clean home. But taking off your shoes not only helps keep your home cleaner, it also helps keep it healthier. Think about it. Where have the bottom of your shoes been? If you’ve stopped to fill up your car, you can track home gasoline on your feet. If you’ve walked through a freshly treated lawn or putting green, you can track home toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Seemingly benign dirt can have traces of lead in it. You walk through it, then you walk through your home leaving traces on your rug, your baby crawls past, and then stops to put her hand in her mouth. Get the picture?

The professional cleaning industry estimates that we track 85% of the dirt in our homes in from the outside on our shoes or paws of pets. In a recent warning about lead exposure, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifically recommends that shoes remain outside the house. According to a report called The Door Mat Study, lead-contaminated soil from the outside causes almost all the lead dust inside homes. It notes that wiping shoes on a mat and removing them at the door cuts lead dust by 60 percent. The study explains that limiting the amount of dust and track-in may also help reduce exposure to lawn and garden pesticides, wood smoke and industrial toxins, mutagens, dust mites, and allergens.

Wiping our shoes off as we enter the home reduces the amount of contaminated dirt tracked in. Large mats, that cover two or three strides, will ensure that even those that refuse to wipe will leave most of the dirt clinging to their shoes on the mat rather than your carpet

The BEST solution is to take off your shoes as you enter your home. It is a good excuse to buy some great socks or slippers. And your flooring will stay clean as well as keep dirt and potential toxic threats from getting into carpets. If going shoeless is not acceptable to family members, suggest that they wear house shoes (that don’t go outside), slippers or socks.

And walking around in soft slippers, socks, or barefoot does another wonderful thing – it helps us relax and unwind.

Sources:
EPA, Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil
Housekeeping Solutions, Floor Care: Rolling Out the Welcome Mat
Small Property Owners of America, The Door Mat Study

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Posted by: WebMD Blogs at 6:22 pm

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