Posts Tagged ‘asthma’

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!

Toxic Chemicals Are Putting Your Children at Risk

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Check out the startling details in a new health report from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.

Read The Health Case for Reforming The Toxic Substances Control Act

Read The Health Case for Reforming The Toxic Substances Control Act

The results of a compilation and analysis of 30 years of environment studies, recently published as a health report from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, revealed startling details about the increase in disease in the U.S. over the last 35 years, and the link to toxic chemicals.

Here are some of the statistics from the report:

  • Leukemia, brain cancer, and other childhood cancers, have increased by more than 20% since 1975.
  • Breast cancer went up by 40% between 1973 and 1998 and, while breast cancer rates have declined since 2003, a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is now one in eight, up from one in ten in 1973.
  • The incidence of asthma doubled between 1980 and 1995 and has stayed at the elevated rate.
  • Difficulty in conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy affected 40% more women in 2002 than in 1982. For woman aged 18 – 25, the incidence of reported difficulty has almost doubled.
  • The birth defect resulting in undescended testes increased 200% between 1970 and 1993.
  • Diagnosed autism has increased more than 10 times in the last 15 years.

According to the report, there is a growing consensus that chemicals are playing a role in the incidence and prevalence of these diseases.

The birth defect resulting in undescended testes, for example, as well as other hormonal problems with young boys, could be the result of exposure to phthalates – the plasticizer chemicals used to soften PVC/Vinyl so it can be used as a waterproof covering in crib mattresses – which is one of the reasons three phthalates were banned in baby mattresses and other kids products. One study even found that the school-age boys of women who tested positive for phthalates in their urine while pregnant played in ways that were not typical of young boys – no trucks, rough housing, and so on.

What’s being done about the chemical problem?

Although the EPA has admitted they’ve failed to protect the public from the dangers of toxic chemicals, and is currently making changes, the track record is abysmal: Since the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted 34 years ago, only 200 of the 80,000 chemicals that have since been produced and used in the U.S. have been tested by the EPA, and only five have been regulated.

Health care reform is currently the subject of intense controversy. But real reform will come when we start getting rid of the chemicals suspected of exacerbating, if not causing, illness.

Chemical policy reform would also free up a lot of health care dollars: If reducing exposure to chemicals resulted in healthier people, it would only take one tenth of one percent in health savings to free up $5 billion every year.

Read more details in the report, The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Safer Chemicals Healthy Families also has a campaign to help eliminate toxic chemicals. There are many facets to their campaign, including Parents for Non-Toxic Alternatives and several others directly concerned with toxic chemicals and the relationship to child safety. Check them out, you may want to become involved.

If you’re concerned about your child’s safety and want to do something about it right now, consider getting a Naturepedic toddler or crib mattress, along with our safe child and baby bedding and pillows. Also, check out the book Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd for thousands of safe alternatives for just about every chemical in your household.

Does Your Baby’s Crib Mattress Have Dust-mites?

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

High levels of dust-mite allergens are present in 50% of American homes – they cause several health problems, and they love to hide in your mattresses.

dustmites2A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Does Mattress Cleaning Treat Dust-Mite Allergies?, prompted this blog post about dust-mites. They really are a big problem – at least half the homes in America contain enough dust-mite allergens to cause health problems. How do you get rid of those allergens? The answer to the question in the headline “Does Mattress Cleaning Treat Dust-mite Allergies” appears to be ‘no.’ And I’ll explain why. But, first, a little info about dust-mites.

Dust-mites are microscopic arachnids (same family as spiders) that live in dust. They hide in dark places like upholstered furniture, dust bunnies under couches and beds, in blankets, sheets, stuffed toys, mattresses – even your baby’s crib mattress.

Although they do bite, they generally they feed off dead skin cells and hair. However, their waste is usually the source of allergic reactions. In fact, up to 30% of people in the U.S. are allergic to this waste and even those who are not allergic can develop a sensitivity if there’s enough of the allergen in the environment. A recent study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that half the homes in the U.S. have enough of these allergens to trigger a sensitivity – which can have the same symptoms as an actual allergy.

What are the symptoms?

  • Asthma
  • Hay fever
  • Eczema
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Persistent stuffy nose or ears
  • Repeated sneezing upon awakening
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose

Generally, the symptoms are worse at night and when you first wake up. And they improve when you’re out of the house.

There are various services available that clean mattresses to remove dust-mites. It costs about $50 for a twin mattress, more for larger sizes. One such service (using ultraviolet light) was tested and found to reduce the mites by 98%.

That statistic sounds good, but it’s only one test and, worse, the mites build up to their previous levels within a month, according to Peyton Eggleston, a pediatric allergist and professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital in Baltimore. At that rate, the average household (cleaning all their mattresses) would have to spend about $150 to $200 a month to get their mattresses cleaned – which is hard to fit into the average budget.

So, what are your other alternatives? For your baby, get a Naturepedic crib mattress with a waterproof covering made with food-grade polyethylene. Dust-mites cannot penetrate this covering, so all you have to do is wipe down the surface.

For your own mattresses, and for bigger kids, get an organic waterproof mattress pad or airflow sheet. These will provide dust-mite protection for the top of the mattress which is where the majority of the problem lies.

There’s nothing worse than sick kids – especially babies. Their under-developed immune systems need all the help they can get. Handle the dust-mite problem, and that will be one less thing you have to worry about.