Move over lead, pesticides and asbestos, there’s presently some new chemicals that just might be poisoning your baby or toddler today. Bisphenol A and phthalates are just two new chemical substances that have been known to cause developmental and reproductive problems in children.
California is on the leading edge of limiting children’s exposure to these two chemicals from manufacturing standards, but as we all know, much of the manufacturing market is now performed outside the country. It will take informed, educated consumers to stop the flow of cheap toxic baby products and quite possibly, potential personal injury to our children.
So how prevalent are these chemicals in our society? Well, phthalates are “plasticizers” which means that it is an additive to make plastic more flexible. Pacifiers, teethers, rattles, baby bottles, cleaning products, plastic wrap, just to name a few. The biggest problem is that the chemical bonds are not that strong, so when items like bottles are heated in the microwave or dishwasher, toxins are leached out into the bottles’ contents or directly onto the skin.
Bisphenol A is added to plastic to make it both clear and shatterproof. Progress is sometimes a double-edged sword. Toys, food containers, plates, cups-all of these products are there to make our lives a little easier, but as we are now finding out, there is a price to convenience.
Both of these chemicals are not only proven carcinogens, but they are chemicals that obstruct normal growth and development and interfere with hormonal effects as well. Moreover, the National Institutes of Health has concluded that bisphenol A does not only have adverse effects on child development but on neural effects on infants and children. Scientists agree that these chemicals have some impact on humans, especially young babies and toddlers, but they disagree how much is too much. The answer is basically we don’t know at this point. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics is warning parents to purchase baby products without these two additives.
Here are a few parental safety tips:
· Look for “phthalate” and “bisphenol A” free baby bottles or use glass bottles · Use powdered formula instead of cans that may be lined with plastic containing these chemicals · Avoid plastic containers that have the identification “7” inside the recycling symbol on the label. This usually means that it can leach BPA. Look for plastics marked “1” or “plastic #1” instead.
· Look for natural baby wipes, shampoos, powders and lotions. However, be aware that the FDA does not require manufacturers to put phthalate ingredients on their labels.
· Look for wood or cloth toys rather than plastic.
· Limit your child’s exposure to indoor toxins · Use natural cleaning products, wherever possible.
This year parents and consumer groups have been lobbying congress to repair the broken safety net known as the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Ideally, this group is there to warn us of potential safety hazards. Finally in March 2008, the Senate passed a comprehensive CPSC proposal to fund a publicly accessible database to help parents and other consumers to identify toxic toys, poisonous plastic products, and many of the over 9 million recalled products. In addition, there will be alternative product options for more healthy choices as well.
Lastly, the bill will give the CPSC recall authority; initiate a toy safety standard, include a phthalate ban, and provide greater civil and criminal penalties for manufacturers who violate the laws.