Toxic Toothpaste?

If you go to my kid’s bathroom you will find SpongeBob Square pants Toothpaste.  Why?  Because the kid’s love the taste, and it’s SpongeBob!  But just because the magical toothpaste gets my children to brush and keep their teeth healthy does it really mean the toothpaste itself is healthy?  Truth is there is alarming concern these days when it comes to our toothpaste.  If you are like most people the name brands Crest & Colgate are probably sitting in your bathroom.  So what possibly could be wrong with the toothpaste that we have all grown up on and love?  Have you ever read the label?  Like the majority of consumers these days I simply buy what works ignoring the label.  My assumption is it wouldn’t be available if it wasn’t safe.  WRONG!  Take a look at the label and you will find this:

Warning Keep out of reach of children under 6 yrs of age.  If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.

Isn’t it a little concerning that something we are putting in our mouths has a label with the words Poison Control Center?  Yes warnings are part of everyday life, but still this is concerning when it comes to my kids.  So since the ADA (American Dental Association) tells us this is good stuff than what could be the cause of this label?  Well let’s take a closer look at the ingredients, specifically sodium fluoride.  Fluoride as I brought to your attention in an earlier blog can be a good thing, in moderation.  The problem is manufacturers have begun to use this waste by product in so many things that we are becoming over exposed to it.  The result is leading to dangerous health issues, especially for our children.

So what is it about fluoride that makes it so dangerous?  Again in small doses it has been proven to help prevent and reduce tooth decay promoting healthy teeth.  In large doses side effects can include everything from fluorosis (decaying of the teeth) to death.  Researchers are finding links between overexposure to fluoride and brain development (lower IQ’s) as well as links to skeletal fluorosis, osteoporosis and many other health effects including increased risk for cancer.

So what is over exposure?  I thought that since I removed my son from the fluoride pill at school, quit using a fluoride rinse at home, and my water was on a private well not being treated that my children were safe from overexposure.  Then I took a closer look at the food intake of my kid’s.  Juice, Cereal, fruit, fluoride was in it all.

So how much fluoride is your child getting? Honestly it is hard to tell.  What I can tell you is that too much is dangerous to their health.  Personally I will be purchasing toothpaste without fluoride.  For me to simply remove the fluoride in the areas I know they are getting it is the best way to make sure they are not being over exposed.  Since my oldest son was already diagnosed with fluorosis I am aware that over exposure happens.  In fact the 1Center for Disease Control has reported that up 48% US school children have dental fluorosis.  This is the result of over exposure to fluoride!

Here is also an interesting note from an article I read

2Tony Lees, from Herefordshire, a dentist for 40 years, believes that fluoride should be banned from toothpastes and water. The marginal benefit it displays for teeth does not outweigh its general dangers, he says.

“In the scale of toxicity, fluorides fall between arsenic and lead,” he says. “Dental fluorosis is not just a cosmetic problem, but the visible sign of chronic fluoride poisoning, and children are more vulnerable than adults.”

I found this to be an insightful point in making my decision to pull fluoride from my toothpaste.  In the end I found there was enough negative remarks and controversy on fluoride to choose to avoid it when possible without going nuts over it.

For those wanting to make a change, Tom’s of Maine offers a children’s strawberry toothpaste without fluoride and Burt’s Bees offers a Natural Toothpaste Multicare without fluoride.

 

Skin as Soft as a Baby’s Bottom…

So the point of rubbing lotion all over our skin is to keep it from drying out and hopefully looking young and healthy.  The first thing I do the minute I step out of the shower is grab my lotion.  It has always been my thought that if I put it on right after I shower I can rehydrate my skin quickly.  After reading a recent article I found out that I may be doing more harm than good.  First of all, lotions like all other personal products can contain a large amount of toxins that are harmful to us.  Among those toxins many lotions also contain chemicals that can actually dry your skin out rather than hydrating it.  Checking ingredients is important in making sure that the lotion you are putting on your skin is not only non-toxic but also doing what it is intended for.  Here a few key ingredients you want to avoid:

Fragrance: Most chemicals used to make fragrances are not testing for harmful side effects.  Try choosing organic fruit lotions if you want a light scent.

Parabens – (butylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben, isopropylparapen) – This is a preservative that researchers are concerned with its link to breast cancer, as well as an endocrine disruptor affecting children. (Try using products that use GSE, grapefruit seed extract in place of parabens)

Methylene Glycol – A “formaldehyde solution” and since the FDA has formaldehyde listed as a carcinogen this should be taken seriously and avoided!

Mineral Oil – So much controversy on this one!  Good luck finding a product without.  I just felt the need to list it just because there is debate on its health risk.  Because it is derived from crude oil (yeah the stuff we get our gas from!) and crude oil contains benzene (which is a know cancer causing agent) there is potential for health risk.  It is said to be refined for cosmetic purposes so the possibility seems remote.  Many researchers are claiming that mineral oil is also robbing skin of its natural oils and actually drying it out instead providing moisture.

Acids – Listed many different ways from citric acid to salicylic acid, these acids may not be toxic but they can be damaging to your skin causing dryness if used in large amounts.

The bottom line is limit use of lotions to when necessary.  If your skin does not appear to be dry, then go without.  (This will be another bad habit for me to kick!)  The ending result is limiting our exposure to chemicals.  With so many things listed as ingredients these days it feels as if it is only a matter of time before each is deemed toxic!  I checked many of the chemicals on my bottles and if you look long enough you will find a link telling you it is all toxic.  The three main ingredient s that were most commonly mentioned as toxic are listed above.  My biggest suggestion is avoid fragrance and dyes when possible and proceed with caution.  I would rather avoid something if possible and not risk what may or may not be true of all these chemicals!  I did find that my Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance Free was on the toxic free list, hooray, finally I product I already used is a keeper!!!!

Another suggested toxic ingredient is sodium lauryl sulfate, read on if you wish: http://www.natural-health-information-centre.com/sodium-lauryl-sulfate.html this ingredient seems unavoidable if you ask me!

Again a little tip (for those who haven’t read the previous blogs!), go onto your favorite store’s website (mine is Walmart since I get my personal products there) and searched through lotions for you and your kids.  Most sites will list the ingredients so it gives you the opportunity to look at it at home instead of standing in the store for hours!  Also having the EWG to double check things is a handy tool.

Rub a Dub Dub, Be careful what you use in the tub!

Our skin is our largest organ, so doesn’t it makes sense to protect it?  Normally we think of sunscreen and lotion as the best defense to protect our skin.  Fact: choosing safe body soap is one of the most important ways to protect your skin and health.  Since most of us bath daily it is the one constant product we are exposing our skin to each day.  The big issue?  Many of today’s skin products are loaded with toxic chemicals, chemicals that have been linked to increase risk of cancer and other childhood illnesses.  So how harmful is rubbing toxic chemicals over your skin each day?

Very harmful!  In the past two decades, autism has increased 1500%, ADHD 400%, asthma 300% (with asthma deaths increasing by 56%) and allergies 400%.  Chemicals seem to be a common link to all of these illnesses, as well as childhood cancer.  When we hear the word chemicals many of us do not think of body soap.  The fact is it is one of our daily products we use that can contain dangerous chemicals.    It is important to choose safe soap for your family to help limit their exposure to dangerous chemicals.  The following are some of the harmful chemicals that may be in your body soap that you should avoid.

Fragrances – fragrances are not tested and are full of dangerous chemicals so unless the scent is listed as an actual fruit or vegetable it has the potential for all kinds of harmful chemicals

Parabens: (butylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben, isopropylparapen) – these are preservatives that researches are concerned with their link to breast cancer and as an endocrine disruptor in children.  (products that contain GSE, grapefruit seed extract, are much safer)

Methylene Glycol – a “formaldehyde in solution” and since the FDA has formaldehyde listed as a carcinogen this should be taken seriously!

DMDM Hydantoin – An allergen that has the ability to form cancer causing chemicals and also  concerns for this chemical as a skin irritant, especially important for those with sensitive skin

Other chemicals to limit exposure when possible are:

Triethanolamine (TEA)

Diazolidinyl Urea or Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate

Cocamidopropyl Betaine – skin irritant

Phthalates

Petrochemicals

(To read more on these chemicals visit one of the links below)

My advice is to check your bottles and make the switch if the chemicals above were in your soap.  Use your stores website to check out new products to see what ingredients are listed.  If you are a member of the EWG, the Skin Deep website can be beneficial to helping for those products that do not have their ingredients listed and also gives a rating on how safe the products are.  Avoiding all these chemicals is always a plus but if you at least reduce your exposure it is a start.  Each chemical you eliminate is one less in your child’s body.  Believe it or not there are safe products at most of the normal places we shop at, Walmart,Target, etc.  You just have to learn what is safe!

My favorites are, Johnson & Johnson’s Natural Kids 3 in 1 Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Wash for my kids and Eco Store Body Wash and

Aveeno Soap Bars for me!  Switching back to soap bars with no fragrance, no dyes and no parabens is a good start.  You will be amazed once you start shopping that there are quite a few products that actually state NO Parabens, No Dyes, No Fragrance right on the label!

 

These pages offer an extensive look at many chemicals in our personal products if you wish to read on! http://www.lesstoxicguide.ca/index.asp?fetch=personal

Hello world!

Sponsored by Children’s Cancer Recovery, Toxic Free Kids is a worldwide initiative to change the environment we live in for the sake of our children. Based on science, we believe we can actually prevent up to 90% of pediatric cancers by making simple, toxic free lifestyle choices.  Think of that: nine-out-of-ten childhood cancers prevented; that’s families never receiving a childhood cancer diagnosis, children never confined to a hospital bed for treatment and parents never losing their children to this horrible disease.

The goal of Toxic Free Kids is to provide all families with the information needed to make the change to toxic free living.  As parents we want what is best for our kids and with small changes to our daily living we can give our kids the healthy life they deserve.  We invite you to join us on this journey by going Toxic Free!

Wash Those Chemicals Out of My Hair!

As I make my way through this toxic free journey I have learned quite a bit.  The reason I call it a journey is because I, like most Mom’s, am BUSY!!  So going toxic free hasn’t happened overnight.  As I started my research on shampoo and conditioners, I had a suspicion that my hair products, like many other things, were not going to come out on the toxic free side of things.  Honestly my shampoo is one product that I thought would be difficult for me to give up.   In fact as I started this research I was thinking that shaving my head might be an easier fix than giving up my shampoo!

So what is so wrong with toxic shampoo, and what ingredients make shampoo toxic.  First, shampoo is something that comes into contact with your skin.  So if the shampoo contains toxins your skin is going to be exposed to anything in that shampoo.  Yes like anything a few times is harmless, but a lifetime of exposure can add up to CANCER, neurological disorders and endocrine issues.  Remember that the stuff we are exposing our kids to is taken in at faster rate.  With their developing bodies they do not have the ability to excrete toxins as quickly as we do and there for exposure is more harmful.  Let’s face it the skin is our largest organ so therefore it is the biggest area vulnerable for toxic exposure.  Washing our hair means contact with our skin which warrants caution about the products we are using.

Here are a few key ingredients that can be toxic and should be avoided in hair care products: (to learn more on these chemicals visit my Chemicals in Personal Products blog http://toxicfreekidsblog.org/2011/06/chemicals-in-personal-products/)

Methylisothiazolinone or MIT – Can affect neurological and nervous system ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE PREGNANT THIS CHEMICAL SHOULD BE AVOIDED! Researchers are concerned it can cause abnormal brain development in fetuses!  Also a great article on this

http://www.naturalnews.com/003210_personal_care_products_shampoos.html)

Parabens (butylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben, isopropylparapen) – This is a preservative that researchers are concerned with its link to breast cancer, as well as an endocrine disruptor affecting children. (Try using products that use GSE, grapefruit seed extract in place of parabens)

Methylene Glycol – A “formaldehyde solution” and since the FDA has formaldehyde listed as a carcinogen this should be taken seriously and avoided!

DMDM HYDANTOIN, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate – These chemicals are known allergens that have the ability to form cancer causing chemicals.    These chemicals are skin irritants, so those with sensitive skin should definitely avoid it!

Fragrances – Fragrances are not tested and are full of dangerous chemicals.  Unless the scent is listed as an actual natural fruit or vegetable there is potential for all kinds of harmful chemicals.

1,4-dioxane – This chemical is considered a probable carcinogen and should be avoided, especially in your children’s products.

Triethanolamine (TEA, DEA, MEA) – Can become a possible carcinogen when mixed with other chemicals and long term exposure is not recommended even by the FDA.

Phthalates ( Dibutylphthalate, diethylphthalate, DBP, DEP, also butyl ester)- chemicals used to soften that have been linked to problems with reproductive organs.

I do not expect you to memorize these chemicals, but become familiar with the names, or print off the list.  Check your products and make a change if necessary.  Also don’t be fooled by products that claim to be natural, these claims are normally false and most likely the products do contain chemicals!  Take the time and read the label to really know what is in your products.  If the ingredients are not listed there may be a good reason why the manufacturer does not want you to know what’s in it!  Hmm… I wonder why.

Also remember that going fragrance free and dye free are great ways to start avoiding unwanted chemicals.  My advice is to try to stay as close to chemical free as possible without driving yourself nuts!  Exposure here and there will happen but it is all the everyday items that start to add up over a lifetime.  Face it things are just not the way they use to be and in order to protect our families we have to make a few changes.  For me it is good bye to my favorite shampoo, oh how I will miss you.

Here’s a little tip, I went onto the Wal Mart Website (because that is where I get my personal products) and searched through shampoo for me and for the kids.  Some products listed their ingredients so it gave me the opportunity to look at them at home instead of standing in the store for hours!  Most I ended up double checking on the http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ to see all of the ingredients, but it was still better than standing in the store reading all the labels.  My picks are now Johnson & Johnson’s Natural Kids 3 in 1 Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Wash for my kids, and for me the Juice Organics line also available at Wal Mart (LOVE IT, BETTER THAN MY PANTENE SO NEEDLESS TO SAY I AM NOT SHAVING MY HEAD!).

 

Formaldehyde … What Is It?

Formaldehyde—also sometimes listed by its systematic name, methanol—is an organic compound that’s a colorless gas, characterized by a pungent odor. Found in a myriad of places, such as building materials (carpet, plywood, and insulation materials), cleaning products, and personal products (shampoo, conditioner, and even kid’s soap), it’s a chemical that definitely makes the “to be avoided” list.

What’s the problem with a little formaldehyde in your child’s body wash?

For starters, US Health and Human Services released in 2011 an updated list of “known carcinogens,” and formaldehyde made the list.

Beyond that, while you may believe that a little formaldehyde “here and there” isn’t an issue of concern, think about how much likely exists in your home when you add it all up. If you’re like most Americans, you’re exposing yourself to a vast amount of chemicals without even realizing it; your carpet, furniture, cleaning supplies, and personal products are just some of the sources that affect you and your family on a daily basis.

It’s true that you can’t control your air quality everywhere you go, but you can control that of your home. By making simple changes to limit your family’s exposure to formaldehyde, you reduce their risk for cancer.

How?

Simply take the time to read the labels of products you’re purchasing and be cognizant of avoiding this chemical. We know that complete elimination of any one toxic agent in your environment may be impossible, but limiting your exposure is not. Our series on personal products (shampoo, body wash, deodorant, lotion, and more) will help you tremendously; you may be surprised to learn that there are healthy, non-toxic products out there—you just need to know what you’re looking for!

Pesticides & Produce

Momma always said eat your fruits and veggies, not eat your pesticides! Pesticides increase our risk for cancer.  Over the years more and more pesticides are making their way into our food supply, especially our produce.  In the past I had thought that since I washed my fruits and vegetables, I was washing the pesticides off and it wasn’t a big deal to purchase organic fruits and vegetables.  Recently I found out that many pesticides find their way into our produce way beyond the skin of it.  No matter how much we wash or soak there is a certain amount of pesticides that cannot be removed in some produce.  As plants are growing and pesticides are spread, the plant will absorb the pesticides.  Once we ingest the plant, we ingest the pesticide and absorb it also.  This is especially dangerous for our little ones!

So what do we do?  It turns out that some produce has more pesticides than others and have been referred to as “The Dirty Dozen”.  We also have a group called “The Clean 15″ which are a group of produce that contain less pesticides.  These two groups can help to determine whether you want to purchase a particular fruit or vegetable organically or not.  While buying organic produce is the healthiest choice, buying everything organic for most of us in impossible.  I am a coupon clipping mama so I look at the numbers.  Also quite frankly I live in an area where organic is not as popular (YET!) so many items just are not available. My advice is to use the following lists to determine what to buy organic when possible and what can be picked up without going organic.

(I suggest printing off the list and tucking it in your coupon bag if you are unfamiliar with which ones to get!)

These are your “Dirty Dozen”, the Fruits & Vegetables Highest in Pesticides!

  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Peaches
  • Celery
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Cherries
  • Spinach
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Nectarines
  • Red Raspberries
  • Strawberries (contain the highest pesticide content of any fruit)

These are your “Clean 15”,  the fruits and veggies that rank low for detectable pesticides

  • Onions
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Watermelon
  • Eggplant
  • Mangoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Grapefruit
  • Cabbage
  • Kiwis
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas
  • Avocadoes
I realize that fresh fruit and veggie stands are popping up all along the countryside this time of year, and most of these fruits and veggies are what you are finding.  Get your fix by buying a big fat watermelon or cantaloupe and grabbing some fresh asparagus or sweet corn and avoiding the dirty dozen when possible.  Do not give up fruits and veggies, just remember to properly wash them to get off the pesticides on the outside and buy organic when possible.  Every bit we do to change is reducing our family’s risk for cancer and other diseases.

Reminders for Bottled Water

After researching the bottled water industry I realized if I want to know my water is safe then I should invest in a reverse osmosis system at my home and buy a stainless steel water container to cart it around (yep did that and the water is fantastic!).  For those of us that get caught without our stainless steel containers and are thirsty, here is how to decipher bottled water.

Yeah maybe it says glacier on the bottle, but chances are it is from a faucet at a water plant, there is no regulation on honesty!  So best thing to do is to get a brand that says it uses purified, reverse osmosis or micro-filtration, these types of filtrations get you close to no contaminants.   Also avoid waters that say “spring”, chances are it is not Rocky Mountain fresh, and typically this means it has not been filtered.  Do you really want “fresh” spring water these days with all the chemicals being dumped into our water ways….thinking the answer is NO!

As far as the bottle goes, most drinking bottles are a #1 plastic, #1 being safe.  That’s a good start, but now the problem is if the water was stored at excessive temperatures it now may not be so safe.  Heat can cause plastic to release toxins into the water.  Since we have no idea how the water was stored prior to us purchasing it, you are taking a chance on it.  Biggest thing is to make sure once it is in your hands YOU keep it safe.  If you are keeping bottled water at home remember to keep it in a cool place away from chemicals.  Never let water sit in a hot car and then recool! Also never wash, and reuse water bottles, again this can cause toxins to be released into your water as well.

To wrap it up, buy water that has been somehow purified in a #1 bottle.  Brands like Dansani, Aquafina, and Pure Life by Nestle are relatively safe bets.  If your water at home has been tested and is safe you should take it from home in a stainless steel container, this helps the environment and YOU!

Information from this blog was gathered from the following websites:

http://shine.yahoo.com/event/green/best-and-worst-bottled-water-brands-2436818/

http://www.rd.com/health/rethink-what-you-drink/2/