Protect Your Home & FamilyBy Center for Environmental Health
Our homes can be particularly toxic places for children and pets (who spend a lot of their time on or near the floor). CEH makes the following recommendations for reducing toxicity in your home.
Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups
Baby bottles, milk storage bottles, and sippy cups made from polycarbonate plastic leach the harmful chemical bisphenol-A. There are several safe alternatives to polycarbonate including bottles, storage containers, and sippy cups made from polypropylene, polyethylene and tempered glass bottles, as well as disposable bottle systems with pre-sterilized polyethylene drop-in bags.
Toxic polycarbonate products are hard and crystal clear. They may be tinted a bright see-through color and may also be labeled with the recycling code #7. Safe polypropylene and polyethylene products are generally cloudy and squeezable.
Click here to read more about bisphenol-A in baby bottles.
Baby Body Care Products
Most body care products contain ingredients that are unhealthy for babies. Moreover, baby body care products are usually unnecessary. We recommend reducing your baby’s exposure to fragrances, paraben (a preservative), and triclosan (a pesticide found in antibiotic products) by using mild castile (vegetable-based) soaps and shampoos.
Baby powder, body lotion, oils, commercial baby wipes, and bubble bath are unnecessary. Even products labeled “unscented” may contain a masking fragrance that should be avoided. To prevent diaper rash, use a wet baby washcloth or a piece of a cloth diaper to clean your baby during every diaper change. Allow your baby’s skin to dry completely before putting on new diapers.
If your baby has very dry skin, consult your doctor.
Baby Food and Formula
Non-organic food and formula is often contaminated with pesticides. It is easy, quick, and inexpensive to make your own baby food using organic fruit and vegetables. USDA certified organic baby food and formula is also a safe choice.
Remember that foods and formula labeled “organic” can still be packaged in containers that may leach bisphenol-A. Organic baby food packed in glass containers is safe and powdered baby formula is better than liquid formula in metal cans.
Disposable diapers don’t decompose in land-fills and they contain plastics, synthetic liners, artificial fragrances, inks, wood pulp, and adhesives. We recommend using modern 100% cotton diapers, which are pin-less and quick to change. Check your phone book for a local diaper service that uses nontoxic cleaning methods.
Teethers and Toys
lead and phthalates are frequently found in vinyl teethers and toys. We recommend avoiding vinyl toys and using cloth or wooden teethers. Frozen bananas, terrycloth toys fresh from the freezer, and plastic teethers labeled “PVC free” and “phthalate free” are also suitable alternatives.
Deodorizers and Air Fresheners
Deodorizers and air fresheners contain cresol, phenol, and formaldehyde that desensitize your nose and are associated with numerous health problems. Small dishes of baking soda or white vinegar placed around the house can absorb odors, as can house plants.
Household cleaners often contain chemicals that are harmful to our lungs, eyes, and skin and can also cause poisonings in children and pets. Most specialty cleaning products can be safely replaced with various combinations of white distilled vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, liquid soap (castile, vegetable-based, or glycerin), lemon juice, olive oil, and club soda.
Laundry Detergents and Fabric Softeners
Laundry detergents and fabric softeners contain fragrances and other chemicals that can cause genetic damage, breathing problems, and other allergic symptoms. We recommend choosing vegetable-based laundry detergent (made from corn, palm kernel, or coconut oil) that is fragrance-free, dye-free, and does not contain optical brighteners.
Paint gives off harmful VOC fumes even after the paint has dried. We recommend using safer low-VOC paint. Pregnant women should never paint, and expectant parents should paint the nursery well ahead of time to allow the room air out thoroughly.
Chemical pesticides cause serious health problems without addressing the root cause(s) of pest infestation. Click here for safe and easy suggestions for dealing with pest problems.
Tags: product tips and resources