Archive for the ‘Non-Toxic Toys and Children’s Gifts’ Category

Safe, Inexpensive Baby Gifts for the New Arrival

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011


Phthalates-Free Duckies

Did you know that toy sales in the U.S. a few years ago reached $22 billion! That’s in just one year. Wow. A huge industry. And, when you consider that kids used to go outside and climb trees for fun, it’s relatively new. But how many of those toys are made with potentially harmful chemical materials? Probably a pretty hefty portion.


If you’re looking for safe gifts for a new baby, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) staff recently added a baby to their extended family and they did a little research to find gifts for the new addition. Fortunately, they passed their research onto us. Talk about a time saver!

Here’s their list of suggestions, along with EWG’s special Amazon.com links, where you can get good deals, and have a portion of what you spend go to EWG to support what they’re doing – which is immensely helpful to parents and children everywhere. Check out these products:

Glass baby bottles

BPA-free baby bottles, in case you need to use plastic

A natural wood, unpainted rattle, which could do double duty as a teether

A cuter, safer, version of the traditional rubber duckie, phthalates free

Chlorine-free disposable diapers
or cloth diapers, something all new parents need

A wonderful Dr. Seuss board book to get an early start on teaching the baby the alphabet

Organic cotton onesies, cozy and safe, and also high on the list of required items

All of these gifts are something that parents really need and appreciate. None are expensive, and all are good for girls and boys!

If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, consider getting a Naturepedic organic crib mattress, a baby pillow, or bedding. All made with the healthiest, non-allergenic materials – no potentially toxic fumes off-gassing into the air the baby breathes. What parents wouldn’t appreciate that!?

Healthy Stuff Database Makes it Easier To Live Toxic Free

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011


I want to introduce you to a great site – an indispensable resource for parents who want their kids to grow up toxic-free, or for anyone who’s interested in creating an environment free of dangerous toxic chemicals. The site is Healthy Stuff, and the features of their searchable database are what make this site so special.

When you arrive on the homepage you will see several categories of stuff: toys, children’s products, pets, cars, apparel and accessories, and home improvement.

Just click any of the categories, let’s take Toys as an example, and you will find a summary of why we need healthy toys, results of tests screening toys for toxic metals, chemicals, and PVC, and links to the following:

* Products with No Detected Chemicals of Concern
* Products with Low Concern Levels
* Products with Medium Concern Levels
* Products with High Concern Levels

The lists are alphabetical, so it’s pretty easy to find what you’re looking for.

As you go through the products, you can also keep a list of things you’re interested in following up. You can save the list and even share it with your family and friends!

You can also use their search tool, which lists by brand, type or chemical detected.

This database is great for finding good products as well as checking into the potentially toxic contents of those you already have.

Overall, a pretty comprehensive tool. You won’t find every single product there, but there are thousands. And they’re pretty easy to find. Give it a try!

Over One Third of Children’s Toys and Products Contain Chemicals that are Linked to Learning and Developmental Disabilities

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011


non-toxic safe baby toysWe all like buying toys for our kids. We usually have several in the toy chest even before the baby is born. Shortly after birth little boys are often presented with footballs and miniature hockey sticks; little girls with what we hope will be their favorite dolls; and both get the teddy bears and rubber duckies.

But before you go out on a shopping spree, you should have more information on which toys are actually safe. We’re not talking about the usual safety concerns – small parts in a baby’s mouth, we’re talking about chemicals.

We already know that rubber duckies, or any toy made of vinyl, may well contain phthalates or other chemicals you really don’t want your baby to ingest. But phthalates aren’t the only toxic chemicals you have to worry about.

In fact, according to the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health, over one third of children’s toys and products contain chemicals that are linked to learning and developmental disabilities?

How’s that for a scary statistic?

To help handle the problem and make sure parents are informed about which toys are safe and which aren’t, Senator Roger Kahn of Michigan is drafting legislation designed to “to protect your kids from toxic chemicals found in their most popular toys.”

Says Senator Kahn, “I don’t want them to get poisoned from cadmium or zinc or arsenic or anything.”

If you’re in Michigan, you’re in luck. You have a Senator that recognizes the problem and cares enough to do something about it.

At Naturepedic, we protect children by making crib mattresses that have been independently tested and certified so we, and you, can be sure our products don’t emit any harmful chemical fumes your baby might breathe while spending 15 or so hours in the crib everyday.

But it doesn’t stop with the crib. Toys are a very big concern.

Find out more about the chemicals in toys on the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health. There is also information in our blog Unsafe Toys 2010: What Toys To Avoid this Holiday Season, and What to Buy that you may find useful.

If you would like information on specific toys and children’s products, check out HealthyStuff.org’s very helpful list. It categorizes products with ‘None,’ ‘Low,’ ‘Medium,’ and ‘High’ levels of concern.

You can also find a list of websites with safe and fun toys on the Toys page of Debra’s List.

Do your baby and yourself a favor: Get them safe toys.

Unsafe Toys 2010: What Toys To Avoid this Holiday Season, and What to Buy

Monday, December 20th, 2010


Since we don’t have the advantage of being able to test for potentially dangerous chemicals in kids’ toys, it’s fortunate that others do – and will give us the results. Each year, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) publishes Trouble in Toyland, the report of an investigation into the safety of children’s toys. They go to stores, get lab reports, check recalls (their research has led to more than 150 recalls), and let us know what we definitely should not buy for our kids. They also give us guidance on what we should buy.

Following the most recent President’s Cancer Panel Report – which focused on the relationship between chemicals and cancer – Trouble in Toyland’s focus this year was on chemicals (although things that can be choked on are included as well – always an issue). Their list of what toys not to buy is in the Trouble in Toyland report (very worth reading all the way through), but you can get also a quick look on their Unsafe Toy List 2010.

There are only eight unsafe toys on the list, but they are definitely very popular items likely to attract many buyers and kids – including you, and yours. Check the list for the names, photographs, and so on.

What does PIRG recommend?

Avoid PVC/vinyl toys and brightly colored plastics.

Stay away from toys with small parts and from toys small enough for kids to choke on if they put it in their mouths. This includes small balls and balloons, which can completely block your child’s airway and suffocate them.

Choose toys made with unpainted wood and other natural materials like wood or cotton.

Anything colored should be verified as having used nontoxic dyes or paints.

Don’t buy costume jewelry for kids. It usually contains lead or other harmful chemicals.

Knowing your child will be safe with the toys you select for the holidays makes giving even more fun.

Enjoy!!

Are Bedroom Chemicals Causing Your Child’s Asthma, Allergies or Eczema?

Friday, October 29th, 2010


toxic chemicals and allergies, asthma and eczemaHaving a Naturepedic crib mattress will help handle many of the potentially toxic chemicals in your child’s bedroom. But the chemicals in crib mattresses are not the only ones you have to watch out for. In fact, some of the other common chemicals have now been linked to asthma, allergies and eczema in children. Check out this new study.

This recent study, conducted in Sweden focused on analyzing the air in children’s bedrooms. The researchers were looking for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – gases that are emitted from liquids or solids and which can damage the environment and human health. They tested the air for 8 different VOCs in the bedrooms of 400 children. Nearly half of the children suffered from allergies or asthma, and the other half were healthy.

What they found was a link between the presence of PGEs – propylene glycol and glycol ethers – and asthma, allergies and eczema. In fact, children with PGEs in their bedroom air were between 50 and 180 times more at risk of developing asthma, rhinitis (cold symptoms) and eczema than children whose bedroom air was free of these chemicals.

The study also linked bedroom air containing PGEs to a higher incidence of kids developing antibodies to cats, dogs and pollen. In other words, they are sensitive to pollen and cat or dog dander (usually), and may develop allergic symptoms in the future or already have them.

PGEs can be found in water-based paints and cleansers as well as some plastic toys and packaging. Propylene glycol is also a common ingredient in personal care products – everything from shampoos, soaps, creams, ointments, deodorants and toothpaste to laundry detergents, floor wax and processed foods. So, there is plenty of opportunity for it to get into household air.

Propylene glycol penetrates the skin very quickly and, in addition to the allergy symptoms, can cause damage to the brain, liver and kidneys. In fact, the Environment Protection Agency recommends that people working with propylene glycol avoid skin contact.

Amazing, isn’t it, that propylene glycol is so common despite these warnings?

The researchers involved in the study concluded that more testing had to be done. That’s pretty standard – one test after another. But they did also commit to the idea that PGE exposure causes or exacerbates multiple allergic symptoms.

How do you get rid of PGEs? Well, start by removing products containing them from your home. And don’t buy anymore.

How do you know which products contain propylene glycol and glycol ethers and which don’t? Some products list them on the label and many, probably most, don’t. In food, propylene glycol is listed as E 1520. For some types of products, like industrial applications and cosmetics, there is no legal requirement to list these ingredients at all. However, there is a household products database that can give you the information – just type the name of the product into the search box to see the contents. For personal care products and cosmetics, check Skin Deep. They also have a good search engine that lists tons of products.

To find alternatives, check the Internet for things like non-toxic cleansers, cosmetics, and so on. Also, Debra’s list has non-toxic alternatives for just about everything. For PGE-free food, simple buy organic and fresh, but continue to read labels of packaged products and investigate further if needed.

It seems there’s no end to harmful household toxins. But, in fact, there is. Once you get the hang of it and know what to look for, you’ll find that finding and using products that are not harmful is easy. And as a result, you and your children will be healthier!

Are Antibacterial Socks, Shoes and Underwear Safe for Your Kids?

Monday, October 18th, 2010


It is understandable that parents would want to keep their kids away from fungus, germs, and other bacteria. Consequently, it’s no surprise that we can now buy such things as anti-bacterial socks, shoes and underwear for our kids. But are these products safe? In fact, some of the antibacterial materials used in these products are under investigation by the FDA and EPA.

There are many natural ways to remove or inhibit the growth of fungus and bacteria – baking soda, certain essential oils, and so on. But many of the products contain something called Microban®, of which one of the ingredients is triclosan.

We wrote about Triclosan in a blog not too long ago – see Germs or Toxic Chemicals – Do We Really Have to Make that Choice? – but, at the time, didn’t realize that triclosan was also in Microban.

The FDA approved triclosan for use – but that was 30 years ago. Since that time, studies have linked triclosan to cancer, hormonal disruption, including thyroid conditions, liver problems, allergies, and more.

Triclosan – largely known as an ingredient in cosmetics, soaps, body washes and other personal care products – is now on the EPA’s Chemicals of Concern list and under investigation. How long it will be legal is up in the air. Rumor has it the results of the investigation were supposed to be available this fall but, so far, they haven’t been released.

We can assume that if triclosan is banned, Microban might be on the way out, too.

Read more about Microban and triclosan in Is the Chemical Triclosan in Your Socks?

Parents, in the meantime, would be wise to stay away from Microban products until the jury has returned its verdict.

Of course, there is no shortage of socks, shoes, underwear, and so on that pose no risk whatsoever! They don’t contain these potentially dangerous chemicals. Generally, these are natural cotton, wool, silk and other natural materials. However, there are some products that may say ‘naturally antimicrobial’ on the label because they fight germs with natural substances inherent it the materials. If there is any question about what chemicals or substances are used, contact the manufacturer.

GREENGUARD Contest Helps You Provide Clean, Non-Toxic Indoor Air for Your Child

Monday, October 11th, 2010


Click to Enter in Paragraph 2 of This Blog

There are several cities that provide a pollution index on news and weather stations. The index is used to let people know when the air is so polluted that it’s safer to stay indoors. But these indexes don’t take into account the studies that have shown indoor air to be potentially far more polluted than the air outside. Would you like a nursery for your child that is full of clean air? Here’s your chance. A new contest!


This new contest from GREENGUARD offers the winner a chance to hand-pick each item in their child’s nursery from a selection of GREENGUARD-certified (which means no off-gassing of harmful chemicals) items. All you have to do is enter the GREENGUARD Big Bundle of Joy $10,000 Nursery Giveaway. You don’t even have to buy anything!

This is a great opportunity. You’re not just getting $10,000 worth of ‘stuff’, it’s $10,000 worth of some of the best, healthiest, safest stuff available for kids. You can do your entire nursery in attractive, high quality goods and materials that will not off-gas potentially harmful vapors in the room. Your child’s room will look great – and you will have peace of mind!

You can win a crib mattress from Naturepedic, cribs and other furniture from Q collection junior, hardwood flooring from Anderson, and more.

Even if you’re not the grand prize winner, it’s still worth entering the contest: five second-place winners will get a Naturepedic mattress, and 30 third-place winners get Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaning System.

Although the GREENGUARD guys are probably full of heart, there’s another reason they’re doing this contest: they want to raise the awareness of indoor pollution. In the words of GREENGUARD’s Executive Director, Henning Bloech:

“Indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and up to 100 times more polluted following renovation or new construction. Much of that pollution comes from chemicals called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can off-gas from furniture, furnishings, cleaning products, and other materials.

“Exposure to airborne contaminants like VOCs can cause or exacerbate a multitude of short- and long-term health complications—including asthma, the world’s fastest growing incurable chronic disease among children. Other chemicals to which children are regularly exposed have not been thoroughly studied, so their potential health impacts are currently unknown. And because children’s bodies are still developing, and because they inhale more air more rapidly than adults do, children are especially vulnerable.

Really, this isn’t just about a game or a sweepstakes,” Mr. Bloech added. “It’s about the health of our children and the quality of the air they breathe.”

The contest is over 1/31/2011. Take advantage of it, and tell your friends!

New Pesticide Marketing Campaign May Be Confusing. What Should You Believe?

Thursday, October 7th, 2010


In the not too distant future you may see advertisements, information hand-outs, signs in the produce areas of grocery stores, you might even hear radio advertising, all promoting the idea that the pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables really aren’t harmful. If you’re concerned about pesticides – which would make you part of a whopping 90% majority of the U.S. population – you might wonder if other information you’ve received on the dangers of pesticides is actually true. Well, here’s the story behind the ads.

Recently, the Federal government approved $180,000 for the Alliance for Food and Farming to “help with a public education campaign to correct misconceptions that some produce items contain excessive amounts of pesticide residues.” The ‘produce items’ being referenced are those on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List – the top 12 on a list showing the pesticide residue on about 50 fruits and vegetables.

EWG suggests we buy organically-grown Dirty Dozens so we can avoid the pesticides. The Alliance group, on the other hand, says there is no evidence of a health risk.

The EWG information is based on analysis of 89,000 tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The tests were on fruits and vegetables that had already been washed and/or peeled – basically, in the same conditions under which they would normally be eaten.

So, there is no doubt that the pesticide residues are there.

Why does the Alliance say there is no health risk? One of the Alliance associates said the EPA rules protect us. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a rigorous, health-protective process for evaluating the potential risks of pesticides on food. This process includes considerations for fetuses, infants and children as well as adults.”

But, the EPA doesn’t have the same faith in their ability to protect us – as is clear from a speech given by EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, in her address to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco:

“A child born in America today will grow up exposed to more chemicals than a child from any other generation in our history. A 2005 study found 287 different chemicals in the cord blood of 10 newborn babies – chemicals from pesticides, fast food packaging, coal and gasoline emissions, and trash incineration. They were found in children in their most vulnerable stage. Our kids are getting steady infusions of industrial chemicals before we even give them solid food. Now, some chemicals may be risk-free at the levels we are seeing. I repeat: some chemical may be risk-free. But as more and more chemicals are found in our bodies and the environment, the public is understandably anxious and confused. Many are turning to government for assurance that chemicals have been assessed using the best available science, and that unacceptable risks haven’t been ignored.

”Right now, we are failing to get this job done. Our oversight of the 21st century chemical industry is based on the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. It was an important step forward at the time – part of a number of environmental wins from the 1970s, like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, not to mention the formation of the EPA. But over the years, not only has TSCA fallen behind the industry it’s supposed to regulate – it’s been proven an inadequate tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects.”

Add to that the revelations and recommendations made in the 2010 President’s Cancer Panel Report, entitled Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now:

“Many known or suspected carcinogens first identified through studies of industrial and agricultural occupational exposures have since found their way into soil, air, water and numerous consumer products…Some of these chemicals have been found in maternal blood, placental tissue, and breast milk samples from pregnant women and mothers who recently gave birth. Thus, chemical contaminants are being passed on to the next generation, both prenatally and during breastfeeding.”

“Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications.”

It’s pretty clear from the EPA and President’s Cancer Panel statements that the pesticide concerns of 90% of the U.S. population are well-founded.

I hope this information helps you in the decision making process if the marketing campaign that $180,000 is supposed to pay for ever does become a reality.

Get Prepared Now for a Safe, Non-Toxic Halloween

Monday, October 4th, 2010


non-toxic halloween costumeHalloween is just around the corner and many of us are going to be dressing our kids up and taking them out trick-or-treating. But did you know that the make-up, facemasks, synthetic hair and even costumes can contain toxic materials?

Lipsticks and face paint, for example, often contain lead – which can impair brain development even at low levels.

Nail polish could contain phthalates and toluene – both of which have been linked to hormone disruption and cancer.

But don’t despair! There are also plenty of safe products that will do the trick.

If you’re getting your little guys out there for Halloween, do it safely. Read more about what to avoid and safe, non-toxic alternatives at Tips to Green Your Halloween.

Some Kids’ Products from China Not in Compliance with Toxic Chemical Regulations

Thursday, September 30th, 2010


phthalates in kids productsAs of February 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) banned the use of phthalates, chemicals that soften PVC so it can be used as a waterproof vinyl covering in crib mattresses, in soft vinyl toys, pacificers and other baby and children’s products. The phthalates restriction applies to “children care articles” which are defined as “intended to facilitate sleep, feeding, sucking or teething for children aged 3 or younger”. Within that group, if the item can be placed in the mouth or sucked, then six phthalates are banned. If not, then only three are banned. Further review and study was to be done to determine whether a ban should also be placed on additional phthalates.

So … how goes the battle? Are our children’s products now free of these dangerous chemicals? One of the organizations used to find out this info is called AsiaInspection, a Hong Kong company formed in 2004 to test, inspect and generally run quality control on Asian goods for importers around the world.

Recently, AsiaInspection conducted tests on kids’ toys from China to determine if the goods meet the phthalates-content requirements.

How did they fare? About 25% of the kids’ toys they tested contained dangerous levels of phthalates and, therefore, did not conform to the U.S. and European chemical content regulations. In fact, one product, a toy first aid kit, contained 130 times the phthalates allowable under European law.

To conduct the tests, AsiaInspection randomly chose 35 toys made in China. They then tested the toys against the regulations contained in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in the U.S. and it’s European counterpart REACH (which stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of Chemicals).

What can we as parents do to ensure that our kids’ products are safe?

1. Check to see that labels or company websites state that their products are in compliance with CPSIA standards. If necessary, call and talk to them about it.

2. Find out exactly what organization certified the products for that company.

3. Check out the certifying organization to make sure it’s recognized and on the level.

Also, it’s a good idea to find manufacturers you trust and use them as much as possible. Naturepedic, for example, has all the right certifications and is a trusted name in crib mattresses, mattresses for cradles, bassinets and so on, changing pads, mattress pads and toppers, and bedding.

Look for your own trusted names in toys, clothing and other children’s articles and stick with them. Then you’ll never have to worry.