March 10, 2011 02:00 PM

Courtesy Vanguard Press

We worry about germs, air quality, vaccinations — but could it be that the things that have potential to hurt us are actually in our homes?

That’s the gist of The Healthy Home, a new book by microbiologist Dr. Myron Wentz and his son, Dave, which explores the hidden dangers in our most sacred spots.

“I debated for a few years if I ever wanted to bring a child into this toxic world,” Dave tells PEOPLE Moms & Babies. “I was worried that the kids we bring in now wouldn’t have a chance. But I didn’t want to be scared, I wanted to be empowered.”

The father-son team break their book down into rooms, explaining what has the potential to be harmful where (and how) you can fix it.

“We spend time in our home sleeping, rejuvenating. That’s why we have to clean it up,” Dave explains. “Once we do that, the greater environment will be helped tremendously.”

Dave says he was surprised to learn about the dirty details of dry cleaning. “I’d never thought about it,” he admits. “But they embed chemicals in the clothes that they don’t ever remove, and those chemicals are known to be toxic.”

For Myron, gaining a greater understanding of electromagnetic radiation is a big concern. “Everyone in the world is being exposed via cell phones,” he says. “But we don’t yet know what effect these things have.”

The writers say there are many misconceptions about what clean really is, too. “A lot of people are worried about their own germs, and dirt in their homes, so to take care of that they’re using toxic chemicals to sterilize and kill everything they can,” Dave says.

Meanwhile, those residues are left on surfaces, and they’re “more dangerous than what’s being removed.” (A simple solution? Green cleaners.)

Though portions of the book can sound downright scary — who knew our toothpaste and mouthwash could be harmful? — the Wentzes say they’re not trying to frighten, but educate.

“We want to tell people that there are easy solutions, and to make one or two steps at a time,” Dave explains. “Day after day, month after month will add up to a huge change if you make a 10 percent lifestyle change here and there.”

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