Archive for April, 2010

Keeping Your Baby Safe at Bath Time

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010


safe bath and personal care products for kidsHaving your baby sleep on a Naturepedic baby crib mattress prevents exposure to many harmful chemicals, but exposure doesn’t end there. Check out this information on bath and personal care products.

While not every personal care product for babies and children contains harmful ingredients, two notable carcinogens that are by-products of the manufacturing and storage process are showing up in a majority of products tested by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition with several notable founding and sponsor members, including the Environmental Working Group. Parents should be aware of what these products are and how to avoid them.

The chemicals of concern are 1,4-dioxane (aka dioxane) and formaldehyde. They are not listed on labels because they are by-products, not ingredients.

Here’s the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics explanation of how they contaminate the products:

“Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives release formaldehyde over time in the container. Common ingredients likely to contaminate products with formaldehyde include quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.

“1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of a chemical processing technique called ethoxylation, in which cosmetic ingredients are processed with ethylene oxide. Manufacturers can easily remove the toxic byproduct, but are not required by law to do so. Common ingredients likely to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane include PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20.”

What Damage Can Be Caused by These Chemicals?

1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde are both known carcinogens.

1,4-dioxane has also been linked to damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys, and exposure has even been fatal to chemical workers. It readily absorbs into the bloodstream.

Formaldehyde can cause coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, itching, and skin irritations, has been linked to allergies and asthma in children, and to the development of leukemia as well as nose, lung, and brain cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Test Results

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 48 commonly used baby products including baby shampoos, bubble baths and baby lotions. Here’s a brief summary of what they found:

* 17 out of 28 products tested – 61 percent – contained both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.
* 23 out of 28 products – 82 percent – contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 parts per million (ppm).
* 32 out of 48 products – 67 percent – contained 1,4-dioxane at levels ranging from 0.27 to 35 ppm

The Campaign acknowledges that using just one of these products might not be a problem – but several of them are used several times a week for years. Add that to toxic chemical exposure from other sources, and that’s quite a load for a little, not as yet developed body.

More Information on the Tested Products and Safer Alternatives

Check out the report on the study, No More Toxic Tub, for a full list of the products tested, the results for each (including which ones tested as safe), more details on 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde, and additional data. It is an interesting and easy read.

If you’re looking for alternatives, check www.cosmeticsdatabase.com – a wonderful database that provides information on individual products. You can look for the safest products there as well seeing which ones you should avoid.

There are plenty of safe products out there for our kids, and you don’t have to be a chemist to find them. All it takes is a little education.

This Earth Day Celebrates a Major Accomplishment

Saturday, April 24th, 2010


Earth Day was officially on 22 April, but in many communities and countries around the world it’s celebrated for the entire week or month. Earth Day was founded 40 years ago by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. His goal was to create a grassroots movement that would show the government just how concerned Americans were about the environment and get laws enacted that would enforce protection of the earth and its inhabitants – us.

By the end of that year, in December 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency opened its doors. A very good start.

Since that time, there have been many years when there has been little to celebrate. Although there has been continual progress, including some milestones, there have also been pretty serious setbacks. For example, of the 80,000 chemicals that have been produced and used in the U.S. since the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted 34 years ago, only 200 have been tested by the EPA, and only five have been regulated.

But in the last year, the EPA has undergone some equally serious reform. Finally, the agency is really buckling down on toxic chemicals, both in the environment and in consumer goods.

There is special attention on children, as it should be. Children are most susceptible to toxic chemicals because their bodies are still growing. In the not too distant future, it is our children and grandchildren, the little ones asleep in their cribs right now, who will lead the way in politics, as teachers, as firefighters, artists, business owners and so on, and so on.

To do their jobs well, to achieve their goals and have a satisfying, happy and productive life, they need to be healthy.

At Naturepedic, we celebrate Earth Day every day. We give children a healthy start in life by manufacturing our award-winning organic baby crib mattresses that are certified by GREENGUARD and enjoy the unique distinction of being the only crib mattress recommended by Healthy Child Healthy World.

Do you have a Naturepedic mattress for your infant or toddler? If not, you might want to celebrate Earth Day/Week/Month by checking them out at http://www.Naturepedic.com.

You can also celebrate Earth Day by working on creating a personal environment that is more chemical-free. It really doesn’t take much to get a good start. Read Going Green in 2010 – A Few Simple Things With A Big Impact for some helpful hints that make a real difference.

Start now, and next year your family will also have even more to celebrate on Earth Day!

How Many Coils Does a Baby Crib Mattress Need?

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010


how many coils are needed in a baby crib mattressBased on some of the blogs and forums I’ve read, there seems to be a lot of confusion about the number of coils needed in the innerspring of a crib mattress. Some say more coils means more support, others say too many coils make a crib mattress too hard and uncomfortable. How are parents supposed to decide what’s best?

Although there are no hard and fast rules about coils, there are a few guidelines that might help.

First, let’s clear up the difference between ‘coils’ and ‘coil count’. A crib mattress, for example, may contain 150 coils. But the ‘coil count’ is listed as 420. What’s the difference? The figure ‘150’ is the number of actual coils in that crib mattress; the coil count, 420, is the number of coils that would be found in an equivalent mattress of full size. So, really, the only number you really have to pay attention to is the “150″ coils.

Next, there are questions about the relationship between the number of coils and the firmness of the mattress. While it is true that a mattress with more coils could be more firm, the number of coils isn’t the only factor on which firmness depends – it also depends on the gauge or thickness of the steel used to make the coils.

For example, a mattress with 250 coils that are made with the same gauge steel as a mattress with 150 will likely be a little more firm. However, if the 250 coils are made with higher gauge (thinner) steel than the 150 coils in the other mattress, there may be virtually no difference.

Firmness can also be affected by the other materials used to make the mattress so, really, the best way to judge whether a crib mattress is firm enough, or not, is covered in our blog, How Firm is Firm Enough for a Baby Crib Mattress?

But there is another factor to consider when you’re looking at coil count, and that is weight distribution. Fewer coils means that the baby’s weight won’t be distributed as evenly as mattresses with more coils. There are several crib mattresses on the market that have 80 coils. Obviously, that’s not going to distribute the baby’s weight as evenly as a mattress with more coils.

That said, the crib mattresses with only 80 coils are generally the least expensive and, frankly, as with other materials used to make a mattress, you get what you pay for.

Our baby crib mattresses start with 150 coils – which provides good weight distribution and, along with our other highest quality materials, also provides a firm, flat, comfortable and non-toxic environment just perfect for your baby.

New Safe Chemicals Act Shifts Accountability and Burden of Proof to Industry

Sunday, April 18th, 2010


Many people have complained about needing a degree in chemistry to understand which products are safe and which are not. New Safe Chemicals Act may enable the protection we need.

In February we wrote a blog about The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act, a new health report from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families. See Toxic Chemicals Are Putting Your Children at Risk. The tireless efforts of many people have finally paid off – landmark legislation that completely overhauls the broken system used by government to protect us from toxic chemicals has been introduced in Congress.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Congressmen Bobby Rush (D-IL) and
Henry Waxman (D-CA) are the authors of the new Safe Chemicals Act, formerly known as the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act.

Here are some of the highlights to give you an idea of what the new law would do:

– (Finally) empower the EPA to regulate toxic chemicals, and act quickly when necessary.

– Ensure the EPA is provided with sufficient information to evaluate the safety of a chemical.

– Establish new research programs to help us understand the risk toxic industrial chemicals pose to children, ourselves, and the environment.

– Force industry to prove their products are safe, both those already on the market and those they introduce in the future. Formerly, the burden of proof was the responsibility of the EPA, which didn’t have the power, information or funding needed to fulfill the obligation.

– Provide the public with transparent and adequate information to make their own judgments and decisions.

– and more.

The Safe Chemicals Act will “breathe new life into a long-dead statute by empowering EPA to get tough on toxic chemicals,” said Senator Lautenberg.

And that’s exactly what we need to protect ourselves, our children, and our environment.

If you would like to read the bill in its entirety, it’s available here.

Stay tuned for updates!

How Firm is Firm Enough for a Baby Crib Mattress?

Monday, April 12th, 2010


firm baby crib mattresses are best for babiesI’ve seen several blogs and forums where people talk and ask questions about how firm a crib mattress should be. One person said “If it feels good to me, it’s okay for my baby.” Is that a good rule of thumb?

In fact, it’s not – unless you like a very firm mattress. Because babies are still growing, their spines and bones need more support than we do.

While there are no precise rules about crib mattress firmness, there are solid enough guidelines to help you choose the right one.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that a baby mattress be firm and flat.

Consumer Reports recommends buying the firmest mattress you can find. In fact, they address the exact comment made by the person on the forum: “Don’t worry that it may feel too firm. If it feels good to you, it’s too soft for your baby,”

To test a crib mattress to determine whether it’s firm enough, Consumer Reports suggests you “Press on the mattress in the center and at the edges. It should snap back readily and should not conform to the shape of your hand.”

In Naturepedic baby crib mattresses, our organic cotton batting makes the mattress surface comfortable without sacrificing firmness. Babies are pretty cozy on our mattresses and they routinely sleep through the night. Soft, comfortable and firm – just right!

More Mainstream Media Coverage Brings the Dangers of Toxics to the Forefront

Sunday, April 11th, 2010


The truth about the effects of toxic chemicals in our everyday lives is getting more mainstream media attention now than ever. Just last week, Time magazine published a list of ten common household toxins that ‘mounting evidence’ shows may be linked to health problems.

Here’s the list, along with where these chemicals are commonly found:

1. Bisphenol A (BPA) – food wrap, water bottles and other plastics
2. Oxybenzone – moisturizers, sunscreens, lip balm
3. Flouride – toothpaste, tap water
4. Parabens – moisturizers, hair care and shaving products
5. Phthalates – skin care treatment products, crib mattresses, toys, shower curtains, just about everything made with pliable PVC/vinyl
6. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) – chewing gum, snack foods, diaper creams
7. Perflouroctanoic Acid – tap water, teflon and non-stick pots and pans
8. Perchlorate – drinking water, soil
9. Decabromodiphenyl Ether (DECA) – flame retardant in electronics, furniture, carpets
10. Asbestos – insulation, drywall, artificial fireplace logs, toys

The Time article doesn’t give a lot of information on each chemical and, of course, the actual list of toxic chemicals commonly found is in the thousands. But that’s not the point.

The important thing is that they are writing about it – more people are being educated, the powers that be will be more motivated to bring the issue to the top of their agenda, change will occur at a more accelerated rate, and we’ll all be living healthier lives.