Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hold On To Your Kids

I just finished watching the dvd by Dr. Gordon Neufeld, the same title of his award winning book, Hold On To Your Kids.  Although I have read the book, revisiting the information as Dr. Neufeld spoke affected me even more.  There were many topics to quote, but this one seems most important to me at the moment.

" What is the most likely thing for a North American parent to do when a child misbehaves?.....Time Out.  Send the child away, which involves what?....Separation.  It says to the child that your behavior is more important than the relationship.  And it creates insecurity in a child which we have known for a while, a long time now, in developmental science that is absolutely essential for the unfolding of personality, health and well being."

If you haven't read Dr. Neufeld's work, I highly recommend it!  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Where to donate used toys?

For local East Bay places to donate toys....

Bananas (on Claremont Ave.) in Oakland

Childwatch at the Berkeley YMCA

Headstart programs

Many Foam Baby Products Contain Harmful Neurotoxins

I received a petition to sign from the group, MomsRising.  This has been in the news this week, but this is taken directly from their email.

 "This week I found out my son's car seat probably contains neurotoxins and carcinogens! (1)

I thought my little boy was safe when I buckled him into his cozy car seat.

But then I saw the news.  A study just published in the journal "Environmental Science & Technology” found that the majority of foam samples from baby products  (like car seats, changing pads, and infant carriers) were laced with toxic flame retardants shown to be neurotoxins and carcinogens. (2) Yikes!

After reading this information, my first instinct was to ransack my bedrooms and closets, and make sure not a single shred of foam was left in my house. But after a deep breath (well, maybe a few deep breaths), I realized there's a better, long-term solution, for all of us.

We need Congress to effectively regulate toxic chemicals in this country and make it easier for us to keep toxics out of our homes and lives.

*Please ask your U.S. Senators to immediately co-sponsor, and urge your leaders to support, the Safe Chemicals Act today!

When I read about this new foam study, I was super shocked that toxic chemicals are in so many children's products.  I was also blown away by the information about the double-dose of chemicals kids get through both touch AND through the air. (3) That means my asthmatic son is exposed to toxic chemicals through both his skin while he sits in his car seat AND through his lungs as he breathes the air around his car seat.

The neurotoxins and carcinogens in many flame-retardant foams aren't just in baby products, they're also in our couches and chairs.  In fact these toxins are so prevalent, a recent study found them present in nearly 100% of the U.S. population.  And these toxins have been shown to cause reproductive, thyroid, endocrine, developmental and neurological disorders including decreased fertility, birth defects, learning disorders, and hyperactivity in animal studies. (4)

(To learn about how to reduce your family's exposure to these chemicals, check out the information in the P.S. below.)

The Safe Chemicals Act is a much needed update to our not-so-current toxics legislation, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976. In 1976, we didn't know as much about how toxic chemicals can migrate into our bodies and accumulate causing health issues now or decades later. Under the outdated TSCA, the EPA has only been able to require testing of a few hundred of the 62,000 chemicals that have been on the market since TSCA was passed, a number that has increased to 85,000 chemicals today. (5)

Thirty-five years after this law was first passed, the Federal Center for Disease Control has found that every American carries hundreds of these chemicals through their blood and tissues. These chemicals aren't just in our bodies; they're in our babies too. Just last year, the President's Cancer Panel found over 300 contaminants in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. (6)  It's clearly time to update this outdated toxics law!

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have already spoken up for our kids and have come out in favor of toxic chemical reform, but now our leaders need to hear from you. (7)

Our kids deserve safe toys and car seats, and parents shouldn't have to worry about the products they buy.

Here's that link again to ask your Senator to cosponsor the Safe Chemicals Act:

And please pass this link along! We need lots of parents to speak up.  Together we can protect a lot of families and a lot of kids from harmful chemicals.

Together we are a strong voice for our families!

--Sarah, Claire, Kristin, Joan and the whole team

 P.S. Wondering how to reduce your family's exposure to this type of toxic chemicals?  Here are a few steps you can take:

1) Keep dust levels down by wet mopping and vacuuming with a HEPA filter
2) Purchase baby products and furniture filled with cotton, polyester, or wool instead of polyurethane foam
3) Avoid products that use polyurethane foam and have a TB117 label which likely contains chemical flame retardants
4) Contact manufacturers to inquire whether retardants were added to products

Some manufacturers state their products do not contain halogenated flame retardants, including (but always double check each product): BabyLuxe organic pads and mattresses, BabyBjorn baby carriers, OrbitBaby strollers and car seats, and Boppy nursing pillows.

You can read more about practical tips for reducing your family's exposure to toxins by going to these great sites:

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
Green Science Policy

(1) Freeman, Dan "Baby products contain toxic flame retardants, study says: Are kids at risk?," CBS News, May 18, 2011

(2) "Identification of Flame Retardants in Polyurethane Foam
Collected from Baby Products,"
  Environmental Science & Technology (PDF).

(3) Ibid.

(4) Green Science Policy Center

(5) The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011: Introduced Today, Legislation Would Protect American Families from Toxic Chemicals.

(6) Kristof, Nicholas, "New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer," New York Times, May 5, 2010

(7) "Pediatricians Urge Tougher Chemical Safety Law," CNN"