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Grandma’s Spring Cleaning: Dirty Secrets of the Clean Modern Home

The thought of spring cleaning brings back memories of a top to bottom, labor intensive, white glove worthy house cleaning marathon. My grandmother-in-law, who bless her soul is independent at 94 years of age, still takes down the drapes every spring to be cleaned and changed. Up until a few years ago all of her windows inside and out got a top to bottom washing (frames, glass, screens and all) shiny enough to make most auto-detailers blush. Blooming daffodils, buds on trees, the return of the song birds are all components of spring that I welcome every year. Allergies and spring cleaning are not.
I will admit that I am the type of mom who prides myself on spending quality time with my kids over my mop, but let’s face it grandma may have something to emulate. Those spiders making webs in the corner behind the sofa and dust mites sleeping on the ceiling fan blades really should find their way out, and spring is as good a time as any to do it. But what I truly emulate about great-grandma’s spring cleaning isn’t the white glove results she gets, but the way that she gets her house that way.

You see when grandma was young and took on the chore of cleaning her house, she didn’t have the chemical detergent concoctions that most of us clean with today. Her cleaning products were not only effective, but they were naturally derived, eco-friendly, non-toxic substances; that this “green hip organic mom” emulates. So as I am doing my share of spring cleaning before summer officially arrives, I decided to take a closer look at the difference between the products my grandmother used and the ones my mother introduced me to growing up.

One reason that I have grown to appreciate the products my grandmothers used is the simple fact that all of my grandmothers out lived my mothers. You see, in my life, my mom, my father’s second wife, and mother-in-law were all out lived by their mothers. I have watched my grandmothers persevere through the final years of their lives with the pain of loosing their daughters too early to cancer. Through taking a closer look at the differences in products used by these generations, I hope to shine a light on some of the links to cancer in our current household environment.

Before doing this, it is important to highlight a big unknown in this comparison. Since the explosion of the petro-chemical industry after WWII, tens of thousands of chemicals have been developed and are used every year in household products. Many of these chemicals have not had substantial testing before coming to market. Many of the same cleaners now used in industry can be found in household products. But unlike industrial cleaners, American household cleaners have no legal requirement to label products with ingredient lists. As a result, consumers have limited access to information on exactly what is in their household cleaning products.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at what we are able to uncover about the cleaning products used across these generations.

Task: Cleaning the windows
Grandma’s cleaner: Vinegar and water are a great solution for streak free windows from a nontoxic edible formula.
Mom’s cleaner: Ammonia, the base of modern glass cleaners, is considered a high health hazard by the US Department of Labor because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and lungs. It is highly flammable and creates a toxic gas when mixed with chlorine. Since manufacturers are not required to include all of the ingredients on labels, consumers can unknowingly be in contact with a multitude of undisclosed chemicals.

Task: Souring sinks, tubs, pots & pans
Grandma’s cleaners: Bon Ami For 120 years, Bon Ami has claimed that they are the cleaner that “Hasn’t Scratched Yet”. This gentle abrasive uses a soft mineral, feldspor in combination with basic soap to sour effectively. Baking Soda, a.k.a Sodium Bicarbonate has been used for years to clean everything from teeth to pots and pans.
Mom’s cleaner: Comet Active Ingredient: Sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione dihydrate 1.2% Toxicity: very strong irritant; corrosive to mucous membranes; allergic contact dermatitis. 98.8% undisclosed ingredients

Task: Washing clothes
Grandma’s cleaner: Soap is made by a fairly simple process called saponification, in which oils and lye mix and become soap. Soap has been used safely for centuries dating back to the Romans. Borax is made of a naturally occurring mineral comprised of sodium, boron, oxygen and water. 20 Mule Team® Borax has been used for decades and does not contain phosphates or chorine.
Mom’s cleaner: Laundry Detergent was first developed in Germany during WWII due to a shortage of oil needed to make soap. The development of petrochemicals allowed synthetic chemical surfactants to be combined with penetration builders creating a laundry detergent free of soap. The ingredients in modern laundry detergents are mostly unknown to consumers due to slack labeling requirements. You will find many warning and caution statements required by law. Concerns include cancer causing contaminants and hormone disrupting phthalates.
This is a short list which simply skims the surface of choices we make on a daily basis inside our own homes.

The fact is that we do have the freedom to make choices about what products we use. New products are emerging as safe, effective alternatives utilizing green chemistry. One such product is a probiotic household cleaner, which utilizes good bacteria similar to those in our digestive track to kill bad bacteria and eat away soap scum, mildew and stains. This is a wonderful alternative to antibacterial solutions which kill both good and bad bacteria contributing to the rise in resistant bacteria. As we look more closely at nature for our solutions, more exciting developments such as this are sure to transform the choices the next generation makes to handle spring cleaning.

For more information on probiotic household cleaners go to:http://betterchoices.mionegroup.com/en/product/16303

Bio Pure Probiotic Household Cleaner

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What we can learn from lead.

While you were ignoring the elephant in the room, a zoo moved in.

Just this month the CDC has decided that the current acceptable level for lead in children is too high. http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/health&id=8490910 This conclusion comes 40 years after the lead reduction to gasoline and paint.  While lead is regulated in many consumer products, it is still unregulated and widely used in lipstick.  The Environmental Working Group found that 1/3 of the lipstick they tested had lead levels above the FDA limit for candy. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/28/fashion/28skin.html  This year’s Healthy Child Healthy World’s “Mom on a Mission” has pioneered a feature length documentary highlighting the continuing problem with lead poisoning in children across America.  Watch a trailer of her film, America’s Secret Epidemic, at the following link: America’s Secret Epidemic

If lead is the big grey elephant in the room that has taken over 40 years to establish child safe levels, then we need to open our eyes to the entire zoo which has walking into our homes in the past 40 years without any similar safety levels for children.  Lead is a widely known and studied neurotoxin which has been around since 4000 BC.  Modern chemistry has created a whopping 80,000 chemicals in use here in the US, and the number is continuing to grow.  The EPA’s has had limited ability regulating even the most studied modern chemical toxins, such as Dioxane, Asbestos, or Formaldehyde.

We can not continue to live under the assumption that chemical ingredients are safe until proven harmful.  During the time period that we have let lead go unregulated, countless children and adults have been harmed.  When we are faced now with 80,000 chemicals untested for safety in children, we are not only living with an elephant, but with the entire zoo.  And even though there are a few animals which will prove to be totally harmless and even possibly friendly, don’t close your eyes to the lions, tigers and bears.  For some of these animals can cause fatal harm with only one chance encounter.

The Safe Chemical Act is currently before congress.  This legislation will help keep the zoo animals out of our kitchens and family rooms until they are proven safe.  It aims to place the burden of proof back on manufacturers and strengthen the backbone of government regulators.  I urge you to share this with everyone you know and contact your local representatives to let them know that you want them to support safer chemical regulation starting with The Safe Chemical Act.  To ask your representative for their support of The Safe Chemical Act go to http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6639/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6777.  For information on protecting your family from lead visit: http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadpdfe.pdf

To find lead free lipstick visit www.MiBetterChoices.com

For more on the Healthy Child Healthy World Mom on a Mission visit http://healthychild.org/get-involved/mom_on_a_mission/


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A Glass of Water with a Splash of Shampoo

 One of my favorite things to do around Earth Day is to visit my kids’ classroom and talk trash. To be more specific, I talk about decomposition and recycling. It is a lot of fun to pass around a banana that has decomposed for a couple of weeks and talk about how nature has a way of taking care of natural trash. Although the kids are usually most excited about a moldy black banana, the teachers’ eyes open wide when I mention that an aluminum soda can will remain in the landfill for 200 to 500 years, and a Styrofoam cup for almost eternity. Nature is wonderful at breaking down natural things, but our synthetic alternatives don’t naturally disappear like a banana.

There is something that seems very out of balance when we are willing to have a Styrofoam cup hang around for millions of years, when the coffee that was in the cup didn’t last more than ten minutes. Consider this same scenario in your personal care products. If you are choosing personal care products made with synthetic chemicals, guess what, they are going to be hanging around the environment for years to come. When you wash that sodium laureth sulfate, synthetic fragrance, paraben preservatives, or antibacterial Triclosan down the drain; they don’t just disappear.  

To take it a step further, our waste water treatment facilities aren’t designed to remove the wide variety of chemicals we wash down the sink. So if you are on a municipal water system that treats and reuses waste water, you are getting many of those chemicals back through your shower and drinking water for another round as they cycle once again through the system. This problem has become so prevalent that these water contaminants have been given the acronym PPCPs for Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products in water analysis reporting. If this sounds less than ideal to you, then there are a few things you can do to improve this nasty waste cycle.

  1. Filter the water coming into your house with a good carbon filter and/or reverse osmosis system.
  2. Choose organic personal care products that abide by green chemistry principles.
  3. Support the Safe Chemical Act of 2011 to give the EPA authority to remove harmful chemicals from our environment.

Activated carbon water filters are an easy, inexpensive way to remove most drinking water contaminants. You can find whole house systems, as well as systems with water pitchers for drinking water. There are also carbon filters available which you can install in your shower and tub faucets. If you want to take it a step further, a reverse osmosis system will remove even more than a carbon filter alone. The reverse osmosis systems generally cost around $200 for the initial system, and then about $80 every 6 months for replacement filter.

Personal care products made from green chemistry, also known as sustainable chemistry, are designed with processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generatiMiessenceon of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, and use. Two benefits of products made from green chemistry are safer final products and reduced use of energy and resources. One personal care line that utilizes green chemistry principles is Miessence. The entire product line meets green chemistry standards, and the majority of products are certified organic to food grade standards. Products are created with 100% wind power, and support organic farmers from around the world.

Because personal care products created with green chemistry don’t include hazardous chemicals in the beginning, middle or end of the manufacturing process, the resulting consumer products are biodegradable and non-toxic. Green chemistry also eliminates the need and cost to treat what comes out of the “end-of-the-pipe.” Though consumers may pay a few dollars more up front for an organic personal care product, that purchase price includes the cost of the product over the entire life cycle. With green chemistry, no tax dollars are required to clean up contaminants in the water or subsidize health care costs related to toxic chemicals.

While choosing products made with green chemistry is an important choice for human and environmental health, it doesn’t remove the thousand of harmful chemicals that continue to be used and disposed of every day.  The current law designed to protect us from repeated exposure to harmful chemicals is out dated and ineffective.  Sen. Frank Lautenberg has introduced the Safe Chemical Act of 2011, which is designed to strengthen the government’s ability to protect families from harmful chemicals linked to serious health problems.  Supporting this new legislation is an important step to protect human health and our ecosystems.

When our kids inherit the earth, do we want it to resemble a home filled with lead paint,  asbestos and vinyl, or something less toxic and more sustainable.  This is the moral question parents continue to face.  We can’t just paint over the lead paint and tile over that vinyl floor.  In some ways the issue is really about civil rights.   Is clean air and water free from cancer causing agents a civil right to be protected for all generations?  If the answer is yes, then we have actions to take.

 For more on green chemistry go to www.epa.gov/gcc

For more on Miessence certified organic personal care products go to http://betterchoices.miessence.com

To find other ways to remove toxins from your home visit:

Healthy Child Healthy World http://www.healthychildhealthyworld.org/ and join their Mother’s Day Twitter Party

Mother’s Day Party Tweet Deets:
On Thursday, May 5th at 6pmPST/9pmEST we will be discussing easy, affordable, non-toxic ways to pamper moms naturally for Mother’s Day. We’ll talk about:
– The ugliest ingredients in beauty products that you should avoid;
– Easy DIY recipes for an at-home spa day;
– Ideas for turning your bathroom or bedroom into a relaxing get-away; and more!

For detail on the Safe Chemical Act of 2011 visit Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families http://www.saferchemicals.org/

or Watch this video about the Safe Chemical Act of 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dq55QvyN3a8&feature=player_embedded


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Miessence holiday gift ideas

Great gift ideas from Miessence

Support organic agriculture, negative carbon business practices, petroleum free products, and help bring the world closer to a sustainable future.  Your gift of Miessence is a gift that reflects your values and standards.  Share your love of organics.

ONEgroup Gift Certificates

 Teachers –  Give teachers a gift that will fit them perfectly, a Miessence Gift Certificate.  With values ranging from $25 to $200 you know they will be able to choose something they really want.

certified organic botanical perfumes

Tweens and Teens – Make the teen on your list feel extra special with hand crafted botanical perfumes.  For just $12.80 a trail size Miessence Botanical Perfume is personal and luxurious.  A little goes a long way and with the handy roller applicator, and it is easy to bring in your bag where ever you go.  USDA certified organic mean no hormone disrupting phthalates or other synthetics to disrupt their health and happiness.

Rejuvenessence Serum

Moms – Rejuvenessence Facial Serum was developed by Narelle Chenery as a gift for her own mom.  What better gift to give yours than this award-winning age defying serum.

Husbands and Fathers

Miessence Shave Essentials

The cold weather can dry men’s faces as well.  Give the men in your life Miessence After Shave Balm to hydrate and soothe their skin along with the moisture protection of the Rejuvenating Moisturizer.

 

 

 Little niece and nephew – Protect little hands arms and legs with the Miessence Baby Lotion (and it is not just for babies).  Certified to food grade standards with organic raw coconut oil and organic vanilla extract, it makes little skin soft and almost edible.

Miessence Baby Lotion

 

 

Best friend

Darling Salt Glow Body Scrub

What better way to treat your closest friend with than this limited edition hand and body scrub. Miessence Darling Salt Glow is specially formulated for the holidays with salt sourced from Australia’s troubled Murray-Darling Basin, organic coconut oil and delicious organic citrus and spice essential oils.


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Sick of the Pink

This month the stores are filled with more pink than an elementary school girl’s bedroom.  I have nothing against the color pink, it is actually a color that I enjoy.  I have nothing against supporting the fight against breast cancer and better yet, preventing it.  What makes me sick to my stomach is the deceptive marketing that is blasting pink colored products in every direction during the month of October.  I am talking about the practice now know as pinkwashing.

What is pinkwashing?  It is a marketing scheme that taps into the emotional desire to do something about breast cancer and in effect gets us to buy a product with a pink ribbon, pink packaging, or in a pink bottle.  What is the problem with all of this pink?  As Breast Cancer Action so perfectly states, most people aren’t in the frame of mind to “Think Before You Pink.”  The reason we need to stop and think is that our good intentions may be contributing little if no money towards preventing breast cancer, and might actually be supporting the disease itself.

With the impulse to buy that next pink frying pan or hair brush, ask a few questions:

  • How much money actually goes towards breast cancer programs and services?
  • What do these programs look like?
  • Where is the money going?
  • What is the company doing to assure the public that their products aren’t actually contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

 

I recently encountered a pinkwashing marketing campaign by Proctor and Gamble.  They have wrapped beauty, giving back and cancer causing chemicals all up in a pink ribbon.  Herbal Essence Color Me Happy Shampoo and Conditioner, Olay Ribbons body wash and Gillette Venus Spa Breeze razors are all bright pink this month for breast cancer awareness.  Their marketing department has chosen to present these pink products to us with the slogans, “Giving is beautiful” and “There’s beauty in giving back.”  What they fail to include is that according to the Environmental Working Group’s report, these products “give” us a toxic cocktail of cancer causing chemicals.  

The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database reviewed the ingredients in Clairol Herbal Essences Color Me Happy Shampoo.  In its ingredient list they identified certain ingredients linked to cancer contaminants such as cocamidoprophyl betaine. Olay Body Wash Plus Lotion Ribbons didn’t fair much better with ingredients like DMDM Hydantoin, linked to formaldehyde contamination, and PEG-90M linked to organ and developmental toxicity.   Fragrance also listed as an ingredient in these products is a “trade secret” ingredient that can include many undisclosed hazards and often has been shown to contain phthalates, a hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen.

The bottom line is when buying a product in support of breast cancer prevention, make sure that it is part of the solution and not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that the color pink equates corporate responsibility or charity.  In honor of those who have died from breast cancer and in support of those who are battling a brave fight this very day, let’s all think before we pink this month and be part of the solution.

To find out what is in other pink personal care products go to the Skin Deep Database at http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/

To find out more about the Think Before You Pink campaign and Breast Cancer Action visit http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/

To find personal care products free of cancer causing ingredients go to http://betterchoices.mionegroup.com/


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Back to School – Hip Hip Hooray!

Better Choices Greening Back to School Tips and Hits  

No matter how many camps, trips to the beach and dips in the pool you fit into a summer, there comes a point when everyone is ready to go back to school.  Whether it is the cooler nights and changing leaves, or the new backpacks and pencils, the beginning of fall is filled with anticipation of a new academic year and a new chance to excel.    

Kids early on pick up the signals that back to school means time to buy new stuff.  From the latest lunch box styles to school supply lists, the first greening tips is to REUSE.  A quality backpack will most likely be outgrown before it is worn out.  Toss it in the laundry with a load of like colored towels and you will be amazed at how much of last years grime can be removed.  Think it still needs a new look?  Find a local embroidery business to add some graphics or personalize it with a monogram.  If your child has outgrown anything from backpacks to coats and boots, consider donating them for reuse.  When purchasing new school supplies look for items that can easily be reused and minimize unnecessary waste.  

 Some of my favorite back to school better choices are:  

L.L. Bean backpack

 

 L.L. Bean Original Book Packs 

 These backpack are made to last a lifetime.  They can start with your kids as diaper bags and last through college and beyond.  Personalize them with a monogram, or add patches from your travels to national parks and museums.  www.llbean/backpacks.com 

Dabbawalla Monkey Do Lunch Bag

 

Dabbawalla Lunch bags  

Dabbawalla bags are designed with kids and the environment in mind.  These bags are made from an eco-sponge fabric that has earned the Oeko-Tex 100 standard of safety in textiles, an ecological certification process testing for over 100 harmful substances.  Bags are designed to be kid size friendly and super cute.  They are insulated, washable, and sewn by workers earning fair wages in safe work conditions.  What’s not to love.  www.dabbawallabags.com  

   

India Tree Decorations

India Tree Natural Decorating Colors and Sugar 

 Every month of the school year contains multiple celebrations.  Between birthday parties and holiday celebrations, kids like to celebrate with cake, cookies, ice cream and lots of sprinkles.  Trying to celebrate without artificial colors used to be a challenge.  Now you can make those pumpkins orange and hearts extra pink with India Tree vegetable derived colors and sprinkles.  www.indiatree.com  

Miessence Purifying Skin Essentials

 

Miessence Purifying Skin Care  

Back to school for teens can mean confronting challenging skin conditions.  There is nothing like a clear complexion to boost confidence.  unfortunately, many over the counter and prescription drugs for acne can have serious side effects.  Miessence Purifying range of skin care products offers teens certified organic skin care that is as pure as it is potent.  Start with the basic skin essentials pack and then add a purifying Mineral Mask, or purifying Blemish Gel.  www.MiBetterChoices.com  

   

Kleen Kanteen Sippy Cup

 

Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottles  

After testing many stainless steel bottles, it is always the Klean Kanteen that comes out on top.  With both sippy cup and sports cap style lids, there are styles and colors to please your preschooler and high schooler alike.   The introduction of the wide insulated bottles means you can enjoy hot and cold liquids for hours after leaving home.   Made from 18/8 stainless steel and BPA free.  www.kleankanteen.com  

ReSnackit

 

ReSnackIt reusable sandwich bags  

These reusable bags help eliminate the need for plastic sandwich and snack bags.  Since they are phthalate, PVC, lead and BPA free, they are also a healthier storage option.  Suitable for both dry and wet snacks, these fun colorful prints might make that bag of carrots way more appealing. www.resnackit.com  

Lands' End Navigator Rain Jacket

 

   

  

Lands’ End Packable Navigator Rain Jacket  

Nylon is a great alternative to PVC raincoats.  This lightweight nylon jacket packs into its own pocket making it easy to have on hand “just in case.”  The hip length and full hood do a great job at keeping the rain at bay.  www.landsend.com  

   

Jaffa Lip Balm

 

Jaffa Certified Organic Lip Balm  

Colder weather and runny noses can leave little lips dry and red.  Keep a Miessence Jaffa Lip Balm on hand for each member of the family.  Let the kids personalize their own with a few stickers to keep them from getting mixed up.  This certified organic lip balm nourishes lips with the world’s first and only fair trade certified organic shea butter.  www.MiBetterChoices.com


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3 Gates of Entry: Nose, Mouth, Skin

 

As parents we strive to make our homes safe havens for our children.  When they are toddlers, we invest in gates to prevent falls down the stairs and plugs to keep fingers out of electrical outlets.  These are visual hazards that we are all well aware of, but our attention to the stealth environmental hazards of modern household products is recently gaining greater attention.  The latest research indicates that many common household products are made with toxic chemicals that are capable of harming our children’s health and well-being.  There is a direct relationship between our environment and our health.  These health effects include birth defects, cancer, and psychological disorders which emerge later in life. 

Hazardous chemicals are making their way into babies before they are even born.  A study by the Environmental Working Group tested the umbilical cord blood from 10 American babies for 300 chemicals.  An average of 200 chemicals and pollutants were found, including known carcinogens, neurotoxins and hormone disruptors linked to birth defects.  Imagine if the blood was tested for the 80,000 chemicals used today in manufacturing consumer products.  What would have been found then? 

Parents often assume that if a product is available on a store shelf for consumers, it has been tested and proven safe for our families.  Unfortunately the out dated Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 has allowed manufacturers to self regulate their products for consumer use. In its 34 year history, the TSCA has resulted in safety assessment of only 200 chemicals out of the 80,000 chemicals used to date.  Additionally, safety guidelines are based on toxicity levels for a 155 pound man and don’t consider the lower tolerance levels of children and unborn babies.  

Children are biologically and behaviorally more vulnerable to household toxins.  Children ingest three times more food, and drink seven times more liquid than adults do in proportion to their body size.  Their organs and blood brain barrier are not fully developed leaving their bodies with limited defenses against chemical hazards.   Children also spend a great deal of time on the floor, where pesticides can be tracked in by our shoes.  They place a variety of household items from toys to shoes in their mouths.  A new law, the Safe Chemicals Act, is attempting to reform our chemical laws to better protect children.  To find out more about the Safe Chemicals Act and encourage support from your state representatives, go to www.ewg.org and join the Kid Safe Chemicals Campaign. 

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 80% of diseases are due to environmental hazards.  Changes in our home environment can lessen our overall body burden of harmful chemicals.  Since young children spend more hours a day in the home than most adults do, simple changes in the home can have significant benefits.  To eliminate environmental hazards in the home, start with the most common ways that toxins make their way into the body: through what we eat, what we put on our skin, and the air we breathe.  Focusing on these 3 Gates of Entry can help parents monitor and reduce exposure to many household hazards.  Fortunately, there are many resources available to help parents though this process.  Here are a few suggestions: 

Ingestion: what we eat and drink 

Certified organic and natural foods provide the highest concentration of nutrients with the lowest exposure to pesticides, herbicides and fungicides  Research has found that organically grown foods have up to 30% more nutritional value than conventionally grown versions. Choosing organic foods from the The Dirty Dozen list of most contaminated fruits and vegetables can eliminate up to 80% of the pesticides ingested by food.  For more on The Dirty Dozen list of most contaminated foods visit www.foodnews.org . Filtering water with activated carbon systems will remove most organic carcinogens, neurotoxins, hormone disruptors, and many other contaminants that our municipal water purification centers were never designed to remove.  Choosing safer cooking methods like stainless steel pans rather than non-stick, and microwaving with glass rather than plastic can also help eliminate such chemicals as hormone disrupting plasticisers and perfluorinated compounds from invading our foods. 

Absorption: what we use on our skin 

A chemical used on the skin can end up in our blood three times faster than if it was ingested.  Our skin is not only the largest organ our body uses to eliminate toxins, but also a highly absorbent membrane that allows chemicals an open path to our blood, organs and fat cells. Children’s skin is more permeable than adults with a larger surface area per pound of body weight.  Personal care products utilize over 10,000 chemicals and only 200 have undergone any type of safety testing.   Tests have found both formaldehyde and 1-4, dioxane (known carcinogens) in 61% of children’s bath washes.  For safer alternatives, look for personal care products that are certified organic to food grade standards and display a government organic seal such as the USDA.  For more on certified organic skin care go to www.MiBetterChoices.com

Inhalation: what we breathe 

EPA studies have found that indoor air quality is worse than outdoor air quality, no matter where you live.  Fragrances from air fresheners, soaps, perfumes, fabric softeners and many other products we use in the home place a wide range of chemicals into the air.  Ingredients in fragrances are not required to be disclosed because they are considered a “trade secret.”  Hormone disrupting phthalates, which have been banned by the EU since 2003, are still prevalent in perfumes and fragrances here in the US.  Many products such as plywood cabinetry, plastics, paints, and upholstery foam all release chemicals into the air as they “out-gas” in our homes.  To reduce the levels of indoor air contaminants, go certified organic or fragrance free, look for no-VOC products, open the windows as often as possible, and add living plants to your home. 

For more on ways to reduce your exposure to household environmental hazards visit these helpful sites: 

NRDC – “Simple Steps” is exactly what it sounds like, a great resource providing simple steps towards better health and sustainable living.  The page on Home & Garden is especially helpful for removing household toxins. www.simplesteps.org 

Healthy Child Healthy World is a leading organization for providing parents resources for protecting children from everyday toxins.  Check out their handy pocket shopping guides, Quick Tips, and watch “A Wake Up Story” www.healthychild.org 

The Environmental Working Group offers information on the latest research and legislative action.  Check your personal care products out on their Skin Deep Database to find out if your products are safe for you and your kids www.ewg.org 

Better Choices offers green product & book reviews, information on avoiding toxins, and green event listings at www.better-choices.info  For a list of toxic ingredients in personal care products go to www.MiBetterChoices.com 

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References: 

“10 Americans” Environmental Working Group http://www.ewg.org/kid-safe-chemicals-act-blog/kid-safe-chemicals-act-10-americans-video/ 

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Report: “Toxic Chemicals Found in Kid’s Bath Products’, March 2009 http://www.ewg.org/report/toxic-tub/31209 

Chemical Free Kids by Dr. Sarah Lantz, Joshua Books, 2009 http://www.chemicalfreeparenting.com/order.htm 

Slow Death by Rubber Duck by: Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie, Counterpoint, 2009 

World Health Organization:Preventing disease through healthy environments: Towards an estimate of the environmental burden of disease http://www.who.int/quantifying_ehimpacts/publications/preventingdisease/en/index.html 

The Organic Center: State of Science Review: Nutritional Superiority of Organic Foodshttp://www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/5367_Nutrient_Content_SSR_FINAL_V2.pdf 

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Imagine a business opportunity… 

that rewards your spirit, 

stretches your mind, 

nourishes your body, 

And leaves the world a better place 

 www.better-choices.biz