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Childproofing? Don’t forget to greenproof, too!

Childproofing? Don’t forget to greenproof, too!

January 29, 2014

By Carly Harrill, Healthy Child Staff

Childproofing is a family universal. There are electrical outlets to cover, medicine cabinets to lock, and knives and other potentially sharp materials to stash far from prying fingers. All of this is critical, but for the majority of families, this is where the process begins and ends. Which is too bad, because it misses out entirely on the many environmental hazards to safeguard against—think of it as greenproofing.

Environmental toxins have a disproportionately large effect on babies and kids; children’s developing bodies are much more vulnerable to the cellular havoc they can wreak.

Some greenproofing comes easily. It’s pretty simple to banish synthetic pesticides and to replace chemical cleaning products with non-toxic alternatives. Done and done. The real trick lies in tackling less obvious dangers like these:

  • Wipe surfaces. Dust is the final resting place for many of the toxins in our home’s environment. Remove as much as you can with a damp cloth not a duster—these just spread the dust around instead of trapping it. If the cloth contains a plant based cleaning product, all the better. Then keep up with future dust accumulations.
  • Get rid of your non-stick cookware. Its coatings can emit perfluorochemicals, another class of endocrine disruptors. Use cast iron, stainless steel, or enamel coated cast iron instead.
  • Perfluorochemicals are also found in stain-resistant fabric treatments. Get some tight-weave slipcovers for any furniture that’s received them. If buying new, don’t ask for stainguarding treatment.
  • Banish chlorine. The chlorine in dishwasher detergent, laundry bleach, and treated tap water is easily volatized into inhalable vapors when heated. Use a drinking water filter, a bath/shower filter, and chlorine-free products to keep it out of young lungs and bodies.
  • Test your tap water and filter accordingly.
  • Make a clean sweep of your bathroom cabinet. Unless you have an all-natural personal care routine, the conventional products you’re using are filled with unhealthy chemical ingredients.
  • Get in the habit of “cleaning” your indoor air by opening windows for at least 10 minutes a day even in the winter. The EPA says that indoor air can be 3 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air, even in an urban environment.
  • Remove the foam pads under your area rugs. They’re a key source of toxic flame retardants that can interfere with the endocrine system. Replace them with natural latex no-skid versions.

Here are a few other ideas from some like-minded bloggers:

Jennifer at Healthy Choices Happy Tots reminds those of us living in homes built before 1978 to be on the lookout for flaking paint that could contain lead. When it comes to traditional childproofing, she also suggests choosing cabinet locks, corner guards, and outlet covers free of BPA, PVC, and phthalates.

Generation Pure’s Certified greenproofer, Natalia Lazarus, says not to forget baby’s bedroom furniture, which can off-gas toxins and release flame retardant chemicals. She recommends an organic, Greenguard-certified mattress and organic bedding.

Have any additional greenproofing ideas? Add them in comments.

Changes like these will keep your baby safer—and they’re great for the rest of the family, too.

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