Posts Tagged ‘toxic chemicals’

Creating a Non-Toxic Nursery

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011


creating a non-toxic nurseryWhen you’re going to have a baby, your major concerns are their health and safety. You get a solid crib, you research car seats, walkers, swings, and so on. You make sure those products are the best you can get and won’t harm the baby in any way. But there’s another aspect of a baby’s health and safety that many parents don’t think about – the toxicity of the materials in their nursery.

Toxic chemicals have now been linked to everything from learning disorders and autism to cancer and infertility. Taking steps to create a non-toxic nursery now could have wide-reaching, long-term and even life-changing benefits.

So, what do you do to ensure your nursery is non-toxic? Here are the basics:

§ Start with the crib mattress. Your baby will spend 12 to 18 hours a day on it. You don’t want your baby breathing the potentially toxic chemical fumes that may off-gas from most crib mattresses for 12 to 18 hours a day for the next year or two.

§ Next, ensure your baby’s clothes are made with untreated cotton or other natural materials free of chemicals and dyes. Organic is best – even though organic cotton, for example, doesn’t have any pesticide residue in it by the time it becomes fabric, there are still other potentially dangerous chemicals that could be used to make the fabric and clothes. Organic products should be free of those other chemicals as well. At the very least, go for ‘untreated.’

§ You also want toys that don’t contain vinyl and other harmful plastics, same with bottles and nipples. Here’s what Debra Lynn Dadd, the Queen of Green, has to say about children’s toys: “Most toys sold in major toy stores are made from plastics. Plastic is a major contributor to indoor air pollution, and a roomful of new toys can easily envelop your child in a toxic cloud. Remember that synthetic fibers are plastics, too, so evaluate stuffed animals carefully. While you might not find much that is natural in a toy store, there are many natural cloth and wood toys on the Internet. Many are designed to stimulate baby’s imagination and help them learn skills as well as provide amusement.”

§ The furniture in the baby’s room is another concern – no plywood or other types of building materials containing toxic glues. Instead, choose solid wood, natural finishes. While these more natural products will be more expensive, it is an excellent investment in your child’s well being. There are stores that specialize in this kind of product, you can buy unfinished furniture and finish yourself with non-toxic finishes, and can also order them on the Internet.

§ Repainting a room to turn it into the nursery? Watch out for toxic oil-based or water-based latex paint. Instead, get the low- or no-VOC varieties, now available at almost any store that sells paint. Don’t paint the room yourself if you are pregnant. Scraping or sanding walls may expose you to lead dust and toxic chemicals, which can be very dangerous to your baby. Ask your husband, family member of a friend to do the painting. Painting should be done at least a month before the baby arrives in the house; you don’t want to be painting with a newborn in the house.

§ Flooring and floor coverings can also be toxic. Most carpeting and carpets, for example, are made with synthetics AND treated with other chemicals. Some – not all – new carpeting is toxic. It’s probably best to just go with existing flooring rather than installing something new. Just clean it very well. If you have to put down new flooring, Debra Lynn Dadd suggests a hard, natural linoleum. It provides a solid, durable, colorful, attractive surface that is easy to clean.

§ Of course, any cleaning products and deodorizers should also be natural and non-toxic. No synthetic fragrances. If the label on the bottle says ‘fragrance’, it’s synthetic, and toxic. Essential oils used as fragrance are okay.

If there are questions about whether or not a product is safe, Debra Lynn Dadd suggest you use a natural tool – your nose. “If you can smell it, it probably contains something toxic you don’t want your baby to breathe (with the exception, of course, of natural fragrances). So rely on your own senses–if it bothers you, it will bother your baby, so don’t put it in the nursery.”

Your little bundle of joy is the most precious package you will ever hold in your arms. If you protect your baby from harmful chemicals, you’ll be taking great strides towards ensuring your child is healthy, happy, and has a good start in life.

New Study Finds Link Between SIDS and Alcohol Consumption

Thursday, December 30th, 2010


One more way to keep your baby safe.

Every parent is concerned about SIDS. Although there are many theories about it, and some feel they’ve narrowed down possible causes, it is still the # 1 cause of death in children between the ages of one month and one year. New research has now linked SIDS to parents or caregivers drinking alcohol. It may not be the sole cause of SIDS, but it might enable you to make changes that could keep your baby safe.


The study, conducted by University of California sociologist, David Phillips, reviewed 129,090 SIDS cases that occurred between 1973 to 2006.

The findings showed that SIDS deaths increased at times also known for increased alcohol consumption. For example, SIDS deaths spiked by 33% on New Year’s Day. Researchers also discovered that SIDS deaths were higher on weekends and on the fourth of July.

This lines up with other statistics on SIDS: Babies of mothers who drink are more than twice as likely to die of SIDS.

One doctor commenting on the study said, “”Although the study alerts us to considering the increase in SIDS at this time of the year (meaning New Year’s), it concerns me because it does not have evidence to suggest a cause or action to prevent this increase.”

Actually, the ‘action to prevent this increase’ is pretty clear. Don’t drink alcohol AND take care of babies. Pretty simple.

Many other factors are suspected of contributing to SIDS:

Babies suffocating in extra quilts, blankets, pillows, very soft mattresses, or by sleeping on their stomach. Recommendations are to put the baby to sleep in his or her back with no extra or heavy blankets, toys, etc., and ensure they can’t roll over.;

Babies overheating if they’re over-dressed or in a room where the temperature is too high. We have a tendency to bundle babies a little too much and have their bedrooms very warm. Most doctors recommend that if you are too hot or too cold in a room, your baby probably is, too. Don’t use extra blankets or clothing; if the temperature’s good for you (unless you are particularly sensitive), then it’s probably fine for baby;

Some experts think breathing fumes coming from the chemicals in baby crib mattresses. Naturepedic crib mattresses have been independently tested to ensure the air around them is safe for baby.;

And others are still being researched.

If parents took care of all of the known or suspected risk factors, would SIDS be over? No one really knows. But we do know that we can lower our baby’s chances of SIDS by addressing the things in the above list. And now, thanks to this new study, we know that drinking alcohol and caring for babies do not mix. Abstinence may be the best policy for parents and caregivers of young children.

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.

How the Chemicals in Your Life Are Affecting Your Unborn Children

Sunday, May 30th, 2010


eliminate toxic chemicals if you're pregnantIf you’ve been reading our blog, or keeping up with news items (including a piece on 60 Minutes that aired just a week ago), you will know that many of the items in our everyday lives contain potentially harmful chemicals. This is even more of a problem for kids than adults, because kids’ bodies are still developing. But the problem starts long before the kids are born. In fact, it’s immediately after conception. Check out this resource that shows you exactly when and in what part of the body chemicals affect your unborn child.

The resource is a chart on the website of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX). TEDX is a non-profit organization that studies the effects of low-dose exposure to endocrine disruptors, chemicals that effect fetal development and human health. These chemicals include, but are not limited to, bisphenol A (BPA), dioxin, and phthalates.

The chart is called Critical Windows of Development. It lists the various systems, organs and so on within the body and shows the stages of development during each weeks and trimesters in the womb. On the upper right of the chart, it shows checkboxes for ‘All Chemicals’, ‘Bisphenol A’, ‘Dioxin’, and ‘Phthalates’. Check ‘Phthalates’, for example, and red lines appear on the chart that show you which systems they affect, and at what period of pregnancy.

There are also little triangles on the chart that provide the names of studies that support the information.

One thing is clear: If we want to give our kids the best chance at being healthy as children and throughout their lives, expectant Mothers need to be free of these chemicals.

Pass this on to anyone you know who is pregnant, or may be in the future, so they can start doing something about it now.

What do they do about it? Eliminate the chemicals from their lives as much as possible. Many of our blog posts show you how to do that, and Debra Lynn Dadd’s book Home Safe Home has a wealth of information on what chemicals are in what products and suggestions on healthy alternatives. But, basically, just go organic, go toxin-free.

And once your baby is born, make sure you continue your toxic-free life. Get the baby a safe crib and baby crib mattress, made with non-toxic materials, swaddle them in organic cotton, feed them organic food, get them glass baby bottles and diapers and toys that are not made of harmful plastics or other potentially harmful chemicals.

This Earth Day Celebrates a Major Accomplishment

Saturday, April 24th, 2010


Earth Day was officially on 22 April, but in many communities and countries around the world it’s celebrated for the entire week or month. Earth Day was founded 40 years ago by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. His goal was to create a grassroots movement that would show the government just how concerned Americans were about the environment and get laws enacted that would enforce protection of the earth and its inhabitants – us.

By the end of that year, in December 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency opened its doors. A very good start.

Since that time, there have been many years when there has been little to celebrate. Although there has been continual progress, including some milestones, there have also been pretty serious setbacks. For example, of the 80,000 chemicals that have been produced and used in the U.S. since the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted 34 years ago, only 200 have been tested by the EPA, and only five have been regulated.

But in the last year, the EPA has undergone some equally serious reform. Finally, the agency is really buckling down on toxic chemicals, both in the environment and in consumer goods.

There is special attention on children, as it should be. Children are most susceptible to toxic chemicals because their bodies are still growing. In the not too distant future, it is our children and grandchildren, the little ones asleep in their cribs right now, who will lead the way in politics, as teachers, as firefighters, artists, business owners and so on, and so on.

To do their jobs well, to achieve their goals and have a satisfying, happy and productive life, they need to be healthy.

At Naturepedic, we celebrate Earth Day every day. We give children a healthy start in life by manufacturing our award-winning organic baby crib mattresses that are certified by GREENGUARD and enjoy the unique distinction of being the only crib mattress recommended by Healthy Child Healthy World.

Do you have a Naturepedic mattress for your infant or toddler? If not, you might want to celebrate Earth Day/Week/Month by checking them out at http://www.Naturepedic.com.

You can also celebrate Earth Day by working on creating a personal environment that is more chemical-free. It really doesn’t take much to get a good start. Read Going Green in 2010 – A Few Simple Things With A Big Impact for some helpful hints that make a real difference.

Start now, and next year your family will also have even more to celebrate on Earth Day!

New Safe Chemicals Act Shifts Accountability and Burden of Proof to Industry

Sunday, April 18th, 2010


Many people have complained about needing a degree in chemistry to understand which products are safe and which are not. New Safe Chemicals Act may enable the protection we need.

In February we wrote a blog about The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act, a new health report from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families. See Toxic Chemicals Are Putting Your Children at Risk. The tireless efforts of many people have finally paid off – landmark legislation that completely overhauls the broken system used by government to protect us from toxic chemicals has been introduced in Congress.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Congressmen Bobby Rush (D-IL) and
Henry Waxman (D-CA) are the authors of the new Safe Chemicals Act, formerly known as the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act.

Here are some of the highlights to give you an idea of what the new law would do:

– (Finally) empower the EPA to regulate toxic chemicals, and act quickly when necessary.

– Ensure the EPA is provided with sufficient information to evaluate the safety of a chemical.

– Establish new research programs to help us understand the risk toxic industrial chemicals pose to children, ourselves, and the environment.

– Force industry to prove their products are safe, both those already on the market and those they introduce in the future. Formerly, the burden of proof was the responsibility of the EPA, which didn’t have the power, information or funding needed to fulfill the obligation.

– Provide the public with transparent and adequate information to make their own judgments and decisions.

– and more.

The Safe Chemicals Act will “breathe new life into a long-dead statute by empowering EPA to get tough on toxic chemicals,” said Senator Lautenberg.

And that’s exactly what we need to protect ourselves, our children, and our environment.

If you would like to read the bill in its entirety, it’s available here.

Stay tuned for updates!

More Mainstream Media Coverage Brings the Dangers of Toxics to the Forefront

Sunday, April 11th, 2010


The truth about the effects of toxic chemicals in our everyday lives is getting more mainstream media attention now than ever. Just last week, Time magazine published a list of ten common household toxins that ‘mounting evidence’ shows may be linked to health problems.

Here’s the list, along with where these chemicals are commonly found:

1. Bisphenol A (BPA) – food wrap, water bottles and other plastics
2. Oxybenzone – moisturizers, sunscreens, lip balm
3. Flouride – toothpaste, tap water
4. Parabens – moisturizers, hair care and shaving products
5. Phthalates – skin care treatment products, crib mattresses, toys, shower curtains, just about everything made with pliable PVC/vinyl
6. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) – chewing gum, snack foods, diaper creams
7. Perflouroctanoic Acid – tap water, teflon and non-stick pots and pans
8. Perchlorate – drinking water, soil
9. Decabromodiphenyl Ether (DECA) – flame retardant in electronics, furniture, carpets
10. Asbestos – insulation, drywall, artificial fireplace logs, toys

The Time article doesn’t give a lot of information on each chemical and, of course, the actual list of toxic chemicals commonly found is in the thousands. But that’s not the point.

The important thing is that they are writing about it – more people are being educated, the powers that be will be more motivated to bring the issue to the top of their agenda, change will occur at a more accelerated rate, and we’ll all be living healthier lives.

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.

3 Ways to Eliminate Toxins in Your Baby’s Nursery

Monday, October 19th, 2009


yellow nurseryMany people are becoming aware of the dangers of toxic chemicals, which is one reason why Naturepedic crib mattresses are so popular. But there’s so much information out there, it’s sometimes hard to know how to get started on your quest to eliminate toxins from your baby’s nursery. Here are a few changes that will give you a good start.

Those few basic will give your baby a healthy environment, and a healthy start in life.

p.s. see more about the lovely nursery in the photo at Snugabub.

An Organic Crib Mattress is Great – But What About the Nursery Walls and Floors

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009


Although there’s no question that it’s better for everyone if our homes and the environment are completely free of toxic chemicals, it’s just not always possible. To resolve the issues across the globe, it’s going to take a big team – industry, government and our concerned friends everywhere on the planet. But we don’t need anyone’s help to take care of our child’s nursery or, for that matter, our own home.

How do we do that? In addition to using non-toxic products whenever possible – starting with an organic crib mattress and going straight through to cleaning products – you might also consider ridding the walls, floors, carpeting and so on of any residual off-gasing potential.

A step by step process for doing this is in a book called Home Safe Home, written by Debra Lynn Dadd, green maven extraordinaire. I recently had the good fortune to get Ms. Dadd’s permission to re-print the process in its entirety. The section is called Curing a Sick House. See below. And, by the way, I’d love to hear anyone’s feedback after they’ve tried this out.

Curing a Sick House

There are many building materials that have some toxicity when being applied, but cure to a nontoxic finish. This is because the toxic part is the solvent used to keep the material pliable (as in the case of caulks, paints, and other finishes) or that residual chemicals used in manufacturing have not completely dissipated (such as adhesives used to hold together wood floor tiles). Once these chemicals outgas, however, the resulting product is nontoxic.

If you don’t have to install or apply these products yourself, once cured they can be safe for you and your family to live with (though in the larger scheme of things, we should also be considering toxic exposures to the people we hire and the pollutants released into the environment.)

To speed up the curing process, you can do what is commonly called a “bake-out.” In my experience, it has been a cure-all for many toxic homes, as it bakes off the volatile gasses that are present in materials and finishes and cures the materials into an inert form.

The procedure I recommend is this:

1. Close all doors and windows.
2. Remove people, pets, and plants.
3. Turn up the central heat as far as it will go (or use space heaters).
4. At the end of each twenty-four-hour period, open the doors and windows and air your home out completely. Use a fan if necessary.
5. Sniff around to check for odors. Determine if they are gone, or if you need another day of baking.

Baking can take from one to five days. I’ve never needed to do it longer than five days.”

Gloria
The Naturepedic Blog Maven