Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

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Top 10 Toxic Baby Products May 16, 2009

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 3:44 pm
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Overwhelmed by all the info?  Not sure which “non-toxic” items for baby are essential purchases?  Here’s my list of Top 10 Toxic Baby Products, in order of approximate danger.  Balance this priority list against your budget to determine what to buy for baby:

1.  Baby Mattresses:  for the crib, bassinet, cosleeper, etc.  avoid like the plague mattresses that are covered with vinyl, filled with polyurethane foam, and treated with chemical fire retardants.   Babies and toddlers spend 10-14 hours a day sleeping, inhaling air just inches away from these dangerous chemicals.  For more info see, What’s Wrong with Conventional Mattresses?  Organic mattresses are made with materials like cotton, wool and natural rubber.

2.  Waterproof Mattress Pads:  “Normal” mattress pads designed for babies utilize vinyl to provide waterproof protection against diaper leaks or accidents.  For the same reasons as above, these are definitely not safe.  A dense wool puddle pad can also provide waterproof protection, without the poisonous fumes. 

3.  Cheap Wooden Toys:  In general, choosing wooden toys over plastic ones is a win-win for the environment and for your child’s safety.  However, know your source.   Toys cheaply made (and often in China) often use lead-tainted paints.  Lead poisoning is so serious that it’s just not worth taking a single risk.  A responsible toy-maker has it’s paints tested for lead.  Testing is routine for European manufacturers and may become routine in the US starting in 2010.

4.  BPA-contaminated Bottles:  Baby bottles made with polycarbonate plastics (clear and hard) emit the toxin BPA.  While the seriousness of BPA exposure to young infants is debated in our country (Still Not Sure about BPA?), other countries, like Canada, have outlawed BPA-emitting plastics in children’s feeding products.  Nowadays, BPA-free baby bottles are easy to find and quite affordable.  Still, don’t assume it’s BPA-free.  Read the label.  Or, just choose glass – it’s definitely safer and more environmentally friendly.

5.  BPA-contaminated Sippy Cups:  Same as above.  Sippy cups are workhorses.  It makes sense to opt for stainless steel sippy cups, over BPA-free plastics since they wear well and minimize the use of any plastic.

6.  Soft Plastic Teethers:   It’s smart to avoid plastic in general, but any soft plastics – like those most baby teethersare made with – are likely to contain phthalates.  Phthalates are a class of chemicals that soften plastics.  They are hormone disruptors, like BPA.  Not something you want baby chewing on.  For more details see, Toxic Toy Alert – Phthalates.  Opt instead for cloth or wooden teethers.  If you must do plastic, check that the label claims its phthalate-free.

7.  Baby Washes and Lotions:   Phthalates come into play here too.  Most baby washes and lotions use artificial scents or “fragrances”.  Any artificial smell is typically packed with phthalates, ready to do their hormone-disrupting worst.  What’s more, these cosmetics are often packed with cancer-causing chemicals, even ones declared “unsuitable for use on infant skin”.  There is no adequate policing of the cosmetic industry.  You’ve got to become informed at www.CosmeticDatabase.com and/or rely on brands that are certified organic, free of chemical additives.  For a case study, see Johnson & Johnson products Removed from Shelves in China!

8.  Popular Diaper Creams:  Diaper creams are cosmetics too and likely to carry the same concerns as the above.  I list them separately because your loyalty to Desitin, Balmex, Butt Paste or the like may be so strong that you forget to evaluate it’s safey too!  Check your miracle cream’s toxicity rating at www.CosmeticDatabase.com.  Here are some case studies I’ve done: Desitin – Safe or Toxic? and My Cosmetic Purge.

9.  Pesticides in Baby Food:  Pesticides are poisons.  Their “safety” levels are based on exposure in adults, not in tiny baby bodies that eat far more produce than the average adult.  Buying organic baby food definitely adds up faster than conventionally grown baby food, but it’s worth it.  I can’t, as a parent, feel very good about serving up bug poison.  If your budget burst a few items earlier on this priority list, try to make baby food at home from organic produce.  It is a bit cheaper.  Or, for maximum savings, grow your own.

10. Disposable Diapers:  Not too well known is the fact that disposable diapers aren’t entirely “pure” no matter how white they’ve been bleached (and actually, bleach is part of the problem).  Disposable diapers contain chemicals that are known to cause skin irritations, bleeding, fever, infection, cancer, sterility, and even death if ingested. Read more about Health Risks with Disposable Diapers.  Of course, using cloth diapers is actually cheaper.  But, if cloth is not your style, safer options include Tushies and 7th Generation disposable diapers.

*Note:  It was difficult to order these dangers, but I realize that some kind of frame of reference is helpful when dealing with the realities of life (limited budget).  Because of the extremely well documented dangers of lead poisoning, I placed “Cheap Wooden Toys” above BPA issues.  In reality, we are still learning about the potential ramifications of BPA and phthalate exposure.

 

But What about My Tuna Sandwich? May 7, 2009

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Healthy Living,Pregnancy — Rachel @ 3:04 pm
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Let’s face it, when most of us eat fish… it’s tuna from a can.  Since eating DHA-rich fish is so important for our health – especially if we’re pregnant, nursing or feeding a young child – a cursory reading of my last post may send you to the cupboard for some tuna.

STOP!  Did you know that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) strongly recommends that pregnant or breastfeeding women and children under 5  “not eat albacore tuna at all, because a significant portion of albacore tuna has very high mercury levels.”  Basing their conclusions on the FDA’s own guidelines for what constitutes a safe amount of mercury, the EWG warns, “People eating this tuna will exceed safe exposure levels by a wide margin.”  And, what about light tuna?  We don’t know.  Light tuna contains less mercury, but no one (including the FDA) has determined what amount is safe for pregnant women.

You can get all the details at EWG’s Tuna Calculator.  The calculator will determine how much tuna you can safely eat, based on your weight, if you’re NOT pregnant, nursing or a child under 5.

P.S.  Need another reason to ditch the canned tuna?  It’s CANNED.  Canned foods are lined with BPA-tainted plastic.  Yup, virtually all of them!  Only a very, very few brands are starting to use non-BPA can linings, but they’re few and far between and very hard to find in your local store.

 

Toxic Chemicals may be Making our Kids Fat! May 2, 2009

Filed under: Healthy Living — Rachel @ 6:50 pm
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Here’s a sobering statistic… 1 in 5 American 4-year-olds is clinically obese.  That’s up 300% since 1980.  And, many more are seriously overweight. 

What is going on?  Anyone might reply that poor diet and lack of exercise are at the heart of this frightening problem, and they may be right.  Certainly, proper diet and exercise are a MUST.  But, did you know that studies are starting to reveal that certain common chemicals are contributing to the problem by messing with our hormones? 

You’ve heard me rant before about the dangers of BPA, Phthalates, PFOA, etc.  These are chemicals found in many plastic products from your vinyl shower curtain to non-stick cookware; from stain-resistant carpet to canned foods.  These synthetic chemicals are classified as hormone disruptors.  They can cause many serious developmental problems, cancer… and possibly obesity as well.  “A small, but growing body of evidence in both animals and humans are finding a variety of hormone disruptors linked to obesity, including tributyltin, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), organotins, BPA, and PFOA” (from Healthy Child, Healthy World). 

For more information on these chemicals and how you can avoid them see some of my previous posts:

Or explore the links in Healthy Child, Healthy World’s Article Chemicals Increasingly Linked to Obesity and How You Can Fight Fat .

 

Hormone Disruptors and Your Health February 12, 2009

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Pregnancy — Rachel @ 6:06 pm
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Girl, Disrupted: Hormone Disruptors and Women’s Reproductive Health is a new 35 page report designed to explain what we know today about hormone disrupting chemicals to regular people like you and I.  It was published by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment and focuses, specifically, on how several synthetic, hormone-disrupting chemicals are destroying women’s health.  The report details studies that link hormone disruptors to early puberty, infertility, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast cancer and others. 

I know I’ve written time and agan about dangerous chemicals Americans are commonly exposed to, such as BPA, pthalates and more.  I tend to focus on what we should do to protect our health.  Rather than giving a list of to-do’s, this report gives you clear, concise reasons why you should be concerned about hormone disruptors. 

I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the 35-page report.  Who has time for that?  Fortunately, they also published a concise summary brochure that gets right down to it:  Hormone Disruptors and Women’s Health: Reasons for Concern.  Go here, download the PDF and share it with your friends.  If you’re pregnant, nursing or trying to conceive you’re at a particular vulnerable point.  You should take steps now to protect the health of your baby.

 

Still Not Sure about BPA? January 22, 2009

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 5:33 pm
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I am certain that BPA (Bisphenol A) is a danger to human health, and I have worked to eliminate my family’s exposure to this hormone mimicing chemical.  But, if you’ve watched the news, the FDA doesn’t seem to agree.  In recent months, two governmental agencies issued opposing reports about exposure to BPA-containing plastics.  The National Toxicology Program (NTP), reported “some concern” that BPA harms the human brain and reproductive system, especially in little ones and the unborn. While at the same time, the FDA declared that “at current levels of exposure” BPA is safe. In October the FDA’s science board questioned that ruling, but the FDA did not revise it.  So, what’s the deal?

If you’re still unsure about the safety or toxicity of BPA, get ALL of the facts in this recent investigative journalism report from Fast Company.  The report, titled “The Real Story Behind Bisphenol A” cuts through the clutter to show that the VAST majority of studies (90% of independently-funded experiments) do show that BPA is a danger to human health even in very small doses, AND that those studies concluding that BPA is safe are industry-funded!!!  Hmm… 

As a parent, I’m not willing to take chances with my children’s health, especially when safe alternatives are available at reasonable prices.  I think it’s appalling that the FDA, an organization established to protect public health, has sunk to this level on an issue that effects all Americans.  I hope you’ll join me in voting with your dollars by purchasing BPA-free products.  Whenever possible, choose products made with glass, metal or wood.  These old-time favorites have withstood the test of time and are many times more eco-friendly too.

 

Melamine Children’s Dishes – Safe or Toxic? October 9, 2008

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 4:48 pm
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Last year when I rid our house of BPA-plastics, I wondered about melamine children’s dishes.  You know, those hard plastic kids plates and bowls with cute painted designs?  They are what everyone uses for kid’s tableware.  Safe or toxic?

I scoured the Internet for info on the safety of melamine for children, but came up with few hard facts: melamine is NOT dishwasher safe or microwave safe (something about the heat can cause dangerous fumes), melamine dishes are a polymer (that means combo) of melamine and formaldehyde, and formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.  These few facts did not boost my confidence.  Since my thought is to err on the side of caution when it comes to man made chemicals and my children, I decided to donate the melamine.  Since then, my 3-year-old has been using ceramic plates (none broken yet!) and my toddler has been eating out of Bambu Bowls (available at EuphoriaBaby.com).

Now, months later, I received an interesting email from Healthy Child Healthy World.  They noted that the FDA states that no level of melamine is safe for infant formula.  Considering that the FDA thinks BPA-emitting plastics are safe (yah right!), this makes one wonder why they’re taking such a strong stand on melamine.  Any research will reveal that melamine leaches its constituents into food and beverages(especially those that are acidic or warm) when used.  In the past, experts have claimed that this chemical would be safe in small amounts.  However, those experts always seem to forget about the dangers of cumulative exposure and unpredictable reactions when different chemicals converge within the body.

This June, The National Toxicology Program declared that more research is needed on the safety of melamine and that a new public health recommendation needs to be developed.  I can see where this is going.  If you are still using your cute melamine dishes, you may want to consider donating them or relegating them to the play kitchen or sandbox.   For the youngest ones, use wooden or stainless steel dishes.  And, let your older ones use ceramic dishes – a few broken dishes is well worth their health, and your child may be more ready for it than you think!

 

BPA Incriminated by Human Studies September 18, 2008

Filed under: Healthy Living — Rachel @ 3:17 pm
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BPA (Bisphenol-A), the common chemical used to make many plastics, was recently tested on humans against concerns with safety and health impacts.  Surprise, surpise… the tests CONFIRMED that BPA is a threat to human health.  Many previous animal studies had raised flags about the toxicity of BPA, and while some countries are taking steps to phase it out, the FDA still claims that BPA is safe.  Sadly, even in the face of this human study which showed strong links between BPA exposure and human diabetes, heart and liver diseases, the FDA “defended their assessment that BPA is safe,” according to a good overview in the 9/17 USA Today.   Wow, that’s just sad. 

Plastic baby bottles, drinking bottles, certain food containers and other items, including the lining of cans, may contain Bisphenol-A. Basically, consider any hard, clear plastic to be strongly suspect.  The chemical, which mimics the hormone estrogen, has repeatedly been found in the bodies of Americans and has been shown to contribute to prostate and breast cancer, obesity, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, brain damage, altered immune system, lowered sperm counts, and early puberty.  Doesn’t sound a bit safe to me.

For more details on that human study see this article at The Daily Green. For more info on BPA, check out my posts What Plastics are Safe? and BPA-Free for Your Pregnancy.