What many parents suspected is true: children exposed to toxic substances can develop learning disabilities, asthma and other health problems. A landmark Environmental Protection Agency report came to these conclusions and was posted on EPA’s website in draft form in March 2011.
However, because of fierce opposition from the chemical industry, the report has been sidetracked indefinitely. It was referred to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in early 2011, where it still sits and languishes to this day.
That should not stop parents from paying attention to the findings and protecting their children right away. The report cites hundreds of studies that show connections between exposure to certain chemical pollutants and how that correlates to negative health outcomes. It also cites animal studies that demonstrate cause and effect.
Entitled “America’s Children and the Environment, Third Edition,” the report is a sobering, or perhaps jolting, analysis of the way in which pollutants build up in children’s developing bodies and the damage they inflict.
What is remarkable is that this is the first time since the “America’s Children and the Environment” (ACE) series began in 2000, that extensive research linking common chemical pollutants to brain damage and nervous system disorders in fetuses and children is sited, although common sense would have came to the same conclusion.
The report also questions the high degree to which children are exposed to hazardous chemicals in air, drinking water, food and environments. It discusses exposures in their indoor environments – including schools and day-care centers – and exposure to contaminated land.
According to the report, “a growing number of human health studies” have discovered an association between prenatal exposure to PFCs and low birth weight, decreased head circumference and low birth length. The report goes on to state that based on “emerging evidence suggests that exposure to some PFCs can have negative impacts on human thyroid function.”
What can you do to protect your children? Let the five steps below serve as your guidelines:
Five Steps To Protecting Your Child’s Health
Improve your child’s diet by eliminating foods with excessive additives, food colorings, corn sweeteners, artificial sweeteners and GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Don’t indulge your child with junk foods, soda (loaded with chemicals) or sugar. The closer your child’s diet adheres to natural foods, the less burden on the child’s developing body, brain and nervous system.
Make sure your child eats adequate amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables every day and gets healthy amounts of nutrients.
Do not use poisonous chemicals in the house or yard, such as bug sprays, insecticides, rat poison, chemical fertilizer. These toxic substances have strong effects on children’s developing systems.
Consider “going green” when it comes to new carpeting, flooring, paint or any other type of home repair. Conventional carpeting (usually treated with stain or soil repellents), flooring, and paint all leach phthalates, pesticides, alkylphenols, brominated flame retardants, organotins and perfluorinated compounds — all referred to highly hazardous compounds. These are linked to serious reproductive problems in adults, and asthma and other respiratory problems in children, among other things. Most people in North America spend 69-90 percent of our time indoors and don’t think of “airing out” their homes.
Developing fetuses, children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to even miniscule amounts of these toxins. Many of these chemicals are “persistent,” meaning that they are not easily broken down by our bodies or in the environment. Even those that do break down are still released in such large amounts by the products around us that they are always present.
Parents should take note that a recent study found that children’s risk from contaminants in carpeting and house dust may be up to 40 times higher than that of adults!
Replace your child’s personal care products (such as soap, shampoo, and toothpaste) with natural versions. Most parents don’t realize the dangers of ordinary toothpaste and shampoo. Besides having a slew of artificial colorings, flavorings and harmful chemical additives, they contain sodium laurel sulfate, a cell mutagen. The artificial colorings, flavorings and harmful chemical additives are rapidly absorbed into the child’s system from the inside lining of the cheeks (one of the most absorbent places in the body) or scalp and go directly to the brain and nervous system.
The tetrasodium pyrophosphate in them can “severely irritate and burn the eyes, leading to permanent damage. Contact can irritate the skin,” according to the New Jersey Department of Health.
Sodium lauryl sulfate, a popular foaming agent used a a cheap filler, causes improper eye development in children that can lead to permanent damage and reacts with other ingredients to form cancer-causing nitrosamines. It also contains unacceptable levels of dioxin.
An excellent collection of children’s natural products is the KidScents line of children’s nutritional supplements and personal care products.
They were created to provide natural, non-toxic products for your child’s health and well-being. They are free of harmful ingredients and full of super nutrients that contribute to healthier health, skin and hair along with soothing and calming pure essential oils that help children relax and unwind after a busy day.
The collection includes vitamins, toothpaste, shampoo, bath gel, lotion, and gentle diaper rash ointment that doubles as a stretch mark cream.
Clean up innocuous-seeming pollutants in the home.
At the top of the list are the chemical fragrances found in detergents and dryer sheets. These fragrances contain a myriad of chemicals and once on your clothes, are impossible to escape. Some of these are Benzyl acetate, Ethanol, A-Terpineol, Ethyl Acetate, Chloroform, Pentane. These chemicals can cause headaches, irritations to skin and respiratory tracts, dizziness, vomiting, cancer, and central nervous system disorders. More info here: The Toxic Dangers of Dryer Sheets and Fabric Softeners
Beware of air fresheners, which contain phthalates (hormone-disrupting chemicals) as well as chemicals like acetone, the active ingredient in paint thinner and nail-polish remover; chloromethane, a neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant; and acetaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, both carcinogens.
They also cause increased earaches and diarrhea in infants and many other reactions.
Don’t use scented candles. Scents transform into extremely harmful and carcinogenic substances when burned. In addition, paraffin candles are as dangerous to the lungs as second-hand smoke because when burned, paraffin releases benzene and toluene – known carcinogens.
These toxic substances are inhaled into your children’s lungs and leave residues on walls, ceilings and fabrics.
Candles from China, South America and other developing countries often contain lead in the wicks. Burning a few leaded wicks for only a few hours will increase lead levels 9 to 11 times over acceptable limits. Just burning 4 metal-wick candles for two hours can result in enough airborne lead concentrations to pose a threat to human health.
Although completely eliminating encounters with environmental and household toxins for anyone living in a developed country is probably impossible, following these five steps can help you minimize the chemical and environmental dangers your child is exposed to.