Thursday, March 27, 2014

PARENT BEWARE: Your dry cleaning, toys, pretty lawn, and even your tap water may be poisoning your child's mind

Are toys, dry cleaning, and pretty lawns dangerous to your kids? Maybe, maybe not, but the evidence is certainly mounting.

According to a recent Harvard study, common chemicals in your house can wreak havoc on your child’s brain development. These toxic chemicals may be responsible for neurodevelopmental problems such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, but they may also be the culprit behind harder to pin down problems like slower development, lower math scores, hyperactivity, poor motor skills, aggressive behaviors, or just simply brains that never realize their potential.

The study is not conclusive, but there is plenty of evidence connecting neurodevelopmental issues and toxic chemicals found in dry cleaning, flame retardants (used on furniture, toys, and clothing), pesticides commonly sprayed on lawns, and even tap water.

I’ve long said in reference to my own son’s autoimmune disorder and the neurodevelopmental issues that plague plenty of kids I know, that the cause is right under our nose. Many of these conditions have increased as more and more wonder-chemicals and artificially-created additives infiltrate our lives  leading, at least this mom, to believe there is an obvious connection. I think one day we’ll look back, as we do now with cigarettes, and think “duh, we were killing ourselves.”

With the Harvard study, even more dots are being connected between our society’s free and easy use of chemicals and the behavioral and learning problems that grow ever more prevalent in our kids. We readily accept all the new ‘advances,’ never thinking to look behind the curtain. Doesn’t our lawn look lovely? What? There’s no proof that chemicals cause….you-name-the-problem.

This is not a situation unique to the US or to developed nations. The Harvard study labels this a global problem in need of a global solution.

While the lobbyists crank it up to full gear and the skeptics attempt to quiet down the Harvard minds, we as parents would be wise to see this evidence as the canary in the coal mine it is. What can you do?
Don’t spray pesticides blindly on your lawn. This one’s easy. A few dandelions are not much to suffer in exchange for your child’s unencumbered brain development. Besides risking your child, pesticides kill bees and other beneficial insects, as well as poison our drinking water and air.

Keep your children away from dry cleaning. When you pick up the dry cleaning, put it in the trunk. When
you get home, take the plastic off and air out your clothes a bit before bringing them in the house. And save the picking-up-the-dry-cleaning errand for a time when you don’t have kids in the car. Another option is to wash your clothes at home and pull out the old iron. I have a silent but understood no-ironing clause in my wedding vows, so I’d be a hypocrite if I said this is my plan, but perhaps you are a better parent than I.

Consider carefully before you purchase flame retardant covered furniture, toys, and clothes. I know it’s hard to get away from the flame retardant coated jammies (kind of ironic that the government mandates that we poison our children’s clothing), but at the very least wash them with hot water before letting your children wear them and at the very most – consider some non-traditional sleepwear. Boxers and a t-shirt have always been the sleepwear of choice for the men in this house. (Sometimes my teenagers just sleep in their clothes because changing is such a taxing chore. So who needs jammies, really?) If you have a toddler or infant in the house, be sure to wash new toys carefully and read the labels – look for toys that have not been infused with flame retardants.

Have your tap water tested. I give this advice warily. I know there are plenty of water testing companies outinformation here. What should you be testing for? Here’s a short list of the newly identified neurotoxins from the Harvard study – manganese, fluoride, chlorphyrifos, DDT, tetrachloroethylene, polybrominated diphenylethers.
there looking to make money off your fears. Find a reputable company you trust or better yet, have your water tested through your extension service. In PA, you can find

It has long been clear to me that as our society has developed and more chemicals have entered our lives, our health has deteriorated. It has also become clear to me that we cannot rely on our government to protect us from these risks. I do believe there are some political leaders out there who truly care about the people, but they seem to be increasingly outnumbered. We must do our own homework when it comes to protecting our family’s health and not leave it to a government that is beholden to the people who hold the purse strings (which would not be us).

But don’t take my word for it, read the study yourself.



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