Archive for November, 2009

How Did Dangerous Chemicals Like Phthalates Slip Past Science?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009


Test-Tube_250x250You can’t help but wonder how all these toxins are slipping by us. One after another, we find that chemicals we thought were safe are not. We use them in good faith, then find out they are implicated in very serious health conditions. You begin to lose your faith in science. How does this happen?

There are many reasons behind it, but one problem is the testing protocols: for the most part, the chemicals (when tested at all) are tested for high level exposure (a large quantity in a short period of time), or occupational exposure (the level isn’t as high, but it is continual for eight or so hours every day.)

What they have not traditionally checked for is the effects of continuous, low level exposure in a non-occupational setting. Which is one of the reasons why, after a chemical that has been tested with traditional protocols, found to be safe, and has even been on the market for years, it is found to cause serious health conditions.

Fortunately, it is now beginning to be widely recognized that the ‘standard’ approach to toxicology testing just doesn’t cut it. This recognition is, I believe, reflected in the changes being made at the EPA. The EPA knows they have not been providing the service we expect from them – to protect us and the environment – and they want to do something about it.

In the meantime, there are testing services that go beyond traditional protocol; testing done with the recognition that exposure other than high level or occupational can also be dangerous. These services are largely offered by companies and foundations that are considered ‘environmental’.

At Naturepedic, we have our crib mattresses tested and certified by GREENGUARD Environmental Institute. Our own kids sleep on them; we know they’re safe.

Cleaning Baby’s Nursery Air with House Plants

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

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Years ago I read a book called “How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office.” The book is very informative. It covers the various factors that contribute to our poor indoor air quality – everything from the 1973 OPEC oil embargo to new materials used for building, furnishings, and so on – and tells us which plants absorb and help neutralize the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being emitted from these materials. It’s very specific – tells you which plants are good for which compounds.

I lost my copy of the book in a move, and am definitely going to get another. The link above goes to Amazon.com if you’re interested in getting one.

What reminded me of this book is that I just read the results of a two-year study conducted by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) on house plants cleaning indoor air. They put each plant in sealed, Plexiglas chambers, injected chemicals into the chambers and monitored the results.

They came up with a list of the top 10 plants most effective in removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air. Here they are, with links to all but the most common few:

Of course, you also want to do everything you can to keep the offending substances out of your home in the first place. At Naturepedic, we help you address this with our crib mattresses, which are certified by GREENGUARD so you know they aren’t contributing to the VOCs in your household.

Check out the NASA study, read the book, and load up on the right plants. And make sure your children and the kids in your friends’ and family’s households are protected with Naturepedic toddler and crib mattresses.

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Naturepedic May Make You a Customized Mattress or Pad

Friday, November 13th, 2009

BABY-IN-STROLLER

Did you know that at Naturepedic we make custom-made pads? Sometimes babies spend a lot of time in their playpen – they might hang out there most of the day, with the playpen in the living room where mom can see them – or in their carriage. When I was younger, babies would be put in their carriage in the fresh outside air on the front porch for a nap. They could be there for a couple of hours.

Babies can also spend a lot of time in portable cribs when they go to visit family, friends or even the babysitter. And some spend hours every day in the equivalent of a car seat – the kind that can be taken out of the car to rest on tables or floors, can change positions so the baby can lie down and so on. It’s an easy way for mom to keep the baby with her no matter what she’s doing – taking the baby to the laundry room, the kitchen and so on, lets mom get things done while also spending time with the baby.

Naturepedic will make custom pads for many of these items. We’ll make them with the same materials we use for our toddler and crib mattresses so you can be sure you’re baby is not exposed to potentially toxic chemicals like PVC/vinyl or phthalates, and all the other stuff that many other brands of toddler, crib mattresses and pads contain.

Just contact us by phone or email and we’ll discuss what you need.

Can A Naturepedic Crib Mattress Help Mom Get More Sleep?

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

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When I was pregnant with my son, I had very unreal expectations in the sleep department. I was told the baby would sleep 12 to 15 hours a day and would be eating about every four hours. That added up fine for me – baby eats at 8:00 p.m., sleeps until midnight, eats again, sleeps until 4:00 a.m., eats again, sleeps until 8:00 a.m. – I shouldn’t have any trouble fitting 7 or 8 hours of sleep in there, right? Wrong; oh so very wrong.

In case you’re not initiated, it goes more like this: baby eats then gets to sleep about 8:30 p.m. You have some things to finish up; you hit the sack at 11:00. Baby wakes up hungry at midnight. You feed him, but he’s tired and keeps falling asleep. So the eating process is very slow. An hour later, he’s fed. But now he’s awake, smiling and gurgling, and he wants to play! An hour later, he’s ready to go back to sleep. Now there’s two hours left until the 4:00 a.m. feeding. You have a little trouble getting back to sleep and, an hour after you finally doze off, it’s feeding time again. This time it doesn’t take quite as long but, still, it’s 5:30 before you get back to sleep. At 7:00 a.m. you’re woken by your husband getting ready for work, and the 8:00 a.m. feeding follows shortly thereafter.

You’ve had since 8:30 p.m. the night before to get 7 or 8 hours sleep, but you’ve only slept 3 ½ hours! And this could go on for months. Obviously, the solution is to get the baby on your schedule as soon as possible so he, and you, can sleep through the night.

Can a Naturepedic crib mattress help? While I certainly can’t say an organic cotton crib mattress free of PVC/vinyl, phthalates and other potentially harmful chemicals will help a baby sleep through the night, look at it this way: Studies have linked phthalates to a lot of health problems: hormonal and structural reproductive development in boys, asthma and rhinitis in both male and female children, and effects on the pituitary, thyroid, thymus, ovaries, testes, lung, kidneys, liver, and blood in animal studies – more human studies are needed.

Really, how well would you sleep with that going on?

p.s.  If you’re interested in a print of the fabulous painting above, “Sleeping Mother” by Christian Krohg, click the image.

Latex Banned in Massachusetts School District

Thursday, November 5th, 2009


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I used to think latex was a godsend. It came from a tree – what could be safer? As it turned out, it’s become the bane of many health workers’ existence. But health care workers aren’t the only ones affected. In fact, latex gloves have been banned in several states, and the district of Sandwich in Cap Cod, Massachusetts has just banned latex from their schools.

The problem with latex isn’t just latex allergy; true latex allergy is pretty rare. But continued exposure can cause a person to develop a sensitivity to latex which can have symptoms so severe it’s virtually impossible to distinguish from a true allergy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) symptoms “usually begin within minutes of exposure; but they can occur hours later and can be quite varied. Mild reactions to latex involve skin redness, rash, hives, or itching. More severe reactions may involve respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, and asthma (difficult breathing, coughing spells, and wheezing). Rarely, shock may occur; however, a life-threatening reaction is seldom the first sign of latex allergy.” See more info on the CDC latex webpage.

We don’t use latex in our crib mattresses because of the allergy/sensitivity potential. It’s just not a risk we would want to take with our own kids, and we don’t want other parents to have to cope with it either. Babies spend 12 to 15 hours a day in their cribs – that’s pretty high exposure! If you’re looking for a crib mattress without latex, check us out.