5 Tips to Protect Your Children from Toxic Chemicals

I was lucky enough to be able to write a blog article for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and thought I would share it here on the EB blog.  Enjoy.

Today's Monster In The Closet - Toxic Chemicals
When I was a little girl I never worried about what I put into or on my body.  As a child of the 1970's I was more concerned with making sure my hair was feathered just right, perfecting disco dancing and watching Nadia Com─âneci steal the show at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal - and I mistakenly thought I could rely on my parents to protect me.  They did a good job keeping me safe from scary monsters under my bed, mean kids on the playground and anything else that I thought might hurt me, real or imagined.  It never occurred to me that there were things even they didn't know they were exposing me to that could harm me.

Fast forward through three decades, numerous miscarriages and a frightening health scare from an artificial sweetener and sadly, as an adult, I have come to realize that my parents and I had no idea of the real harm I was ex[posed to.  You see we now know that what was in my phthalate laced baby shampoo, my flame retardant pj's and even in my food and toys were, in all likely hood, more harmful to me than all of the frightening things we could have ever conjured up.

Millennial Parents Know Better but Need More Help Protecting Their Children
These days, thanks to the efforts of organizations like Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, parents have a much better idea of the fact that harmful, toxic chemicals are lurking in the consumer products they purchase and use every single day.  It is becoming common knowledge to moms and dads, and not considered Internet folklore, that 80,000 potentially harmful chemicals are used in their consumer goods in the United States while only a handful of those chemicals have ever been tested by our government for safety.   

Although parent's are more aware than ever of the toxic dangers lurking in their children's lives than they were 20 years ago, many are still confused as to exactly how to reduce their children's exposure.

5 Ways to Protect Your Children From Toxic Chemicals  
Even though it is impossible to eliminate all of the toxic chemicals and their resulting health risks from your children's lives, this July and beyond, you can declare your child's independence from toxic chemicals by following these 5 tips.
  1. Buy Organic as Much as Possible - When we talk about foods, organic refers to the way that agricultural products are grown and processed.  In addition to meeting other strict requirements, organic foods are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers which have been linked to cancer, immune system suppression, miscarriages, Parkisnson's disease and neurological illness -  not to mention massive pollution and environmental decay.  Please also remember that it is not only organic foods that you should strive to purchase.  Look for organics in every area of your consumer purchases.  For example, non-organic personal care, products like shampoo and dental floss, may contain Perfluorinated Compounds (PFC's ) which have been linked to cancer.  And non-organic mattresses, baby products like car seats and furniture may contain toxic flame retardants (PBDEs) which have been linked to neurological and thyroid damage and may cause birth defects. 
  2. Get Rid of Indoor Air Fresheners - Amazingly enough, even though they cost a small fortune, the use of indoor air fresheners is on the rise.  Unfortunately though, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less continuously."  Plus many air fresheners,  including those advertised as “all natural” or “unscented", contain phthalates which are hazardous, endcrine disrupting chemicals known to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems. A 2010 report by the President's Cancer Panel [http://www.shaneshirleysmith.com/2011/02/why-41-of-americans-will-be-diagnosed.html] acknowledged that low doses of endocrine disruptors have health effects that contribute to the development of cancer.  NRDC’s (Natural resources Defense Council) independent testing of 14 common air fresheners, none of which listed phthalates as an ingredient, uncovered these chemicals in 86 percent (12 of 14) of the products tested.
  3. Keep an Eye On Toy Recalls - Believe it or not, heavy metals like lead are still being found in children's toys, jewelry, art supplies, clothing, shoes and even candy.  Lead exposure causes health problems, especially for young children.  Lead exposure can affect children's  developing brains and nervous systems making them suffer from shorter attention spans and making it more difficult for them to learn and read than their unaffected peers. It is important to keep an eye out for the latest recalls due to lead on the Consumer Product Safety Commissions (CPSC) website.  You can even sign up for recall updates to be sent directly to your inbox. 
  4. Reduce Your Children's Exposure to Bisphenol-A (BPA) - BPA, found in many plastics and consumer products, is one of the most widely used chemicals of all time.  It is probably circulating through your body right now as it was found to be present in 93% of 2,517 Americans age 6 and over, tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and it is found in the cord blood of newborns.  Researchers have linked developmental exposure to BPA to reproductive harm, increased cancer susceptibility, and abnormalities in brain development and fat metabolism.  A 2011 study in Environmental Health Perspectives says that even some consumer products listed as BPA free, still leach hormone like chemicals so to protect your children, choose as many stainless steel and glass containers as possible.  Try also to reduce their intake of canned foods and drinks as BPA is still used in the lining of many cans. Since BPA is also prevalent in many cash register receipts made from thermal paper, never let your children handle them. 
  5. Take a Stand and Call on Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act - If this list makes you nervous, it i time to do more than reduce exposure and worry.  There is more that you can do to protect not only your children but children throughout the country.  Contact your Senators and let them know that it is time for a new Federal law to protect American children and their families from toxic chemicals.  Safer Chemicals Healthy Families makes it really easy and it literally takes less than 2 minutes to make a difference to help change the future health of American families.  Do it now and continue to check back in to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families for updates on how close we are to making this important change for the health of our future.
Our future depends on our knowledge and actions. What choices will you make today that will change your health and the health of our world tomorrow? Together we CAN find the path that will lead us to a greener, healthier future. - Shane D. Shirley-Smith

P.S.- People always ask me where I get my organic food and personal care products and I love to tell them about The Green PolkaDot Box! Backed by the Organic Consumer's Association and EnvironmentalBooty.com, you can easily buy NonGMO organic groceries, including Harvest Fresh Organic produce, at wholesale pricing online.  It's like a Sam's club but focused on products for green, healthy living! You can even shop by dietary restrictions like gluten free, vegan or diabetic and it all comes right to your front door. Enjoy!

Sources: http://www.shaneshirleysmith.com/2011/02/why-41-of-americans-will-be-diagnosed.html
Safer Chemicals Healthy Families
Organic Trade Association

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