children-and-toxic-chemicals

Last week, while scanning through the local newspaper, I came across an article that concerned me.  The article was about poison chemicals, and how the number of industrial chemicals that are known to cause childhood brain impairments has more than doubled since 2006.

In 2006, Harvard School of Public Health and Mount Sinai Hospital scientists found six groups of toxins which had a direct impact on human brain development.  Now, they identified six more, including pesticides, inorganic compounds, dangerous solvents, and metals that have the same impact on the brain.  What is scary about this is that these chemicals are widely used, but have never been tested for human safety.  Many Americans are exposed to these chemicals on a regular basis.  Some of these brain-damaging compounds float through the air in our homes in the house dust.

Back in 2006, the list of brain-damaging chemicals included arsenic based compounds, lead, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’S).  Now the list includes pesticides DDT, DDE and chlorpyrifos, industrial flourides, brominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants), and tetrachloroethylene (PERC), which is used in dry cleaning.

Brominated diphenyl ethers are flame retardants which show up in house dust and humans because it is widely used in carpets, draperies, furniture upholstery and computer cases.

The pesticide DDT was banned in the United States but is still used throughout Latin American agriculture.  Much of the produce imported from Mexico and elsewhere increases our exposure to DDT.

PERC had been found in groundwater.  It is a central nervous system toxin and is also suspected of affecting the liver, kidneys, immune system and reproductive organs.

There are no laws safeguarding children whose developing brains are vulnerable to toxic chemicals in the environment.  There should be laws requiring manufacturers to prove that existing and new chemicals used for public use should be tested for safety and proved to be non-toxic.  Fetal and early childhood exposures to toxic chemicals have grown into a silent pandemic of neurodevelopmental disorders, like autism, dyslexia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and losses in IQ points.

Raising my children healthy and keeping them safe has always been my number one priority.  As a nurse, I see the health effects chemicals can have on us.  In fact, I have experienced some of these effects first hand.   At fourteen years old, my first job was at a boatyard cleaning new and used boats.  We used every chemical possible to make those old boats look brand new.  For five years I breathed in and handled chemical after toxic chemical, not even knowing what it was doing to my body inside.

Twenty years later, I am feeling the effects everyday through the asthma and respiratory issues that were the result of handling hazardous chemicals six hours a day, five days a week for five years.  The burn scars on my chin from cleaning with certain toxins is a constant reminder to me of how strong, powerful and harmful these chemicals really are.

This article just proves why there needs to be regulations against the use of certain toxic chemicals and laws for manufacturers stating how ingredients should be listed on everything we, as consumers, buy and use in our homes everyday.  It also shows how important the green movement really is.  Living green is a healthy lifestyle choice.  Cleaning with non-toxic green products (like Maid Brigade does) or cleaning with homemade non-toxic solutions cuts down on the chemicals in your home and keeps your home healthy and clean.  The indoor air is then safer because there are lesser VOC’s consuming it.  Vacuuming with a HEPA filter vacuum also cuts down on dust and pollen floating around, and putting a HEPA filter in your home can help with this as well.  Educating yourself and your family about harmful chemicals and keeping them out of the home is critical today, especially when there are no laws telling manufacturers to list ingredients on labels.

What do you do to keep your kids away from toxic chemicals?