Last time, my uncle sent me an email about the health risks of toxic chemicals on our children. He got it from ivillage.com. I believe it is not just for me but for all of us moms who are concerned about the health and well-being of our children. So I am sharing them with you in order to identify them, where we could possibly get them, and what to do about them.
Arsenic is a poisonous contaminant that can sometimes be found in rice, baby food, and even outdoor play areas. While it is banned for use on food products since 2004, it is still used as chemical treatment for wooden products used in picnic yards, parks, or playgrounds. It was reported that arsenic is a carcinogen that can affect all the organs in the body.
What to do: If you have old wood play sets, replace them with wooden products made of cedar because these are highly resistant to rotting and pests. You may also apply a sealant on the items so that your children may be protected from arsenic leaching every time they touch the surface. If you have picnics on wooden tables, bring a table cloth.
We have been concerned about the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) that is usually found in baby bottles so we always check the label if the bottles that we buy are BPA-free. But they are also present in other plastic bottles, cans of baby formula, as well as certain kinds of foods that are placed in canisters. BPA is considered an endocrine disruptor and targets the bodily systems that are dependent on endocrine-type hormones for development, such as the sex organs. Children who are exposed to BPA have a high risk of developing reproductive cancers.
What to do: BPA-free products, especially baby bottles, are best to use. Avoid using plastic containers that have the number “7″ at the bottom for your foods and drinks because it has BPA content that can leach in whatever you eat and drink. Microwave food in ceramic or glass products.
Phthalates may also be found in plastics and also affect endocrine function. Excessive exposure to these chemicals could lead to hormonal imbalance, neurological problems, or reproductive problems, like early onset of puberty. In Denmark, kids with high exposure to phthalates as measured from their urine had lower levels of thyroid hormones. Several types of phthalates are often used in toys, teethers, bath toys, pacifiers, and other soft toys–things that little kids often put in their mouths.
What to do: Look for toys and items that are labeled phthalate-free.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas but is very poisonous and often known as “the silent killer.” It is produced whenever there is burning and fuels such as wood, charcoal, kerosene or gas are used. This is especially true for those homes that use fuel-burning appliances.
What to do: You can have your fuel-burning appliances inspected and maintained every year to avoid malfunction. Don’t burn charcoal fire indoors. Better yet, install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
They are pretty much everywhere in the house–mattresses, pillows, computers, curtains, and furniture. The high levels of fire retardants–called polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs–are toxic. They are present even in the household dust. When inhaled or ingested, PBDEs can lead to impaired attention, and learning, memory and behavior problems.
What to do: Some kinds of PBDEs have already been taken off the market. But we cannot be rid of them entirely. Our only control is probably in our home, where we can repair exposed foam in our furniture. We can also opt to buy products made only from natural fibers likes wool and cotton. They are less flammable and therefore would not need much fire retardants.
The foam insulation and furniture made of pressed wood or particleboard may release formaldehyde into the air. Formaldehyde is a gas with fumes that cause eye, nose and throat irritation. They also trigger asthma flare-ups in kids who already have the condition. They have also been linked to cancer of the lungs and nasal sinuses.
What to do: Only an industrial hygienist or air quality engineer can really measure the levels of formaldehyde in your home. If the levels are high, then consider replacing your insulation. As for emissions from furniture and cabinets, the formaldehyde fumes go away within several weeks, so if you have a new piece of furniture, then air them out in the porch before bringing them inside the room. Keep your room ventilated until you no longer smell an odor.
For homes built before 1978, then it is likely that the paint on the walls and woodwork have lead. When those homes were renovated, the paint scraped or sanded can become airborne or get into household dust. The toxic metal can then end up on kids’ hands and eventually, in their mouths. Lead poisoning can harm a child’s brain development, cause a loss of IQ, as well as cause attention and behavior problems. Lead may also affect a child’s reproductive system and other major organs.
What to do: A certified contractor can test your home for lead paint and remove it if necessary. While the work is being done, move out of the house. As for lead in tap water, use only cold water for drinking and cooking. Let the water flow a few seconds before using the water.
Many deep sea fish are already contaminated with this poisonous metal such as, tuna, swordfish, mackerel, shark, and tilefish. Excess levels of mercury in the blood of young children can impair brain development as well as the nervous system. Kids may suffer from reduced intelligence, speech and memory problems, behavior problems, and shortened attention.
What to do: Avoid eating these foods that have high mercury content and instead find alternative sources of Omega-3, which is good for pregnant moms and young children.
There are more, but I will reserve it for another post.