Products designed to keep babies safe could silently be harming them. A new study found toxic flame retardant chemicals in the majority of baby products tested including car seats and baby carriers. Some of the chemicals identified are classified as probable carcinogens.
The study focused on foam products used in products like car seats, carriers, nursing pillows and diaper changing pads. Scientists tested 101 children’s products and found toxic or untested flame retardants in 80 percent of them. One third of the products contained a chemical called chlorinated tris, which was removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970’s because of cancer concerns. The chemical was never banned but the Consumer Product Safety Commission says that it may pose significant health risk to consumers.
The findings published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal raise concerns about the health risks to infants and young children because they are most vulnerable to the toxic effects of chemicals. Babies also have a lot of contact with the products that contain the chemicals. The research does not determine if the children absorbed the chemicals from the products but the study suggests infants who use the products have higher exposure to the chemicals than the government recommends.
The Green Science Policy Institute says the chemicals can leak from the products into house dust which is ingested by people and pets. The Institute says manufacturers put flame retardant chemicals in products and furniture to meet unique and strict fire safety standards in California for foam in some juvenile products and upholstered furniture. Last year, California exempted strollers, nursing pillows and baby carriers from the flammability standards.
The chemicals found in this study are currently not regulated under the federal chemicals policy, the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act.The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 was introduced last month in Congress. It would overhaul current federal policies and ensure that toxic chemicals are phased out and replaced with safer alternatives. The proposed legislation designates chemicals that persist in the environment and people’s blood tissue as “Priority 1” chemicals. Flame retardants aren’t the only chemicals commonly found in the home.
If you are concerned about the chemicals your child is exposed to in the home, here are my top 5 natural alternatives to the toxic chemicals your kids may come in contact with every day.
This chemical is found in all those antibacterial hand soaps, gels, and body washes. Triclosan is believed to interfere with thyroid function. It is also has been linked to the creation of ‘superbugs’ or bacteria which is resistant to antibiotics.
Alternative? Plain soap and water. The FDA’s bottom line? They say,”…the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.”
2. Flame Retardants
Chemicals found in flame retardants are showing up in higher and higher levels in breast milk and even in the blubber of Arctic whales. They’re linked to serious health issues such as delayed brain development, reproductive problems, and cancer. Flame retardant chemicals are found in children’s clothing and even their mattresses.
Alternative? Organic cotton or natural latex. Instead of baby clothes made with flame retardants, opt for organic cotton clothing. These were made with cotton grown without pesticides or insecticides. Also, choosing a crib or child’s mattress made from either organic cotton or natural latex is your safest option.
The EPA warns that most pesticides are especially dangerous to children because they block the absorption of nutrients and can even cause permanent biological changes. Recent studies have also linked pesticide exposure to childhood leukemia and birth defects.
Alternative? Vinegar, Borax, or Diatomaceous Earth. Use natural products like these to get rid of pests inside and outside your home. Spraying vinegar around doors, windows, and counter tops will keep ants away. Borax will kill roaches. And diatomaceous earth can kill all sorts of bugs, including bed bugs. Be careful around children and pets with borax and diatomaceous earth. They are natural but can be poisonous if ingested.
4. Air Fresheners
Why mask bad smells with air polluting chemicals? Most popular air fresheners contain dangerous ingredients like formaldehyde. Many times, they will also contain VOCs – or volatile organic compounds – which can slowly emit toxic chemicals for years.
Alternative? Fresh air, baking soda, and soy candles. Opening windows and getting fresh air into your home can oftentimes alleviate odors. For tough and stubborn smells like in your garbage can, all-natural baking soda can work wonders. To bring sweeter scents into your home, use soy candles instead of petroleum-based ones.
5. Chemical Cleaners
There’s no point in cleaning your home only to leave a trail of pollution in your wake. Most of us don’t know we’re doing just that because the makers of popular household cleaners aren’t required to list all their ingredients on the label. These hidden ingredients can cause everything from asthma to reproductive problems.
Alternative? Natural cleaners. You can use all natural vinegar and baking soda to clean and disinfect just about every surface in your home. If you’d rather buy an eco-friendly cleaner look for those which are plant-based. And use chlorine-free bleach products which won’t hurt your lungs or the water supply when it goes down the drain.
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