I’m a mom on a mission to help other families get dangerous chemicals out of their lives.
Every single day more of us are learning about the thousands of poorly-studied chemicals in our air, water, food, furniture, and personal care products. Over 80,000 synthetic chemicals are in use right now, only a few hundred of which have been studied for safety.
They’re in your sofa.
Your household dust.
And even your kids’ toys.
It’s mind-boggling that chemical companies are allowed to inflict this stuff on us without testing their products’ effects on health, but they are. Though you can’t avoid them completely, there are some simple ways to significantly reduce your kids’ exposure to harmful compounds at this critical point in their development.
Because of their small size and developing bodies, kids are especially susceptible to the effects of industrial chemicals.
But a little knowledge can go a long way toward protecting your family and reducing what’s known as their “body burden.”
11 ways to give your baby the healthiest start possible and protect your family from harmful chemicals
As you get savvier about the chemicals pervading our lives, you’ll be more attuned to the ways your family may be exposed to these harmful substances. Take it slow, tackling whichever steps seem most doable, and over time you can create a much safer, healthier environment for your children.
Scrutinize your daily products.
Make sure personal care products don’t contain hazardous ingredients. In fact, find the safest products, everything from toothpaste to make up to lotion, using the Environmental Working Group’s searchable Skin Deep database. From shampoo to sunscreen, do your homework and choose the safest options.
Green your cleaning routine.
Make your own if you can. In fact, some can be made from simple ingredients like vinegar and water. You can also make some kitchen cleaners with essential oils. Or of course, you can buy ones that have received top ratings from EWG. (Spoiler alert: Not every product claiming to be “green” scored well!)
Eat organic as much as possible.
Filter your water.
Sad to say, our drinking water is full of agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and heavy metals. You can find out exactly which contaminants are in yours by entering your zip code in the Tap Water Database.
An NSF-tested water filter will remove a large number of these contaminants. Check out this helpful guide to choosing the right filter.
Avoid canned food and beverages bottled in plastics.
This can drastically reduce your exposure to BPA and poorly-studied replacements. As much as possible, avoid plastic food packaging and storage containers.
Get PVC out of your house.
Ditch the vinyl shower curtain, vinyl toys, tablecloths, and binders. The Center for Health, Environment and Justice has a good overview of the health risks posed by PVC here and an extensive list of PVC-containing products and PVC-free options here.
Avoid cheap trinkets and plastic toys.
A study by the Campaign for Healthier Solutions found that over 80% of dollar store toys contained unsafe levels of lead, PVC, and other harmful chemicals.
Leave your shoes at the door.
All the stuff you pick up on the soles of your shoes — pesticides, heavy metals, petroleum residues — can wind up in your household dust. Experts estimate that 30-40% of the contaminants in our homes come from the bottom of our shoes. Have a strict no-shoes policy and you’ll keep a lot of unwanted pollutants out of your house.
Wet-dust and wet-mop regularly.
Our household dust has tiny particles that have degraded from our furniture and electronics, which can contain fire retardants, heavy metals, and other harmful contaminants. Babies and small children spend a lot of time on the floor (and stick stuff in their mouths!) so are more prone to exposure to chemicals in dust.
Slowly replace other sources of chemicals in your house with non-toxic ones.
This will take time, but as items need replacing, you can make safer choices, including furniture and carpeting (skip the stain guard!), cookware, mattresses, and more. Here’s my go-to source for information on finding non-toxic products.
When you remodel, be sure to source non-toxic paints and materials.
Building materials are full of industrial chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. Before your next building project, educate yourself on the basics of green remodeling.
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About Susannah Shmurak
She is passionate about helping people find easy ways to live healthier lives. Pick up one of her free guides to healthier living at her website, HealthyGreenSavvy.com and contact her about personalized coaching at Susannah@healthygreensavvy.com.