Nick Horne's Monday Morning

Spring cleaning’s a danger to health

AS the season of Lent takes hold I start looking forward to Easter.

The nagging voice at the back of my mind though says it’s time to at least consider spring cleaning. Not that I am eager to spring clean far from it though de-cluttering is so on trend these days that I have to take it seriously.

An article published recently in the American journal SCIENCE has however given me serious pause as the report has led to warnings concerning shampoo, oven cleaners, deodorants as well as other household products being significant sources of pollution. The same type of air pollution as emitted by cars.

The same ‘volatile organic compounds’ that cars pump out of their exhausts are found in household bleach and pesticides as well as, ladies please note, perfumes.

While significant progress has been made in reducing pollution from cars that process has led to the discovery of the impact of chemicals generally and especially those used in the home for cleaning.

Apparently professional cleaners lungs are as negatively impacted by the fumes from cleaning products as regular smokers of tobacco products!

Clearly spring cleaning needs to be considered a potentially hazardous activity and approached with due care. I suppose I could give up the spring cleaning and put my feet up?

Not so, the US National Cancer Institute advises that too much sitting is associated with diabetes, heart disease and so early death. So on balance not doing the spring cleaning and putting my feet up may not be such a good plan. De-clutter it will have to be while I have a proper think and carefully consider the dangers of spring cleaning.

The wardrobe and the piles of paperwork seem like a good place to start and neither involve the use of dangerous chemicals.

The wardrobe ought to be straightforward, anything I have not worn for a couple of years is going to the charity shop. That should take no more than a few hours.

Clearing away the piles of paper may well take longer but is vital as I accumulate paper all too readily. I have come up with a jolly wheeze which provides the best of both worlds gets rid of the piles of notes and letters and at the same time retains the records that the piles of paper represent to me.

Scan the pages and store the resulting electronic notes and letters on my computer; then shred the paper.

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