Archive for the ‘safe bath and personal care products for kids’ 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.

Are You Still Using Antibacterial Products on Your Kids?

Monday, December 27th, 2010


Still Killing Germs With Toxic Chemicals?

Are you still using triclosan to protect your kids from germs? A few months ago we wrote a couple of blogs about the dangers of triclosan, the antibacterial chemical used in soaps, cleansers, toothpastes and a variety of other products. Parents are using these antibacterial products on their kids every day, thinking they’re doing the best thing by trying to keep their kids germ-free. But, triclosan is not the way to do it: studies have pretty much proven it’s toxic. Finally, after decades of delay, the FDA is taking action which will probably lead to a ban on triclosan – but will it be fast enough to protect our children from this dangerous chemical? And, if not, what are our alternatives?


If you’d like to read more about triclosan, check out the earlier blogs. The first, Germs or Toxic Chemicals – Do We Really Have to Make that Choice?, is about the studies on triclosan and a lawsuit filed on the FDA’s decades-long delay in rendering a final ruling on its safety. The second, Are Antibacterial Socks, Shoes and Underwear Safe for Your Kids?, revealed the fact that this dangerous chemical is even used in socks, shoes, underwear and other clothing articles that our kids may be wearing right now!

Some public officials are up in arms about nothing being done about triclosan. Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, for example, has been very active in trying to get triclosan off the shelves. His office even contacted more than a dozen companies to get them to voluntarily remove it from their products. A few said they will get rid of the chemical in the near future, but most refused, saying that they are waiting for the FDA review.

Rep. Markey sent a letter to the FDA last week asking for an update. It looks like the FDA is finally going to take action but, unfortunately, that action will probably consist of simply requesting additional information, said FDA spokesperson Karen Riley.

How long will it take for a final ruling? Who knows? It’s taken decades so far.

Eventually, though, triclosan will be banned. There’s no way around it. The evidence against it is too strong.

But as parents, we really need to do something to protect our families now. We can’t wait while industry or government agencies drag their feet. So much damage has been created by chemicals we had assumed were safe; it’s now time to recognize that the only really safe way to go is to assume chemicals guilty until proven innocent.

With that premise as a basis for decision-making, we can be assured we are doing the best to protect ourselves and our children from future disaster.

In the meantime, here is some very good news: You can safely get rid of all the triclosan-containing products in your house without worrying about your kids coming into contact with too many germs: the FDA concluded and announced that triclosan doesn’t get rid of any more germs than good, old-fashioned soap and water!

How do you know if a product contains triclosan? If the label says “antibacterial,” “antimicrobial” or “odor-free,” chances are it contains triclosan. Check the ingredients list and, if it still isn’t clear to you, call the manufacturer. Also, you should know that triclosan is sometimes called microban or irgasan. So, watch for those, too.

Triclosan is actually used in about 140 personal care and household products. For a handy guide on the types of products that might contain triclosan, check out the Environmental Working Group’s home map. It’s easy – just mousing over the house shows you exactly where to look!

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!

Some States Offer Protection Against Harmful Chemicals

Thursday, October 21st, 2010


If you live in New York state and are concerned about protecting your children, and yourself, from the potential toxic chemicals in household cleaning products, you’re going to have a helping hand from New York state government in the very near future.

Even though Federal law does not currently require companies to list their household or industrial cleaning product ingredients, individual states are free to make their own laws and set their own policies.

The state of New York, just one state that is taking action, has had a law on the books for nearly 40 years that requires household and industrial cleaners to provide “unusually detailed breakdowns, complete with percentages,” as well as any research the companies have done on the effects of the ingredients in their products on our health and the environment.

The law has never been enforced. But now, amid growing evidence of the potential health hazards of some of the chemicals used to make these products, and under pressure from consumer groups, New York will finally enforce the law.

The American Cleaning Institute, known until June as the Soap and Detergent Association, says research linking cleaning product ingredients to various health problems – including asthma, antibiotic resistance, and hormone changes – is flawed and the products are safe if used correctly. They also say that the products encourage human health by inhibiting the spread of disease.

But, as we know, there are plenty of non-toxic cleaning products available; and even things as simple as baking soda and vinegar will help prevent the spread of disease.

Some companies are very cooperative, even going as far as listing the chemical contents of fragrances and dyes, which is very unusual. Others feel that disclosing information in that detail risks giving away trade secrets.

Find out more about New York’s plans at NY to Seek Info On Cleanser Contents. Also, New York is not the only state taking action. Find out more about what’s going on in your state on the Safer States website.

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.

Which Chemicals Should You Avoid to Prevent Behavioral and Learning Problems?

Monday, September 27th, 2010


Are food additives making your child sick?

As you may be aware from some of our other blogs or research you’ve done, several studies have shown links to exposure to toxic chemicals and the symptoms known as ADD, ADHD, autism and hyperactivity in kids. Unfortunately, the chemicals in question are not esoteric – they aren’t the kind of chemicals you’re only exposed to if you work in certain industrial environments, for example. They are chemicals our kids come into contact with every day – in fact, they eat them, play with them, sleep in them, are dressed in them and, in many cases, are actually born with them in their body.

ADHD and the other symptoms I’ve mentioned are perhaps not the only side effects of toxic chemicals, but they do present a special set of difficulties. These include low self-esteem, nervousness, being disruptive or aggressive with others, and even reading and comprehension problems. These difficulties can really disrupt the lives of those involved and make it very difficult for kids to have a happy childhood.

Also, if your kids do have these symptoms, they may be exposed to even more toxic chemicals – drugs – which may bring on a whole new set of symptoms.

What can you do in addition to avoiding toxic chemicals in crib mattresses, kids toys, clothes, and the home environment?

Eat organically grown foods, including meat from animals grown without antibiotics or hormones, reduce sugar intake and make sure your kids are getting a balanced diet with eggs for breakfast instead of frosted cereals, and really watch out for food additives as covered in the Feingold Diet.

The Feingold Diet consists of a list of artificial colorings, flavorings, preservatives and other food and packaging additives that have specifically been determined to cause the symptoms you want to avoid. Some of these chemicals are even disguised, on the labels, as things that sound good for us. The term ‘anti-oxidants’, for example, which also includes healthy substances like Vitamins C and E and Essential Fatty Acids, can sometimes be used to describe chemicals that prevent the fats in food from ‘oxidizing’ – meaning ‘becoming rancid’. This is a far cry from the role nutritional anti-oxidants play.

In addition to ingesting, absorbing and inhaling untold amounts of chemicals over the last few decades – things we rarely had to contend with in earlier times – food additives have become part and parcel of our everyday diets. Here’s a sampling of Feingold’s take on the differences between what our kids ate in the 1940’s, compared to the present:

In the 1940s kids brushed their teeth with white toothpaste, ate oatmeal, corn flakes or toast and butter with jam for breakfast. Now they brush with multi-colored toothpastes (attained with the use of food colorings), instant oatmeal with additives that can even make the oatmeal turn blue when milk is added, colored cereals and pop tarts. All made with artificial flavoring and coloring. Even cocoa with whipped cream isn’t safe – today it’s topped with Cool Whip.

Is it any wonder that so many kids are having trouble?

If you want your kids to sleep easy and grow up happy and healthy, start with avoiding chemicals and eating well yourself (the chemicals can pass from parent to unborn child), green your nursery with non-toxic materials and a crib mattress that’s certified as not emitting harmful chemical gases, and eliminate food additives as recommended by Feingold Diet. All the info you need is on the Feingold site, including the research.

More Toxic Chemicals Your Baby Can Do Without

Monday, September 13th, 2010


We live busy lives. Moms and Dads are often out to work, even when children are very young. Of course, we look for time-saving products and conveniences – one of which is the disposable diaper. They work, but are they a healthy option?

In case you haven’t looked into it, here are the facts:

Many disposable diapers are bleached white with chlorine. A by-product of the bleaching process, when chlorine is used, is a very nasty chemical known as dioxin.

Continuous exposure to dioxin, with one disposable diaper after another being used for about a year, causes the dioxin to accumulate in the baby’s body.

The Environmental Protection Agency says dioxin is highly carcinogenic and, per the World Health Organization, it may cause skin reactions, altered reproductive and liver function, and damage to the immune system, nervous system and endocrine system.

That’s definitely serious enough to warrant considering other options, but dioxin is only one chemical on the list of those contained in disposable diapers.

For a more complete list of these chemicals, read Chemicals in Disposable Diapers.

Environmentally speaking, disposable diapers are also a problem: About 92% end up in landfills. Estimate for decomposition? 200 to 500 years.

Cotton diapers, on the other hand, are safe, and after about 150 washes, become cleaning cloths. They take a little more effort, but your baby is safe. If you don’t have time for the extra laundry, you might consider a diaper service. They pick them up and drop them off. Just make sure you use a company that cleans the diapers with non-toxic laundry products.

Our Naturepedic crib mattresses help your kids sleep in a healthy environment. Switching to cotton diapers is a fairly easy transition to make to give your kids an even healthier start in life!

Germs or Toxic Chemicals – Do We Really Have to Make that Choice?

Saturday, September 11th, 2010


What lengths should you go to to protect your children from germs? When Louis Pasteur postulated that minute creatures, invisible to the human eye, were floating in the air, entering our body through our nose and mouth and causing serious illness, he wasn’t met with a very keen reception. People thought he was nuts. Now, more than a century later, the ‘germ theory of disease’ is the basis of modern pathology. But did Pasteur realize at the time that some of the solutions later invented to inhibit the spread of germs could disrupt the endocrine system, interfere with normal development and reproduction and, in fact, endanger the health of all who came into contact with them?

Not likely. But, in fact, that is exactly what happened. Two major alleged germ-fighting chemicals – triclosan and triclocarban, found in anti-bacterial soaps, cleansers, toothpastes and a variety of other products we use every day – have been suspected as dangerous for decades and virtually nothing has been done about it by regulatory bodies like the Food and Drug Administration.

Although the FDA first started looking into triclosan and triclocarbon more than 30 years ago, and in 1978 proposed a ruling that both be banned from soaps, no final ruling on the matter was ever made. Now, 32 years later, it is still in the ‘proposed’ stage.

In the meantime, studies have shown that 75 percent of Americans over the age of six now have triclosan residues in their body.

To make matters worse, it has been scientifically determined that products containing triclosan and triclocarbon aren’t any more effective at fighting germs than regular soap and water.

So, we’re being poisoned for nothing – the chemical has been found in blood, urine and even breast milk.

To remedy this situation, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) last month filed suit against the FDA for failing to issue a final ruling that would regulate the use of triclosan and triclocarbon.

Read the full story, Lawsuit Seeks Final Rule on ‘Antibacterial’ Chemicals After 32-Year Delay, on non-toxickids.net.

It’s taken years to even put a dent in the laws regulating the chemicals used in crib mattresses, and the progress so far has been limited to the ban of just a few types of phthalates, also endocrine disruptors. Let’s hope the NRDC lawsuit motivates the FDA to take further action on triclosan and triclocarbon.

How careful do you have to be about germs with your children? You have to remember that Pasteur lived in an era where sanitation wasn’t what it is today: Most people bathed once a week, at most, and the whole family bathed in the same tub. Dad first, then mom, then the kids – all in the same water. Also, Pasteur was literally trying to convince doctors that it might be a good idea to wash their hands before they plunged them into someone’s open wound.

Today, we’re in much better shape. Almost all of us have bathrooms, bathtubs, soap and clean water. Studies show that’s really all we need – as long as we use them and take normal precautions.

Thanks to companies that make organic and natural personal care and cleaning products, we also have many non-toxic choices available for killing germs.

To keep your kids safe – from both toxic chemicals and germs – check ingredients lists for your personal care and cleaning products on labels and websites, switch to brands that don’t contain harmful chemicals, and make judicious use of the products that are available to keep your home and body clean.