News, Culture & Society

Environmental scientist reveals how your household is making you SICK

Nicole Bijlsma is a qualified building biologist based in Melbourne

An Australian environmental scientist  and building biologist has revealed how your home could be making you sick – and advises against using antibacterial soap, unfiltered tap water and soft toys for children. 

Nicole Bijlsma, who is based in Melbourne, strongly believes that many of the common household products we use and practices we have are harming our health, causing cancers, disrupting our hormones and lowering our IQ.

She deciphered some of the main issues in each room of the house – including walls, dust, fragrances and electromagnetic fields – and offered easy fixes for the problems.

BATHROOM

While many believe this space to be one of the most germ-infested of the house, Nicole reasons that bacteria is on everyone, every surface and everything.

‘They actually say that a healthy home has really diverse strains of bacteria and there is a lower risk of allergies,’ she told FEMAIL.

But what we do need to watch out for in the bathroom is a build up of mould, which can start to form after a surface has been damp for longer than 48 hours.

‘There are microbes sitting on these surfaces and when you feed them with heat they can become toxic,’ she said.

While many believe this space to be one of the most germ-infested of the house, Nicole reasons that bacteria is on everyone, every surface and everything

While many believe this space to be one of the most germ-infested of the house, Nicole reasons that bacteria is on everyone, every surface and everything

‘If you don’t have a fan in the bathroom than try and shower with the door completely open so that the humidity can escape to other parts of the house.

‘Alternatively you can also open a window in the bathroom if you have one.’

Over time mould can cause fatigue, lung problems, brain fog and headaches. 

To clean up any damp spills use a microfibre cloth that traps dust.

What are the five household items you should be careful with? 

1. Filtered water: Chlorine is added to our water supply to prevent bacteria build up but it can cause havoc on our gut flora. ‘There is also no benefit to drinking Australia’s fluoridated water – instead you should be getting your fluoride from toothpaste,’ Nicole said.

2. Antibacterial soaps: ‘They act as endocrine disruptors and there is evidence that the chemical triclosan, which is found in the soap, gives children a higher chance of developing allergies,’ she said.

3. Soft kids toys: While toys like blocks can be wiped down easily, Nicole claims soft toys should be mostly avoided. ‘This will reduce the dust mites. If they can’t be washed in hot water easily than they will only cause a build up,’ she said.

4. Shoes: They carry the largest amount of dust into our rooms so it’s best to leave them at the door and purchase cheap sandals for around the house.

5. Paint on walls: If your home was made prior to the 1970s your paint may contain trace amounts of lead. It’s best to test this before renovating to avoid health issues later on.

LIVING ROOM

Nicole wipes down and vacuums her home twice a week because she has a child with a dust allergy.

But for the average family she recommends doing a full clean just once a week, using a damp microfibre cloth over dusty surfaces and a vacuum with an electronic head and HEPA filter.

Most dust, Nicole said, is actually brought in on our shoes, so she insists it’s best to leave them at the door rather than traipsing through the house in your heels. 

Dust can cause symptoms similar to that of the common cold, like itchy eyes, a running nose and asthma.

Most dust, Nicole said, is actually brought in on our shoes, so she insists it's best to leave them at the door rather than traipsing through the house in your heels

Most dust, Nicole said, is actually brought in on our shoes, so she insists it’s best to leave them at the door rather than traipsing through the house in your heels

She also advises homeowners to check the paint on their walls isn’t made from lead before you start renovating.

‘If your home was built before 1970s the paint might contain lead. You can buy a $25 pack to check for its presence,’ Nicole said.

She claims lead is associated with anaemia as well as learning and behavioural problems including reduced attention span, altered motor development and poor performance in children.

Some candle wicks may also contain lead so it’s best to read the ingredients list before purchasing and burning them. 

ADULT BEDROOM

One of the most common issues in the bedroom is that of the mattress.

For Nicole, mattress protectors are key to reducing the amount of dirt and grime builds up in the actual mattress.

‘Air your mattress in the sun three times a year and never have it sitting directly on the floor. Always have a frame with slats across the base,’ Nicole said.

Nicole claims filtered water is the only way we should be ingesting fluids

Nicole claims filtered water is the only way we should be ingesting fluids

‘You’ll need to buy a new mattress every ten years because moisture from the sweat you release at night builds up inside it, causing microbial growth.’

In order to cut down on microbe growth latex mattresses are a good investment.

She also claims spraying your perfume outside is the safest option because the chemicals can change our hormones.

KITCHEN

Nicole claims filtered water is the only way we should be ingesting fluids.

‘If you don’t filter it, your body will become the filter,’ she said.

‘Chlorine is added to our water supply to prevent bacteria build up but it can cause havoc on our gut flora.

‘There is also no benefit to drinking Australia’s fluoridated water – instead you should be getting your fluoride from toothpaste.’

You can purchase cheap water filters for your tap from major supermarkets.

Also, avoid using antibacterial soaps, claims Nicole.

‘They act as endocrine disruptors and there is evidence that the chemical triclosan, which is found in the soap, gives children a higher chance of developing allergies,’ she said.

While toys like blocks can be wiped down easily, Nicole claims soft toys should be mostly avoided

While toys like blocks can be wiped down easily, Nicole claims soft toys should be mostly avoided

KIDS’ BEDROOM

One of the main issues in children’s bedrooms is the amount of clutter that tends to be there.

While toys like blocks can be wiped down easily, Nicole claims soft toys should be mostly avoided.

‘This will reduce the dust mites. If they can’t be washed in hot water easily than they will only cause a build up,’ she said.    

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk