60-Second Science

Non-Pristine House May Be Healthful

Exposure to endotoxins, found in musty, older houses and carpets, lowered the chances of eczema and wheezing in kids, according to research presented at this week's meeting of the American Thoracic Society.

You’ve probably heard that exposing kids to a certain amount of dirt and germs when they’re young can make them less prone to allergies later in life.  Now comes news that bacterial toxins can do the same. Endotoxin is a protein that’s shed by certain bacteria when they’re damaged or dead. Which sounds unpleasant. But researchers at the Arizona Respiratory Center in Tucson have found that kids who grow up in houses with plenty of endotoxin are actually less likely to develop eczema or wheezing by the age of 3. Their results are being presented this week at the American Thoracic Society conference in San Francisco.

Musty homes with leaking walls are a likely harbor for endotoxins. But so are houses with carpeting…or those that are more than 30 years old.  But perhaps you shudder at the thought of you and your loved ones tiptoeing through toxins on the path to good health. Then you might be interested in another study being presented at the meeting. Scientists from the University of Seoul find that washing your laundry in hot water…about 140 degrees Fahrenheit…eliminates more dust mites, dog dander, and pollen than warm water. News that should make all you Felix Ungers out there honk with relief.

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