Posts Tagged ‘formaldehyde’

Safe Alternatives for Cribs and Other Baby Furniture

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010


toxic chemicals in plywoodIf you’re concerned about the materials used in your child’s crib mattress, you should also have a very close look at the toxic chemical content of cribs, dressers, changing tables, and even outdoor furniture and decking. Fortunately, there are easy alternatives to using these chemicals, including building materials that may have fallen under your radar.

What toxic chemicals do you have to worry about in furniture? One of the primary offenders is formaldehyde.

Plywoods and particleboard, which are often included in furniture even if they don’t comprise the entire structure, are glued together with formaldehyde-based resins or urea-formaldehyde (UF) glue.

Formaldehyde, which off-gasses for years into the air you and your children breath, has been classified by the EPA as a probable carcinogen.

Healthy Child Healthy World recently published a list of alternatives:

Certified-sustainable hardwood cabinets and furniture utilizing traditional joinery and stainless steel drawer bottoms, salvaged wood, UF-free fiberboard, or baked-enamel metal, which emit less chemical vapor into the air. Or, reject permanent cabinetry altogether, and use freestanding hardwood tables, shelves and hooks.

Formaldehyde-free medium density fiberboard (MDF) in place of plywood for outdoor areas. Fiberboard can be made from recycled wood, paper or plant fiber waste, which is compressed and molded into boards without adhesives.

Look for an “exterior glue” stamp on regular plywood, which means it contains phenol formaldehyde (PF) resin, which off-gasses at a much slower rate than UF glues.

If particleboard can’t be avoided, finish with a low-toxicity sealant (latex paint won’t seal in vapors).

With the demand for toxic-chemical-free homes, and in the environment, these materials are becoming more available even in regular stores – especially the wood. If you’re having trouble finding a sealant, Debra Lynn Dadd, the Queen of Green, recommends Safe Seal made by AFM Safecoat. Also, for an excellent in-depth discussion with Debra and her readers about non-toxic baby cribs and where to get them, check Non-Toxic Baby Cribs.

Just think how wonderful it would be to not have to worry about you and the kids breathing formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals! You can rest easy.

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.

Is Your Baby Bedding Toxic?

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010


shar peiDecades ago, clothing, linens and other textiles were anything but easy-care. The fabrics were heavy and cumbersome to clean, took forever to dry, and had more wrinkles than a Shar Pei. This kept housewives, which was just about every wife at the time, pretty busy.

When synthetic fibers came into the picture, American women sighed with relief. The clothes and linens were lighter, washed quickly, dried quickly, and wrinkles, if there were any, practically shook out. We’ve come to expect that – even with baby clothes, blankets and the bedding we use on crib mattresses.

However, over the years we’ve discovered more about the chemicals some of these synthetic fabrics actually have in and on them, and the blush is definitely fading from the easy-care chemical rose.

What chemicals can your baby be exposed to with crib bedding?

Labels like ‘crease-resistant,’ ‘crease-proof,’ ‘no iron,’ ‘wrinkle-resistant,’ ‘durable press,’ ‘easy-care’, ‘wrinkle-free’, ‘stain-resistant,’ ‘wash and wear,’ and ‘permanent press’ mean the fabrics are probably treated with formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde can cause a number of health conditions – burning and watery eyes, coughing, difficulty breathing, and allergic contact dermatitis where formaldehyde-containing fabrics come in contact with the skin.

According to the National Cancer Institute, formaldehyde is also human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance), and the Environmental Protection Agency agrees that’s probably the case.

Formaldehyde is just one of the chemicals of concern in baby bedding, but it’s enough.

What’s the solution? Although you can buy untreated 100% cotton products, it might be easier to get organic cotton. Organic cotton is becoming so popular you can even find linens and clothing in major department stores. Not all stores, and not many items, but you may be able to find them.

If not, you can shop at specialty stores or online. There are literally hundreds of online stores that sell organic cotton sheets – including for a toddler or crib mattress – as well as blankets, pillowcases, clothing, and so on. You can also find them at Naturepedic – we make organic cotton crib sheets and other bed linens as well as organic crib mattresses. Check them out.

So … what do you do about the wrinkles?

Some organic cotton items don’t wrinkle anywhere near as much as they did decades ago; it depends on the weave and a number of other factors. Our crib sheets, for example, look pretty good right out of the dryer. So, wrinkles might not be a problem.

Here are a few tips to keep wrinkles to a minimum, regardless of the fabric:

  • Add vinegar to the final rinse cycle of your wash. Simply fill the fabric softener reservoir with one cup of vinegar to help keep textiles soft.
  • Don’t let your laundry sit in the washing machine. Take it out as soon as it’s done, then shake things out and smooth them before putting them in the dryer.
  • Pack the dryer loosely; the tighter it’s packed, the more wrinkles you’ll get.
  • Take clothes out of the dryer as soon as the cycle is complete, immediately smooth them out, then fold or hang.
  • If you need to iron something, use a steam iron. A combination of heat and moisture is the best wrinkle-fighter.

True, this all takes a little longer that permanent press. But it’s worth it to protect the health of your baby, and yourself.