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In Plain Sight: While You Were Sleeping

In the third installment of In Plain Sight, we sneak a peek into the bedroom, where there’s far more to fear than monsters under the bed.

  • The walls: Lead paint is common in homes built before 1980. Especially hazardous for children, lead poisoning has been linked to nervous system damage, kidney damage, stunted growth, and delayed development. Think you’re in the clear because your house is free of lead paint? Think again.  Even lead-free paint contains up to 10,000 chemicals; 300 of these are known toxins, and 150 have been linked to cancer.
  • The floor: Carpeting harbors allergens like dust mites, pet dander, mold spores and other potentially aggravating proteins. It also contains volatile organic compounds and chemicals, which can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and asthmatic reactions. Longer-term health issues–including leukemia, lymphoma, cognitive impairment and hearing loss–are also possible.
  • The bed: Many mattresses are treated with polybrominated diphenylethers, or PBDEs, which are used as flame retardants. These toxic chemicals have been known to cause damage to the thyroid, the immune system and brain development functions.
  • The closet: Once popular for preserving textiles, moth balls are now recognized as dangerous toxins. Breathing the chemical vapors from moth balls can kill red blood cells, irritate the respiratory tract, and damage the liver and kidneys. If inhaled by pregnant women, the chemicals in moth balls can lead to hemolytic anemia in fetuses.

Photo by Bruce Berrien.