Good manners to take off shoes indoors or essential for home health

The habit of taking off shoes at the front door is often considered a cultural choice rather than a hygienic choice, but studies conducted by Australian environmental chemists suggest that this is not the case.

Scientists at Macquarie University in Australia, who are studying the home environment and the pollutants present in it, have determined that if you don’t take off your shoes at the door, many harmful pollutants can be brought into your home. Did.

Professor Mark Taylor of Macquarie University, Chief Environmental Scientist at the Victorian Environmental Protection Agency and leading ongoing research Co-authored at Conversation They found that one-third of the material that accumulates in the house is blown into the soles of shoes or enters from the outside.

Research has found that some of the incoming problems are drug-resistant pathogens, also known as superbugs. Super bugs are antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are extremely difficult to treat and life-threatening. who As one of the top 10 threats to public health in the world.

In addition, the study found significant levels of carcinogens, including asphalt residues and lawn chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system that regulates the body’s biological processes.

“It’s very difficult to show that cancer is associated with a particular single exposure, but we advocate a preventative approach to minimizing exposure,” Taylor told The Epoch Times. Said in the email.

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Fit shoes can help you feel happier and more confident. (Syda Productions / Shutterstock)

One of the main focal points of this study was to measure the levels of toxic metals such as lead, arsenic and cadmium in homes in 35 countries. Lead, arsenic, and cadmium are colorless and odorless, making it difficult to identify the source of these metals. It’s also not easy to determine if the toxic metal is on the plumbing of the house or on the floor of the house.

However, this study found a strong association between lead in backyard soil and lead in homes. This indicates that the toxic metal has been blown off or brought home.

Another significant pollutant that shoes can bring into the home is Escherichia coli, a dangerous bacterium found in animal feces.

Although it has been Insisted Taylor argues that the wide distribution of E. coli found in 96% of shoes means that it makes no sense to take them off at home. Homes are a good idea given that high levels of E. coli can make people incredibly ill.

Other pollutants found in the house were radioactive elements in fertilizers and glass. Perfluorinated chemicals — can reduce immune function and disrupt the endocrine system. And microplastic.

Microplastics are very small particles less than 5 millimeters in size and are composed of a mixture of polymers and functional additives. Particles are dangerous to humans because they can damage cells and cause allergic reactions.

Due to the abundance of this dangerous pollutant brought into the house at the soles of the shoes, researchers at Macquarie University put the shoes on rather than the risk of not wearing them at home, such as stumbling or sterilizing the toes. I concluded that the habit of wearing it is more dangerous. House syndrome.

Sterilization House Syndrome refers to the theory that children develop more allergies if they are not adequately exposed to the outside world. But Taylor said these potential risks could easily be addressed by putting on indoor shoes or letting the child walk in nature, rather than walking through the house with very dangerous substances. I said I could.

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But science alone does not encourage people to stop associating practice with cultural identity rather than hygiene. The actual history and general reasons behind custom show the hygienic benefits of practice even in traditional societies.

In an email to the Epoch Times, Cultural Insider and ANU Lecturer Dr. Eve Chen believes that hygiene considerations are the main reason for taking off shoes in Cantonese homes, at least in modern times. I said there is.

“The traditional belief is that the outdoor environment is not clean and is full of dirt, dust and bacteria that can cause physical illness and discomfort.”

“Keeping the house clean and away from sources of pollution mainly motivates the habit of taking off shoes before entering the space of the house.”

Chen said that the practice of taking off shoes at home is not the only thing in her culture.

“Change your” outside “clothes as soon as you get home, avoid sitting in bed if you are wearing” outside “clothes, take a shower before going to bed, etc. Other common China / Guangdong Accompanied by family rules. “

“The central idea of ​​these’rules’ is that you should avoid bringing’dirty things’ into your home from the outside. “

Despite hygiene promoting customs, Chen has a traditional understanding that the spirit is somewhat cultural to the Cantonese and the home is a private place for the family except outsiders. I said there is.

She said that Cantonese people traditionally engage in social activities in public rather than in their homes.

“For some people, inviting guests to their homes is a very rare gesture, and when that happens, the gesture is to show the utmost respect to the guest, and these guests are like a family. It means that it is highly valued and respected enough to be treated by. “

“Therefore,” shoes “as used outside the home for social / practical purposes and may carry substances from the” outside “are intended to be taken off. “

From the guest’s point of view, Mr. Chen said that offering to take off or take off shoes without asking at the entrance of a Chinese / Cantonese house is a practical politeness gesture to show the respect of the host. Said.

“Like’I respect your home and your privacy, and not polluted with dirt from the outside,'” she said.

“I’m not sure about the historical roots of this practice, but I think it has to do with” respect “and” honor “and showing humility like taking off a hat on a solemn occasion. increase. “

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Professor Simone Dennis, Dean of Research Engagement, Influence and Innovation at ANU’s School of Arts and Social Sciences, told The Epoch Times that the history of taking off shoes is old.

“Interestingly, it’s a habit that occurs almost universally, with varying degrees of emphasis,” Dennis said. “That probably means it’s intuitive to people.”

Dennis goes back to the universality of customs around the world that humans tend to classify the world, and for some things like shoes, the classification is the same across multiple different cultures. I said I believe.

“Mary Douglas explained this in her Purity and Danger book in 1966, which uses previous Levi Straussian ideas to help people organize and pattern the world in important ways. Explains how to do that, “she said.

“Binary features-day / night, self / others, life / death-like that. Clean and dirty is a big problem.”

She explained that Douglas wasn’t really a thing. That’s because it’s only categorized when something goes out of place in the human classification system or human classification method.

“For example, the Earth is celebrated as a rich and generative medium for growing things, but when we trace the interior, it’s dirt,” Dennis said. “Hair is gorgeous and shiny. I absolutely hate cakes served at cafes.”

“If you deviate from the assigned location, it will get dirty. You will cross the border.”

Dennis said shoes are considered a threat to the cleanliness and integrity of the house, as they are the main vehicle that separates the outside and all its contaminants from the inside across boundaries.

She added that the strength of the border increased during the pandemic as the epidemic made the threshold of the house more important.

But for Dennis, the habit of taking off shoes is to keep the shoes in the category rather than keeping them untouched at home. Because external pollutants always enter the house in other ways.

“This is a bit like the 5 second rule. Dropping food on the ground and picking it up after 5 seconds doesn’t clean it, but a little ritual work makes you feel better and things get better. I’m back, Dennis said.

“It’s the same with taking off your shoes, and you can virtually remove some of the physical tracking of the material inside.”