It's that scary time of year again and while the spooks will be out on Halloween night, it's what's lurking inside your home that might actually be more frightening.
From PVC to parabens, here are a few ways to help create a safe, atoxic environment for your kids.
First off is PVC. You know that 'new shower curtain smell'? Well that's polyvinyl chloride, otherwise known as PVC or vinyl. PVC contains harmful chemicals, including phthalates, lead and cadmium which can be toxic to a child's health. Phthalates and other toxic additives can leach out or evaporate into the air over time causing potential danger to children. That's why PVC is called the poison plastic.
A recent study commissioned by the Centre for Health, Environment and Justice found that one PVC shower curtain can release as many as 108 volatile organic chemicals into the air. Some of these chemicals can cause developmental damage as well as damage to the liver and central nervous, respiratory, and reproductive systems. PVC has even been linked to autism.
A recent Swedish study published in Scientific American found that infants or toddlers who lived in a bedroom with vinyl or PVC flooring were twice as likely to have autism five years later than those with wood or linoleum floors.
In addition to shower curtains and flooring, PVC is found in everything from mini-blinds to lunch bags. The best thing is to seek out PVC-free products - and there's lots out there. This alternative chlorine-free EVA shower curtain features funky bright gerber daisies and for lunch bags, you can't beat this chemical-free neoprene apple lunch bag.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is another nasty chemical to avoid. It's found in polycarbonate plastic, which is the material most plastic water bottles, baby bottles and food containers are made from. Recent research has shown the chemical, which mimics the hormone estrogen and is a known developmental, neural and reproductive toxicant, can leach from bottles or containers into the contents. Water at room temperature leaches a little BPA - boiling water, 55 times as much. Animal studies have linked low levels of BPA to hyperactivity, learning disabilities, early onset of puberty, increased diabetes risk, age-related neurodegenerative diseases, and certain cancers, including breast cancer.
So play it safe and clear out your cupboards. Replace all that tupperware with non-leaching stainless food storage containers or buy glass dishes and use freezer- and oven-safe BPA-free eco food covers (why buy endless saran wrap?). Certified BPA-free water bottles or non-leaching stainless steel bottles are an undeniable must.
Then there's parabens. Increasing concern for the safety of the wide use of parabens – synthetic preservatives – in cosmetics and lotions has made natural products more popular than ever. Potential links have been reported between parabens, which research has shown can mimic the action of the female hormone estrogen, and cancer. Check for parabens listed in the ingredients on your moisturizers and all your beauty products. There's loads of different kinds, methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl- and benzyl- and they can all interfere with your hormonal systems and more.
As a healthy alternative, try 100% paraben-free natural body butter made in Canmore, Alberta or what about all natural apple blossom deodorant? (It really does work.) And for the wee ones, choose paraben-free body wash/shampoo and natural baby bum spray.
It's true we've been living with these chemicals for years but knowing what we know now, for the good of our health and that of our kids, can we afford to live with them any longer?
If you have any thoughts or ideas about scary things to be aware of inside your home, please feel free to leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you! Visit Lavish & Lime for more non-toxic and eco-friendly ideas for your home.