By Dr. Janet Levatin
I have long said that it is best for us to raise our children with as few commercial products as possible, and to use natural alternatives whenever feasible. I recently came across evidence confirming that these principles are sound, and that it’s more important than ever to make wise choices when it comes to what we buy for our children.
Washington state passed a law in 2008 requiring manufacturers of children’s products to disclose the presence of 66 chemicals identified as toxic. These particular chemicals were targeted as “necessary-to-report” because they are linked to disorders such as developmental and reproductive problems, endocrine gland disruption, and cancer… serious stuff!
Recently several companies, including Walmart, Target, Gap, and Gymboree, made the required disclosures, revealing that over 5,000 children’s products contained toxins, including metals (mercury, cadmium, antimony, cobalt, and molybdenum), flame retardants, fragrances, phthalates (the chemicals that give plastic products flexibility), and more. The products reported are commonly used: clothing, toys, bedding, arts and crafts supplies, shoes, and baby products. Also on the list are jewelry, accessories, cleaning products, hair products, and furniture.
As I walk through the Big Chain stores that are so popular today and look at the plethora of plastic products for sale, I can’t help but think of them as “junk,” the same way I look at the poor quality, mass-produced, chemical-laced junk we call “food.” When I see parents dress their kids in polyester clothes, give them plastic toys to play with, wipe their faces with baby wipes, use fragranced products to launder their clothes, and allow toxic vaccines as part of their “well baby” care, I wonder what is going to become of the next generation of children? Is it even possible to live a more natural, healthier existence?
Washington state is to be commended for passing such legislation. The companies that complied with the reporting requirements are to be commended as well. Due to their efforts, consumers can make more informed choices when shopping for their children. Hopefully more states — and our federal government — will step up to the challenge so parents can protect their children from the harmful chemicals that have become entrenched in today’s consumer society.
Here are a few principles I recommend to create a less toxic environment for your children:
1. Use organic cotton clothes and bedding, remembering that these item are on your child 24/7. Avoid synthetic fabrics as much as possible; avoid fabrics treated with flame retardants.
2. Avoid plastic containers, especially soft plastics. Never microwave in plastic if you microwave at all.
3. Avoid fragranced cleaning and personal care products.
4. Get active in your local community. Put pressure on companies to stop manufacturing and carrying products that are toxic to our children. Support local vendors who provide natural items, such as wooden toys and whole foods.
5. Get active nationally. Put pressure on our state and federal governments to ban toxic chemicals in our children’s products.
By educating ourselves and making wise choices on what businesses we support, perhaps there is still a way to create a healthier future and healthier planet for our children and future generations.