Protect your child from the harmful chemicals in your home

October 22, 2007 Katja Presnal

Protect your child from the harmful chemicals in your home

Do not trust any product to be safe for your child, just because you see it in a respected chain store, or it is manufactured by a large American household-name company. Chemicals found in common household products can contribute to developmental and behavioral disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and mental retardation, even autism, allergies and cancer. Parents of Rowan and Mikaela in Oakland got a wake up call a few years ago, when the family was asked to attend a voluntary blood testing to measure the industrial chemicals in their bodies. The family agreed, they didn’t have any reason to believe that there could be something wrong. After all, the family did not own a TV and mainly ate organic food and were environmentally concious. The test results showed that even 18-months-old Rowan had extremely high levels of chemicals in his body. Rowan is now a healthy 5-year-old, but the chemicals found in his body could cause thyroid dysfunction or other risks to health. The parents, Michelle Hammond and Jeremiah Holland, set out to educate themselves and others about the harmful chemicals found in common household products. Inspired by this family and an article on CNN, I did some digging up. The topic is so big, that I can barely scratch the surface here, and would like you to read this, and then investigate more. HARMFUL CHEMICALS IN FIRE RETARDANTS AND PLASTIC There were several types of chemicals found in the Hammond-Holland children, but the two main classes are called phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers -PBDEs. Phthalates are chemicals used as a plasticizers, simply said, it is the stuff that makes plastic softer and more flexible. Like in toys, kitchen utensils, children’s plastic dinner ware, even in personal care products like shampoo and cosmetics. The worst type of phthalates are used most commonly in nail polish remover, fishing lures and in “jelly rubber” sex toys. I probably wouldn’t have mentioned the sex toys here, but what I find really disturbing here is the fact that the sex toys having high amounts of phthalates have warning labels due increased health-risk. (Source) Children’s toys do not have warning labels of phthalates. How come? There is no law that requires it. The phthalates have been linked to the health problems in liver, the kidneys, the lungs, and the developing testes, as well as developing allergies in children and infertility in men. PBDEs are the flame retardant chemicals used in many common products, like furniture, fabrics, electronics – and very common in children’s flame retardant sleepware and mattresses. The study results show that PBDEs can be harmful for liver, thyroid and cause neurodevelopmental health issues, including to learning and memory. This stuff is everywhere – and it doesn’t just stay in the products, it bleeds out and gets in your blood system, just by you sitting on the couch. How they found out about this? The chemical levels in the breastmilk had increased drastically in the last couple of years. There are several types of PBDEs and some of them have alreay been banned in Europe. There are still several types of bad PBDEs used in the products made in the United States. OTHER CHEMICALS Seems like where ever you look, there are harmful chemicals looming. Pesticides used in farming are toxic and can cause developmental defects. Mercury-containing preservatives used in some vaccines, could cause autism. Food coloring can cause cancer, tumors, allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children. YOUR CHILD IS AT RISK “Rates of asthma, childhood cancers, birth defects and developmental disorders have exponentially increased, and it can’t be explained by changes in the human genome. So what has changed? All the chemicals we’re being exposed to.” says Dr. Leo Trasande, assistant director of the Center for Children’s Health and the Environment at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City for CNN. The environment where children grow has changed – the products surrounding children have changed. WHAT WE CAN DO I am not an expert here, and I again would like to remind all parents to investigate things of your own. Read the labels, know what you are buying, know how and where products are manufactured. We avoid fire retardant clothing and bedding for children. I have never before known for sure that they are harmful, but just always had a gut feeling. Using natural fibers in children’s bedding (and clothing) is healthier, more comfortable and I have never heard of a static fire due cotton fabrics. Trying to avoid plastic containers for food might be a good idea. The babies’ plastic teething toys make me really nervous too. The easiest part is to eliminate the use of household chemicals in the cleaning detergants etc. There are excellent cleaning products, which will not harm the environment nor your children. Avoid food with food coloring and preservatives. Yeah, right, like that was easy. The bottom line – nobody really comes and tells you if some products are bad for you. You will have to find it out yourself. The health of the people living in our society is not the main concern of our government. There are no laws protecting us from the risks the common household products contribute. It takes years to make new laws to ban some of these harmful chemicals, and the government has more symphaty for the big corporations, which manufacture products, than the average American family exposed to the risks they don’t even know exist. I find it very scary, that many known harmful chemicals are still used in children’s products in the US today, even though they have been illegal for example in Europe for years. If you find great links concerning the issue, please leave them for the comment section and share yoru resources. I have listed here a few links where you can find more information. Also, here is a list by Seattle PI of companies who do not use PBDEs in their products: – IKEA – Washington-made mattresses since mid-2005 – Canon – Dell Computers – Ericsson – Hewlett Packard – Matsushita Kotobuki Electronics Industries/Panasonic – NEC – Sony – Xerox READ MORE, BE INFORMED Toxic Chemicals in Toys pdf-file by a Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition. Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition – read about Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products. The Green Guide – Learning Hazards by P.W. McRandle, read more about chemicals affecting children. CNN – Tests reveal high chemical levels in kids’ bodies By Jordana Miller. Cruncy Domestic Goddess Chew on this by Cruncy Domestic Goddess – read about food colors and other toxic items in food, especially children’s food. Seattle pi -PBDEs: They are everywhere, they accumulate and they spread By Lisa Stiffeler Adventures in Babywearing – Stirring The Pot: What I Want Every Parent To Know by Stephanie Precourt, read about vaccines. Be smart about the toy recalls – the China is not to blame for the recent toy recalls, Mattel is.

Katja Presnal

Katja Presnal shows how to live Nordic inspired life to the fullest and plan your dream life. Katja owns Presnal5 strategic marketing intelligence agency and wants to help marketing professionals to combine a dream career and dream life via freelance work. Katja is an award-winning marketing strategist, and a well-known speaker. Katja has lived in five different countries, and seven states in the USA. Her three children were all born in different countries within three years. When not working or jet-setting the world, Katja is at home cooking big family dinners. She has been featured in NY Times, Glamour, Redbook, Fodor's, Forbes and Woman's Day magazines among many other national and international publications and written for MTV3 and Lifetime TV networks.

Comments (7)

  1. deanna

    Just read your blog, I am always trying to catch up but how timely. Yesterday as I lay miserable in bed with horrible stomach flu I got involved with a show on a local PBS station. I have parents who are adamant about avoiding harmful toxins, chemicals, and general health so I listen when someone talks about these issues. The lady speaking was Brenda Watson. She had a lot of great information about this subject as well as what we can do to help ourselves and our families (detox regularly, organic food, better water…not tap…and how to avoid many of the things you talk about). So much is in our control and frankly the government is not our friend in this case. Most that are appointed to the positions over these issues are actually funded by the companies that produce the harmful chemicals and toxins. I was amazed to hear that you can absorb as many toxins in a 10 minute shower as you can from drinking tap water in one day. I am ready to find out more. I have enough health issues and allergies as it is and my dad has always been convinced there are things I can avoid or add to my diet to help that. We buy organic (but not always, and should)and plan to follow his lead on adding fresh milled flax seed on everything (good fiber and a detoxifier). But, that is just one step. There are many things we can do and I plan to get her book to learn more. While we could never avoid every harmful thing in the enviroment (we breath it in our air as well) we can make better choices and arm our bodies to process out the harmful things we do take in.

  2. Connie

    Great info… I never see pacifiers on this list. Has anyone seen them on the list of dangerous plastics?

  3. Crunchy Domestic Goddess

    linked up to you in a post i did last night. thanks again for all of this info, katja.

  4. Alicia

    Wow! What great info on the serious dangers we’re all facing with toxic plastics. Thank you for putting together such an excellent resource for us concerned parents.

  5. Crunchy Domestic Goddess

    great information here, katja. i just read this article yesterday and was thinking about blogging about it myself. perhaps i’ll just send folks your way instead since you seem to have it all covered. thanks for being on top of these important issues. :)

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