“Children’s bodies are still immature and lack the ability to quickly clean up their chemicals and other substances,” said Professor Kimberly Ewlton, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
The main risk of chemicals is that they are inhaled or ingested. Chemical particles that enter the dust on the floor can be absorbed into the child’s mouth. One way to keep these chemicals away from your baby is to dust and vacuum.
Don’t panic and throw away every product of your own, but “be educated about what’s in your home,” Yolton advises. Look for these items:
Pesticides. Chemical bug killers have been linked to cancer, immunity and damage to the nervous system. One study found that boys who had a common household pesticide in their urine were twice as likely to have symptoms of ADHD. If you have any bug problems, use natural pest control products or sticky traps instead of chemical sprays.
Cleaners. Some home cleansing products contain harsh chemicals such as chlorine, formaldehyde and solvents that can burn the skin, irritate the eyes, damage the lungs and increase the risk of cancer with substantial exposure. Check out the Guide to Cleaning or Mother Earth’s Environmental Working Group to create a list of Green Scavengers.
Soaps, shampoos, detergents and creams. Every scented personal care product and plastic you buy contains a chemical called phthalates. Researchers do not know the full health effects of these chemicals, but preliminary research has linked them to cancer, reproductive problems and developmental problems. Use fragrance-free products or buy marked fat-free products instead.
Fire extinguisher. Sofa cushions, carpets, televisions – almost everywhere in your home you will see something treated with fire retardants. A class of hormones called polybrominated diphenyl yars (PBDES) can inhibit the body. Research has linked exposure to delayed development, puberty and other health effects in children. The companies have done PBDE in phases, but other flame retardant chemicals are still in use. Several retailers, including Crate & Barrel, La-Z-Boy, and IKEA, have removed all flame retardants from their furniture. If you don’t plan on buying new furniture, the foam doesn’t show off your existing sofas and chairs.