Your yard and garden may be chemical-free. You may clean with only non-toxic, natural cleaners. You may eat organic food. You may do all these things, yet there are herbicides and pesticides lurking in your home. How did they get there?
There are many reasons why shoes should not be worn in the house. From transmitting diseases to showing respect, taking off your shoes at the front door is a time-honored tradition in many households and cultures. Now, there is even more reason to leave those shoes that door.
Shoes Track Herbicides Where They Remain in Carpet for a Year
Americans are chronically exposed to herbicides and pesticides. Searching for sources of exposure, researchers looked at indoor sources tracked in on clothing, shoes, and the paws of pets.
According to research published in Environmental Science & Technology, the common lawn herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba remain in carpet dust and surface after being tracked in on the soles of shoes. Measurements were taken at five intervals after one-week old application. Based on their findings, the scientists project these chemicals will remain in the home a year after being tracked in.
Onthebasisoftheabove results and assumptions listed in Table 3, we would expect to find 2,4-D in residential carpet dust up to 1 year after turf application at concentrations of approximately 0.5 μg/g andatcarpetloadingsofapproximately0.3μg/m2. These estimates are in agreement with the range of 2,4-D found in nine residential dust samples: 0.1-5 μg/g and 0.02-1.1 μg/m21)http://www.nchh.org/Portals/0/Contents/Article0226.pdf
Pesticides and herbicides remain in homes longer than outside.
Transport of pesticides into the home carries significant implications for human exposure. Carpets, house dust, and home furnishings become long-term sinks for the pesticides; the common environmental weathering factors such as wind, rain, soil microbes, and sunlight are not available for degradation. Residues on floors and surfaces can become a source of exposure for young children through the hand to mouth route of ingestion, as has been fully documented for lead exposure.2)http://www.nchh.org/Portals/0/Contents/Article0226.pdf
Researchers found vacuums were only effective at removing 33% of the herbicide residue.
Children are especially susceptible to the effects of indoor pesticide and residue exposure. They spend more time on the floor than adults, especially when crawling or in the toddler years. Furthermore, their small size creates a larger proportional body burden.
In a recently reported study, the urine from matched populations of children in two Arkansas towns was analyzed for 2,4-D (33). The 2,4-D was detected in urine of 18% of the children from the town containing a 2,4-D manufacturing plant and was present in the urine of 23% of the children in the town with no manufacturing plant. The similarity of exposure rates and detection levels indicate an exposure source other than the manufacturing plant, though the source was unknown. Given the fact that children’s hand-to-mouth activity promotes ingestion of contaminated carpet dust, we might assume that chronic indoor exposure will follow a lawn application and may result in measurable urinary levels. Certainly this assumption needs to be fully investigated by analysis of matched samples of house dust and urine from resident children prior to and after turf application.3)http://www.nchh.org/Portals/0/Contents/Article0226.pdf
What You Can Do to Minimize Herbicide and Pesticide Tracked Into Your Home
Removing your shoes at the door is the simplest method to reduce herbicide residue track in.
Researchers found a difference between carpeted and bare floor areas of homes. Carpeted areas had higher levels 2,4-D. Replacing carpeting with hardwood or tile floors can help to minimize indoor herbicide residue.
In addition, the kind of flooring in your home’s entryway makes a difference. Science Daily reports:
In homes with bare floor entryways, the highest levels of the herbicide were found in carpeted living rooms and bedrooms. In homes with carpeted entryways, the levels were higher there than in other parts of the house.
Having a rug or carpet in the entryway of the house helps “limit the further migration of those residues into the living areas of the home where children are more likely to play on the floor,” says the report’s lead author, Marcia Nishioka, M.S., a senior research scientist at Battelle.
The results of the study show that it may be fairly straightforward to limit indoor exposure, says Nishioka. “The important message here is that track-in of herbicides and pesticides from the lawn can be limited by simple control procedures,” she says. “The consistent removal of outdoor shoes at the door by both the homeowner applicator and children, or the use of a commercial applicator, can reduce the levels brought indoors. Carpeting at the door, rather than a bare floor there, can be used to catch the residues that do enter.”
Your shoes make contact with many different surfaces throughout the day. From parks and school to neighborhood lawns, you are inadvertently tracking herbicides and pesticides into your home on your shoes where they remain for a year. Take your shoes off at the door and install a mat or carpet at the entrance to reduce track-in residue. These simple steps will protect your family from additional pesticide and herbicide exposure.
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