Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

advice, news & freebies

Toxic Toy Alert – Phthalates May 29, 2008

Have you heard of phthalates?  It’s hard to type but even harder to say.  Try “thal-ate”.  Well, phthalates are a chemical found in soft PVC plastics (vinyl), nail polish, and synthetic fragrances.  These nasty little chems where introduced in the 30’s and are responsible for that new shower curtain smell and the odor of conventional nail polish.  Phthalates are absorbed into our body through fumes.  When baby mouths that soft, vinyl bath book or teether toy she takes in a mouthful of phthalates as well.  Phthalates are so common that when the CDC tested 289 people in 2000, they found phthalates in all of the subjects’ blood at surprisingly high levels.

If this makes you nervous, you’re starting to see a pattern.  Synthetic chemicals (particularly from plastic) that build up in our bodies are rarely safe.  Here’s some info from the Environmental Working Group:  “Phthalates are endocrine disruptors linked to problems of the reproductive system, including decreased sperm motility and concentration in men and genital abnormalities in baby boys. (Oh, and did you know that average sperm counts have decreased significantly since the 1940’s?) More recently they’ve also been linked to asthma and allergies.”  The Environmental Working Group also has a rather depressing article showing that 45 studies demonstrate a strong link between phthalate exposure and the development of allergies and asthma.  If you’ve set out to avoid BPA, say “no” to phthalates as well. 

If you want to purge your house of phthalates, start by searching for type 3 plastics.  If you find the number “3” in a triangle on a soft plastic item, it contains phthalates.  Here are some probable sources of phthalates in your home:  shower curtain, baby toys (teethers, bath books, balls, dolls) , baby bibs, waterproof mattress protectors, nail polish, cosmetics that contain the word “fragrance” in the ingredients, air fresheners with artificial fragrances.  You can replace your plastic shower curtain with a fabric one from www.Greenfeet.com.  Switch to non-toxic nail polishes like Polished Mama (available at EuphoriaMaternity.com) and pure cosmetics that are fragrance-free or scented with pure essential oils.  All Earth Mama Angel Baby products (available at EuphoriaMaternity.com and EuphoriaBaby.com) are phthalate-free. 

Baby toys can be difficult.  Most plastic baby books or “bath” books are PVC.   Opt for cloth books instead.  For teethers, try natural wood teethers or cloth teethers.  If that won’t do, search for plastic teethers specifically marketed as “phthalate-free”.   Choose rubber balls, cloth dolls, and cloth or silicone bibs.  For a non-vinyl waterproof mattress protector, use wool or check out our organic cotton choices from Naturepedic.

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Safe Sunscreens for the Family April 24, 2008

We know that too much sun exposure is not wise, but are sunscreens themselves really safe?  Of all the body care and cosmetics you use, sunscreens are likely to be filled with the most dangerous chemicals.  When sunscreen soaks into the skin, we absorb known carcinogens and estrogen-imitating chemicals, which can cause a whole host of serious problems.  In fact, some research has shown that countries in which chemical-laden sunscreens are most commonly used actually report the greatest increase in cancer melanoma (skin cancer). 

What’s safe?  Look for sunscreens that contain only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.  These non-chemical sunscreens are often marketed for babies or those with sensitive skin, but they’re the best choice for all of us.  Instead of soaking into the skin, these sunscreens sit on top of the skin and deflect rays.  Here’s a list of safe sunscreens from Nature Mom’s Blog post “Safe Sunscreens for the Family” :

California Baby SPF 30 + Sunblock Stick – No Fragrance– My top pick for kids! This is a non chemical sunscreen. It uses non-penetrating titanium dioxide (no nano particles) to protect against the sun. It is also made with organic & sustainably grown ingredients.

California Baby SPF 30 – This is specially for children to be safe and it a favorite among many natural parents. I have used this on my own kids and I really like it. I usually opt for the fragrance free versions.

California Baby SPF 30 + Bug Repellent– This is a good sunblock/bug repellent combo that is DEET free.

Badger Face & Body Sunblock SPF 30 – There was huge run on this sunscreen not long ago and you could hardly get it. It is known to be one of the safest sunscreens out there.

Lavera Baby and Children Sun Screen Lotion, SPF 30– Contains organic peach seed, apricot seed oil and calendula and protects against UV A, B and C rays with waterproof protection.

Jason Natural – Sunbrellas Chemical Free Sun Block SPF30+– Chemical, Fragrance and Paraben Free Complete UVA & UVB Protection Ideal for Sensitive Skin.

Dermalogica Ultra Sensitive Faceblock SPF 25 – Another chemical free sunblock using non-penetrating titanium dioxide. This has a hint of color…most likely to hide the streaky whiteness of the natural titanium dioxide.

For more info and details about sunscreen safety, read Tiffani’s whole article, “Safe Sunscreens for the Family

 

Dangerous Baby Bottles? August 17, 2007

Have you heard of the latest concerns regarding the safety of polycarbonate plastic baby bottles?  Independent studies (more than 130 of them!) show that polycarbonate plastics continually release bisphenol-A (BPA) into foods and liquids.  So, what’s BPA?  It was originally created in the 30’s as a synthetic hormone.  Now it’s used as the basic building block for polycarbonate plastics.  Trouble is that, “BPA exposure at very low doses is linked to a staggering number of health problems, including prostate and breast cancer, obesity, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, brain damage, altered immune system, lowered sperm counts, and early puberty.” Check out this link for more details on the studies and findings associated with BPA exposure:  http://www.environmentcalifornia.org/environmental-health/stop-toxic-toys/bisphenol-a-overview

BPA’s are probably a threat to us all, but they are certainly dangerous for young, developing babies.  Accordingly, many parents are switching to ploycarbonate-free baby bottles, toys, and dishes.  But, how do you know?  Manufacturers don’t have to reveal what type of plastic they use.  As a rule of thumb, however, polycarbonate plastic baby bottles are rigid, clear, and shiny; whereas, other plastic bottles are pliable, cloudy, or tinted.  Sadly, most of your favorites are probably BPA-producers.  Manufacturers are currently producing new alternatives such as Gerber’s Fashion Tints and Adiri’s Natural Nurser.  Any glass bottle or bottles with a disposable liner should be safe.  All bottles from Born Free or Medela are polycarbonate-free.