Modern technology has contributed so much to make our lives easier, more convenient and more productive. In our consumer-driven age, this is no more evident that in the unprecedented wealth of products to which we have ready, affordable access. However, those same technological advances that have enriched our lives also come with a darker side. Many products that we use everyday contain dangerous chemicals that can have very real effects on the health of our families. Most concerning is that our babies and small children are not immune. Here is a look at a few children’s products you are using every day that may be harming your precious ones.
Many of the plastic products that our children interact with daily contain harmful endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA and Phthalates. These nasties impact your child’s hormonal systems and have been linked to early puberty and fertility problems later in life. Wherever possible, look for endocrine disruptor free products to ensure a healthier environment. This is particularly critical when it comes to anything that comes into contact with food, or is likely to go in your baby’s mouth. Acids in saliva and food, as well as salt and heat, can exacerbate the rate at which these chemicals leach from the material.
There is no denying the convenience of disposable diapers. They make life so much easier for so many people, but at what cost? Most major brands of disposable diapers contain an alarming cocktail of dangerous substances. These include carcinogenic dioxins, endocrine disrupting phthalates, irritating dyes and fragrances, toxic solvents such as toluene and ethylbenzene and the delightful sodium polyacrylate, which has been linked to a spate of Toxic Shock Syndrome cases in the 70s and 80s when it was a common ingredient in feminine hygiene products. While still not as convenient, cloth diapers have become far easier to use, making them a much better option and well worth a little extra effort.
After a series of high-profile lawsuits, the pharmaceutical behemoth Johnson & Johnson was forced to remove carcinogenic chemicals such as formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane from its baby shampoo and baby powder products. While you might be able to breathe easier using J&J now, many baby bath products still contain these and a host of other damaging ingredients, including many that claim to be “natural” or “gentle”. It is worth doing thorough research on baby care products to ensure that what you are using is safe.
Fearful Flame Retardants
You would think that chemicals that slow the spread of flames would be a great, safe option for your kids, right? Unfortunately, a common class of flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers are highly toxic and associated with thyroid issues. These chemicals are commonly found in foams that make their way into children’s toys and pillows, where they break down and can be inhaled. Flame retardants do little to protect your family in the statistically unlikely event of a fire, and you are far better off looking for products that advertise themselves as flame retardant free.
Another class of products that sound helpful, but do more harm than good. Aside from creating an overly sterile environment that inhibits babies immune system development, almost all antibacterial products contain triclosan or triclocarban, both of which have been shown to be highly toxic carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. You are far better off allowing your family’s bodies to fight off the germs.
While this might all seem overwhelming, there are plenty of safe products on the market, so do plenty of research and keep your home free of products that can harm your family.
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