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Published: 6/5/2007

One More Way to Keep Your Kids Safe

(ARA) - Parents do a lot of things for the sake of their children -- from sitting through soccer games in the freezing rain to making sure they eat a healthy, balanced diet to providing a safe, clean place to live. Unfortunately, many of the cleaning products commonly found on grocery store shelves and in your home are not as safe as you might think.

Take a minute to inventory the cleaning products you currently use. How many times do words like "danger," "warning," and "caution" appear on the labels? Cleaning products are exempt from the full ingredient disclosure on product labels as required for food and personal care products and enter the marketplace with little or no testing for potential health risks.

But compelling evidence links the chemicals in household products to a whole range of conditions, including cancer, asthma, allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, hormonal disruption and reproductive and developmental disorders. For example, many all-purpose cleaners, window cleaners, spray cleaners and scouring powders contain butyl cellosolve, a liver and kidney neurotoxin. And check for naphthalene -- a kidney toxin, cataract trigger and carcinogen -- in your toilet cleaners, carpet cleaners and deodorizers.

Children are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of the chemicals found in our homes. Their higher metabolism and greater appetites for everything from food to air mean that they experience greater pound-for-pound exposures to the toxins of everyday life than adults. And their smaller size and still-developing body systems mean they're disproportionately affected by those hazards they encounter. That makes protecting children from household chemical hazards among a parent's most urgent tasks.

"Parents and all those concerned with the welfare of children need to be aware of the preventable health and development problems caused by exposure to toxic substances in homes, schools and communities and empowered to take action to protect children against these toxic threats," says Christopher Gavigan, executive director of the Children's Health Environmental Coalition (CHEC), a national non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about environmental toxins that affect children's health. As consumers become more aware of the risks posed by common household cleaning products, they are demanding more environmentally friendly products, and even making their own non-toxic cleaning supplies.

A great place to start finding out more about natural cleaning products is the book "Naturally Clean," written by Jeffrey Hollender, president of Seventh Generation, the Vermont-based company that has been a leader in environmentally friendly household products for 18 years. Royalties from the sale of the book benefit the Children's Health Environmental Coalition in their efforts to educate parents about environmental toxins that can affect children's health through their Blue Butterfly campaign.

The campaign is getting help from celebrities, including actress Laura Dern. "As a mother, and as an individual wanting a safer and cleaner environment to raise my children in, it was an easy choice for me to get involved with the Blue Butterfly Campaign," she says. "'Naturally Clean' is an important step on the path to a healthier future for all our children."

In addition to explaining the dangers of traditional cleaners and showing how the chemicals found in your home contribute to health problems, the book contains a room-by-room guide on tips for a healthier kitchen; keeping bedrooms safe; controlling mold, mildew and soap scum in the bathroom; and special precautions for cleaning children's rooms. Courtesy of ARA Content



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