filed under: green family, green kids, health & body, kids health, toxins
Lead is a dangerous home pollutant that can lead to many health problems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that children exposed to even low levels of lead may experience learning disabilities, decreased intelligence and speech, language, and behavioral problems; all of which may affect children for a lifetime. Lead exposure among children is usually connected to lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating homes. You can prevent lead poisoning though with the following simple steps:
- Get your home tested for lead, especially if your home was built before 1978.
- Clean and dust often.
- Get your child tested for lead. Doctors can run an easy lead test on your child.
- Choose eco-friendly toys and lead-free play jewelry.
- Avoid play make-up for kids that contains lead.
- Discourage your child from chewing on stuff like window ledges and other painted products.
- Serve meals rich in iron and calcium, which will make you less susceptible to lead absorption.
- Use a water filter to reduce lead in drinking water.
- Avoid children’s food items that may contain unsafe levels of lead.
Mold seems natural enough, but mold is an official home pollutant. Mold is most common in wet climates, but can infest homes in dryer climates as well. Both children and adults can become very sick if exposed to mold in the home. Molds are known to cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Molds can also cause asthma attacks and irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of people without other allergies.
Once mold has started growing, it’s scary hard to get rid of. You don’t want mold to set up camp, because then we’re talking gross bleach or expensive professionals to get rid of it. The best defense against mold is to stop it before it starts, or gets out of control. This means cleaning walls and windows frames regularly with non-toxic cleaners, and be sure to dry the areas after cleaning them. If you live in a wet area, simply leaving windows open more often can fight off mold. Also, don’t place furniture right up against the wall, as it encourages mold growth. If your home experiences a water issue, i.e. like a basement or under the sink leak, fix it right away so mold doesn’t develop.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, but pungent-smelling gas used in all sorts of home products. Formaldehyde has been linked to numerous health problems, such as watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and breathing difficulty, plus research shows that it for sure causes cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans. Sources of formaldehyde exposure that can occur in the home include home building materials, cigarette smoke, household products (mainly furniture), and the use of un-vented, fuel-burning appliances, like gas stoves or kerosene space heaters.
Formaldehyde is most often found in pressed wood products made using adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins, and many of these products are made just for kids. For example, many pieces of children’s furniture, dollhouses and play kitchen sets are made with formaldehyde. To avoid formaldehyde, purchase real wood furniture and toys versus pressed-wood products. Real wood can be expensive, but you can also inexpensively refinish old pieces of furniture. Of course, never ever allow smoking inside your home, and if you must bring formaldehyde products indoors, be sure to increase home ventilation. Also buy eco-friendly children’s bath products, as many conventional products contain hazardous stuff, including formaldehyde.
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