Average Baby Exposed to Dozens of Potentially Unsafe Chemicals Daily
Four years ago, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) surveyed 3,300 parents and compared the baby products they used to lists of chemicals known to cause allergies, hormone disruption, damage to the nervous system, and cancer. Their review revealediv that children are exposed to about 27 chemical ingredients on a daily basis that have never been assessed for safety. Not by the industry, nor by the government. Examples of hazardous ingredients and baby products from that review include:
- 2 bromo, 2 nitropropane, and 3-DIOL: Can cause allergies and skin irritations. In certain products, these ingredients can also break down to form other cancer-causing agents
- Sodium borate, found in Desitin diaper cream, can accumulate in your child’s brain and liver, causing detrimental health effects
- Oxybenzone, a common ingredient in sunscreen, can trigger allergies, and may disrupt a child’s delicate hormone system
Interestingly, 89 percent of products labeled “Recommended by doctor” were found to be some of the worstoffenders, containing some of the most dangerous chemicals!
The 2007 EWG study also determined that:v
- 82 percent of children are exposed every week to one or more ingredients with the potential to harm the brain and nervous system.
- 69 percent of children are exposed every week to one or more ingredients that may disrupt the hormone system.
- 3.6 percent of children are exposed to ingredients with strong data linking them to cancer, including chemicals classified as known or probable human carcinogens.
- 80 percent of children’s products marked as gentle and non-irritating contain ingredients linked to allergies and skin or eye irritation according to government and industry sources.
Evaluate Ingredients Before You Buy
The issue of potential toxins lurking in shampoos, soaps, lotions, and other personal care products is a serious one, as your skin readily absorbs these chemicals, allowing them directly into your blood stream. When absorbed, they can actually do more harm than if you were to swallow them.
I strongly recommend switching over to organic brands of toiletries, including children’s personal care products. You can usually find a good variety at either your local health food store, or by searching online. Keep in mind that not all products marked “natural” or “organic” are in fact wholly natural or organic, as “greenwashing has become increasingly pervasive.
I highly recommend using the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep site to evaluate each product before settling on a purchase. The EWG is a nonprofit public-interest research group known for making connections between chemical exposure and adverse health conditions. Since its inception in 2004, their “Skin Deep” study has assigned health-risk ratings to thousands of personal-care products.
General Shopping Guidelines
Some general guidelines to keep in mind when purchasing personal care products include:
- Look for the genuine USDA Organic Seal.
- If you can’t pronounce it, you probably don’t want to put it on your body. Ask yourself, “Would I eat this?”
- Look for products that are fragrance-free. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds—even thousands—of chemicals and fragrances are a major cause of allergic reactions.
- Pay attention to the order in which the ingredients are listed. Manufacturers are required to list ingredients in descending order by volume, meaning the first few ingredients are the most prominent. If calendula extract is the last ingredient in a long list, your calendula body wash isn’t very natural.
- Stick to the basics. Do you really need 10 products to prepare for your day? Simplify your life and rescue your bank account by reducing the total number of products you use daily.
- Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic, since chemicals can leach out of plastics and into the contents. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a serious concern. Make sure any plastic container is BPA-free or there are shampoos in glass or shampoo soaps with no plastic.
- Look for products that are made by companies that are Earth-friendly, animal-friendly and committed to organic and sustainable business practices.
There is reason to be concerned about the numerous toxic chemicals you expose your children to on a daily basis, as each and every exposure adds to your child’s total, long-term toxic load.