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10 Ways to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

10 ways to reduce your family's exposure to harmful checmicalsI stumbled across this statistic recently on Pinterest:

A USC study revealed that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing leukemia.


Our hot dog consumption has increased in the last year, spurred by the purchase of a fire pit and a need to eat “real food” (oh the irony) before we consume toasted marshmallows.

When I read the statistic, I didn’t believe it and sought to find the study itself and read it to find out how it had been sensationalized.

I searched and searched and found the abstract of the actual study (the whole study would have cost me $39.95), and the statistic is almost direct quote.

And? The study was published twenty years ago.

TWENTY YEARS AGO, a link was found between nitrite consumption (that’s the cancer-causing culprit in the hot dogs) and cancer, and nitrites are still added to hot dogs and other foods.

I am dumbfounded.

In my younger days, I was a bit radical where chemicals were concerned. I refused to buy milk or dairy products that contained rBGH, and I eliminated artificial colors. I bought local, organic eggs and all organic foods. I didn’t buy bleach at all, and I made my own cleaners and soaps.

Then I had kids, got busy, and allowed convenient to trump healthy. No one can be vigilant about everything all the time; it’s exhausting.

All of this has been on my mind, so when The Motherhood asked if I’d like to participate in a campaign with Seventh Generation, Healthy Child Healthy World, and Stonyfield on raising healthier children, I said an emphatic YES!

The first thing we did was to watch this video.

Take 3 minutes and watch it. You won’t regret it. –

What do you think?

Here are a few more numbers:

  • There are more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the U.S., but comprehensive safety testing of these chemicals is not required.
  • The primary U.S. law that regulates chemicals in everyday products hasn’t been updated in more than 35 years.
  • In the European Union, 1,328 chemicals have been banned for use in personal care products. In the U.S., 11 chemicals have been banned or restricted.
  • Scientific evidence points to the chemicals we are exposed to in our daily lives as causing or contributing to the rise in childhood behavioral disorders and diseases.
  • A recent study examined 10 face paints marketed to children. All 10 contained measurable amounts of lead.
  • Kids are more vulnerable to chemical exposure than adults.
  • Cancer is now the leading cause of child-related death in the U.S., exceeded only by injury.

I’m almost paralyzed by the deluge of frightening information.

10 Ways to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

Fortunately, Healthy Child, Healthy World suggests ten simple things families can do to decrease chemical exposure:

  1. Take off your shoes at the door. 85 percent of the dirt in our homes is tracked inside on the bottom of our shoes. The problem is that it’s not just dirt;  toxins like lead, pesticides, gasoline residue and others get deposited in your carpets and on your floors. Taking off your shoes is the home equivalent of washing your hands.
  2. Buy safer body care. Children are exposed to an average of 27 chemicals every day that have not been found safe for developing bodies. Protect them by avoiding products with ingredients like parabens, synthetic fragrances, and triclosan. For a list of most-toxic offenders, download the free eBook, Easy Steps to a Healthy & Safe Nursery.
  3. Open a window. People spend about 90 percent of their time inside, but indoor air is typically far more polluted than outside air. Open your windows! Even a few minutes a day can improve indoor air quality.
  4. Eat more whole, organic foods. Processed foods may be convenient, but they’re also loaded with sweeteners, artificial flavors and colorings, and synthetic preservatives. These lack nutrients and many are also linked to health issues like ADHD and even cancer.
    Research from the University of Washington suggests you can immediately and dramatically reduce the pesticide content in a child’s body by switching to organic foods. Stonyfield Organic offers an arrangement of foods for babies, kids and adults; pure, delicious organic yogurts, smoothies, soy yogurts, ice cream and milk. All Stonyfield Organice products are all made without:
    • Synthetic hormones
    • Toxic Persistent Pesticides
    • GMOs
    • Artificial Ingredients
  5. Avoid secondhand and thirdhand smoke. If you smoke, quit. Ban smoking in your home and car and don’t take your kids into environments where others are smoking, especially small spaces. Insist that your children avoid anyone who smells like smoke. If you can smell the smoke, your kids can inhale the noxious chemicals.
  6. Practice safer sunscreening. Wear lightweight fabrics you can’t see through and limit your time in the sun (especially between 10 am and 3 pm). If you have to use sunscreen, opt for a mineral sunscreen instead of a chemical one. Chemical sunscreens soak into the skin and contain synthetic compounds that could be harmful to your body. Try to avoid oxybenzone, instead opting for titanium or zinc, both of which sit on top of the skin without soaking in. Use a generous amount of mineral sunscreens, and reapply every two hours (or more frequently if you’re getting wet).
  7. Repel bugs without permethrin and DEET. Wear colors that blend in with your background and avoid perfumes and scented products when you’re going to be outside. The CDC says that oil of lemon eucalyptus-based repellents are as effective as DEET without many of the harmful side effects.
  8. Avoid parabens, phthalates, triclosan, BPA, and formaldehyde-releasers. Are you feeling paralyzed by information overload, too? If you can avoid these 5 chemicals (formaldehyde-releasers are numerous; the most common one is DMDM hydantoin), you’ll be well on your way to reducing harmful exposure. Be diligent about reading labels. Seventh Generation offers a nice label reading guide for cleaning products.
  9. Practice safer cleaning. A lot of household cleaning can be done with 6 simple ingredients – water, distilled white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, washing soda, and borax. When those won’t do, consider a healthier alternative from Seventh Generation. They use only ingredients proven to be safe for the environment and for your family.
  10. Host a Healthy Baby Home Party. Over 2,000 Happy Baby Home Parties are happening starting next week where moms and caregivers will share healthy tips, coupons, and samples, play games, share ways to support the Safe Chemicals Act, and visit with their friends. It’s a great excuse to get together! (Psst! There’s a $1 off coupon available for you on the Happy Baby Home Party website!)

What are you doing to limit your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals?

© 2013 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

1 thought on “10 Ways to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Harmful Chemicals”

  1. Thanks for this article. It’s a great reminder to me. I used to be far more vigilant than I am now. Time pressures make me make quick and easy choices that aren’t always the greenist or safest. And a whole new issue for me is the sunscreen! I’ve never heard about that before! Thanks again.

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