The soles of your shoes can drag anything on the street into your home. From fecal remains to bacteria. Normally this does not pose a health risk, but there are cases in which it is really important to take off your shoes when you get home.
The dirt that accumulates inside your house It doesn’t just include the dust and hair left behind by your pets. About a third comes from outside, either brought by the wind or by the soles of dirty shoes, capable of picking up anything that is on the floor.
They say so in The Conversation Mark Patrick Taylor and Gabriel Filipelli, part of a team of environmental chemists who for decades have studied indoor spaces and the pollutants people are exposed to in their own homes, as part of the DustSafe program.
In their article both analyze the question of whether or not it is convenient to take off your shoes at home.
And while the science still has some way to go on this, some findings suggest that while your health may not be seriously compromised, what your soles drag home at least it’s disgusting.
Everything that the soles of your shoes can bring to your house
His studies have determined that the soles of shoes can sometimes carry microorganisms such as drug-resistant pathogens, “including the infectious agents (germs) associated with hospitals that are very difficult to treat“.
To which can be added the carcinogenic toxins of the asphalt residues and endocrine disruptors of lawn chemicals, both scientists say.
Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, studied in 2008 the bacteria present on the soles of shoes and discovered that all kinds of disgusting things inside homes, including poop.
“If you wear shoes for more than a month, 93% will have fecal bacteria on the sole”, commented 10 years later in TODAY Home about their findings. This may be due to animal droppings on the street, but also from the floor of public toilets.
“Besides we find E. coli”, he added. The bacteria is generally harmless, but some strains can cause diarrhea or respiratory infections and illnesses.
As for the work by Taylor and Filipelli, it consisted of measuring and evaluating exposure to a whole series of harmful substances present inside homes. Those detected include:
- Genes that make bacteria resistant to antibiotics, also detected in dust
- Disinfectant chemicals in the home environment
- Perfluorinated chemicals (or PFAS, referred to as “forever chemicals” due to their long shelf life and tendency to remain in the body without degrading).
One of the main goals of his work is to assess the levels of potentially toxic metals (such as arsenic, cadmium, and lead) in homes.
These contaminants, especially lead, a dangerous neurotoxin, are odorless and colorless, the authors explain. “So there’s no way to know if lead exposure hazards are only on outdoor sidewalks and water pipes or if they’re also on the hardwood floors in your living room.“.
“Our studies still suggest a very strong link between the lead in your home and the lead in your garden soil. The most likely reason for this relationship? Air currents, shoes and paws of dogs and cats that carry them inside“, they point out
Should you take off your shoes when you get home?
Beyond the enormous pleasure that (at least for many) this entails, take off your shoes when you enter it also entails leaving potentially dangerous pathogens on your doorstep.
“We all know that prevention is much better than treatment. Taking off shoes is a basic and easy prevention activity for many of us“, advise the authors in The Conversation.
However, it is highly unlikely that the germs you carry on your soles will end up making you sick. Could you increase the risk if you touch your shoes and then your face or eat food off the ground. In fact, as the current pandemic has taught us, when it comes to reducing the risk of contagion of a disease, washing your hands is the most effective.
Moreover, according to specialists consulted in an article in The New York Times, There are other more worrisome sources in your home, such as if someone is sick, or not storing food properly.
On the other hand, the “sterile home syndrome” also comes into play, which refers to the increase in allergy rates in children. Some hypotheses state that it could be related to excessively sterile environments.
Here, the research points to a little dirt is probably beneficial, since some contact with pathogens helps develop the immune system and reduces the risk of allergies.
That said, there is situations in which it is advisable to walk without shoes at home.
It is better not to take them if you have small children who crawl or if someone in the house suffers from allergies or is immunocompromised.
“In cases where the immune system is compromised —as with people who have cancer, have had an organ transplant, or have an infection—there are so many more reasons to take off your shoes when you get home”, explains Lisa A. Cuchara, professor of Biomedical Sciences at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut to the American media.
And of courseif you are going to visit someone who prefers that you take off your shoes to enter.
This news was originally published on Business Insider ES.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism