Archive for the ‘toxic chemicals in kids’ products’ Category

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!

Fire Retardants Linked to Developmental Problems in Children, Study Says

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011


I can’t help but notice a real concern with the toxicity of fire retardants when I’m reading other’s blogs, articles, online consumer reviews and comments about crib mattresses and other children’s products. The concern is often focused on PBDEs, commonly used toxic flame retardant chemicals that are in just about everything. Should we be concerned? According to a unique study conducted by The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the answer is a very definite yes.

The researchers on this unique study analyzed the cord blood of 210 infants and then followed up for the next six years. The children were tested at 12, 24, 36 48 and 72 months for psychomotor development, mental development, performance IQ, verbal IQ and full-scale IQ.

The results showed that children with PBDEs in their cord blood scored significantly lower on the later tests. In fact, the higher the prenatal exposure to PBDEs, the lower the scores. Scores on some tests were as much at 10.9 points lower than the scores of children with less prenatal exposure.

PBDEs are widely used flame-retardant chemicals that are in everything from carpets, upholstery and drapery fabrics, children’s clothing, mattresses and furniture to appliances, insulation, building materials, computers and other electronic equipment.

How do PBDEs get into our system?

Because they are added to the products rather than chemically bound to them, they can be released into the air, lodge in dust, and anywhere else they happen to land, where they can be inhaled and even ingested.

PBDEs also don’t break down easily; once they’re in the body they tend to stay there. This also means they accumulate in the body with additional exposure and the levels just keep going up.

What can you do about it?

As the PDBEs in your home can be airborne, it’s important to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. But the most important step you can take is to phase out PBDEs in your own home. Instead, choose products that do not contain “PBDEs”, “brominated fire retardants” or “Deca.”

Many furniture manufacturers and stores, like Ikea, are conscious of the dangers of PBDEs and offer PBDE-free furniture.

For textiles – draperies, upholstered furniture, mattresses, and so on, look for fibers that are naturally fire retardant – organic cotton and wool are good examples. And always check with the manufacturer if there is no information on the label. All of our Naturepedic crib mattresses and other products are made with organic cotton and free of PBDEs and any other harmful chemicals, so that’s a good place to start in protecting your children.

If you’d like to read the full study, it’s available on the Environmental Health Perspectives website.

Anyone who is a potential father or mother should start getting rid of PBDEs and other harmful chemicals right now. Your child’s future depends on it.

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!

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!!

Does Non-Organic Cotton Contain Pesticide Residues?

Monday, December 13th, 2010


pesticide residueMany parents have questions about cotton. Is regular cotton okay, or should you use organic? The major difference is pesticides – organic cotton is grown without pesticides; regular cotton is grown with them. Are residues from those pesticides still in the cotton clothing, sheets and blankets you’re using for your baby?

This is an important question if you’re concerned about your child’s health. Pesticides have been linked to several diseases and conditions, including asthma, autism, learning disabilities, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and several types of cancer. In fact, the President’s Cancer Panel recommends that we eat organic food in order to avoid pesticide poisoning. Here’s a quote from the latest President’s Cancer Panel Report.

“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.”

But food is not our only exposure to pesticides. As with other chemicals, residue can also become airborne. And when they do, they are in the air our babies breathe.

More pesticides are used on cotton crops than any other crop in the world – a full 25% of all pesticides used are used on cotton crops.

The good news is that by the time those cotton crops become fabric, the pesticides are gone. However, according to Debra Lynn Dadd, Queen of Green and author of Home Safe Home, there are other problems with cotton, including the cotton batting sometimes used in crib mattresses:

“Cotton batting does contain pesticide residues, if it is not organic, as it is not as processed as cotton fabric. So it is imperative to buy organic cotton batting, as in a mattress or pillow.”

Finishes and dyes on some cotton fabrics can also be a problem:

“The problem with cotton fabric is the finishes, such as a permanent press finish, which releases formaldehyde. Most fabrics of any kind have a “sizing” applied, which washes out in the first wash. Five washes is plenty to remove sizing, but no amount of washing removes permanent press. Dyes are also not a concern if they are “colorfast,” that is, they don’t bleed when you wash them.”

According to Ms. Dadd, there are also environmental reasons to use organic cotton:

“The reason to buy organic cotton is that conventionally-grown cotton uses a huge amount of the most toxic chemicals, which get into our air and water and soil, and indirectly into our bodies.”

At Naturepedic, we use only organic cotton in our crib mattresses. So you know your baby is safe from pesticide residues and the residues of other chemicals that may be used on the crops or in processing.

As for your baby’s jammies, sheets, blankets and other goodies, regular cotton is probably fine. But do find out about the dyes used and treatments or finishes such as permanent press. If it looks like the chemicals used there might not be safe, go with organic.

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.

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!