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Leave Your Children in the Dust

January 2003
Leave Your Children in the Dust

I used to think that scientific researchers had one main goal in life: spoiling our fun. If they found us eating stuff we enjoy, they'd show us we're at risk for heart disease. If they found us wrestling, they'd show us we're at risk for brain atrophy.

Scientist: 'My research shows that your wrestling career, with so little brain activity, may result in atrophy.'

Professional wrestler: 'Wow! That's great news! I've always wanted a trophy.'

My skepticism about researchers is fading though, thanks partly to a new study that promises to make my life easier. The study suggests that a dusty home may be healthier for children!

No, that's not a misprint. Dust is good for kids, according to the surprising study, which evidently wasn't sponsored by the Hoover Vacuum Co. Duh!

Apparently, early exposure to germs in household dust helps children build strong immune systems, protecting them from developing allergies or asthma. Excuse me for a moment while I slide my four-month-old daughter across the back of my television set. Nothing like solving two problems at once!

Next time my wife complains about dust in our home, I'm going to shake my head and say, 'Please try to think about the baby! She needs all the dust she can get. Why else do you think I've been emptying the dustpan in her crib? Instead of complaining, you should be nominating me for Father of the Year.'

Some of my friends, I'm sorry to report, have spotless, immaculate homes. Their children can't even find dirt on their television sets, except by watching Howard Stern. Someone ought to call the health department. Their homes may need to be quarantined. Perhaps they should be required to take a course in hygiene.

Allergies are a growing problem in industrialized countries, what with everyone relying on antibiotics and antibacterial cleaners to keep germs away. If there's one word that captures the obsessive cleanliness of today's generations, it's 'Atchoo!'

My wife has long warned me about household cleaners, concerned that they do more harm than good. Indeed, some of the chemicals I've used in our bathroom are so powerful, there's a law against exporting them to Iraq. We wouldn't want Mr. Hussein to get his hands on Mr. Clean.

In case you're wondering, the study was conducted in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, where farm children are exposed to many germs (Now you know why it's called Germany). Even though their bedding contains a lot of dust, farm children have fewer problems with allergies. And unlike children in urban areas, they aren't even allergic to hard work.

Given these findings, it may be a good idea to let your children sleep in a sandbox. But here's a caveat: Too much dust can be harmful. Consult your doctor on the right amount for your child.

Coming soon to a store near you: Johnson & Johnson's Baby Dust. Not just for the baby's bottom. If your child gets into the bottle, you can just smile and say, 'Bye-bye allergies! Another one bites the dust.'

Remember: In the modern world, it's not survival of the fittest. It's survival of the filthiest.

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