Shane D. Shirley-Smith - Orlando, Florida
When I was a little girl I never worried about what I put into or on my body. As a child of the 1970's I was more concerned with making sure my hair was feathered just right, perfecting disco dancing and watching Nadia Comăneci steal the show at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal – and I mistakenly thought I could rely on my parents to protect me. They did a good job keeping me safe from scary monsters under my bed, mean kids on the playground and anything else that I thought might hurt me, real or imagined. It never occurred to me that there were things even they didn't know they were exposing me to that could harm me.
Fast forward through three decades, numerous miscarriages and a frightening health scare from an artificial sweetener and sadly, as an adult, I have come to realize that my parents and I had no idea of the real harm I was exposed to. Now know that what was in my phthalate laced baby shampoo, my flame retardant 's and even in my food and toys were, in all likely hood, more harmful to me than all of the frightening things we could have ever conjured up.
Millennial Parents Know Better but Need More Help Protecting Their Children
These days, thanks to the efforts of coalitions like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, parents have a much better idea of the fact that harmful, toxic chemicals are lurking in the consumer products they purchase and use every single day.
Although parents are more aware than ever of the toxic dangers lurking in their children's lives than they were 20 years ago, many are still confused as to exactly how to reduce their children's exposure.
5 Ways to Protect Your Children From Toxic Chemicals
Even though it is impossible to eliminate all of the toxic chemicals and their resulting health risks from your children's lives, you can declare your child's independence from toxic chemicals by following these 5 simple tips.
Buy Organic as Much as Possible - When we talk about foods, organic refers to the way that agricultural products are grown and processed. In addition to meeting other strict requirements, organic foods are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers which have been linked to cancer, immune system suppression, miscarriages, Parkisnson's disease and neurological illness – not to mention massive pollution and environmental decay. Be mindful of the organic label on non food products like shampoo and dental floss, which may contain Perfluorinated Compounds (PFC's) linked to cancer. And non-organic mattresses, baby products like car seats and furniture may contain toxic flame retardants (the same ones that were banned from my PJ’s are now ending up back in our furniture and children’s products.)
Get Rid of Air Fresheners and Synthetic Fragrances – Even though they cost a small fortune, the use of indoor air fresheners and fragrance and perfumes is on the rise. Unfortunately though, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less continuously." Plus many air fresheners, including those advertised as “all natural” or “unscented", contain phthalates which are hazardous, endocrine disrupting chemicals known to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems. A 2010 report by the President's Cancer Panel acknowledged that low doses of endocrine disruptors have health effects that contribute to the development of cancer. Here is a link to NRDC’s independent testing of air fresheners.
Keep an Eye On Toy Recalls – Believe it or not, heavy metals like lead are still being found in children's toys, jewelry, art supplies, clothing, shoes and even candy. Lead exposure causes health problems, especially for young children. Lead exposure can affect children’s developing brains and nervous systems making them suffer from shorter attention spans and making it more difficult for them to learn and read than their unaffected peers. You can even sign up for recall updates from the Consumer Product Safety Commissions (CPSC).
Reduce Your Children's Exposure to Bisphenol-A (BPA) – BPA is found in many plastics, food cans and other consumer products. It is probably circulating through your body right now as it was found to be present in 93% of Americans by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and it is found in the cord blood of newborns. A 2011 study in Environmental Health Perspectives says that even some consumer products listed as BPA free, still leach hormone like chemicals so to protect your children, use stainless steel and glass containers as possible, reduce your intake of canned foods and avoid having your children handle thermal receipt paper.
Take a Stand and Call on Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act – At the end of the day we shouldn’t have to worry about these modern day monsters in the closet. Please join me in taking action and fixing our broken system. Contact your Senators and let them know that it is time for a new Federal law to protect American children and their families from toxic chemicals. Safer Chemicals Healthy Families makes it really easy and it literally takes less than 2 minutes to make a difference to help change the future health of American families. Do it now and continue to check back in to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families for updates on how close we are to making this important change for the health of our future.
Our future depends on our knowledge and actions. What choices will you make today that will change your health and the health of our world tomorrow? Together we CAN find the path that will lead us to a greener, healthier future.