Saturday, May 17, 2014

Polluting Our Unborn Babies One Beauty Product At a Time

Lately I have been talking a lot about how important it is to really make an effort and reduce your exposure to chemicals when pregnant.  Think about it; in the +/-40 weeks that a baby is inside of you it goes from 2 cells to a full human baby..... it is complex and amazing to see how quickly a fetus develops:  FROM TWO CELLS TO A HUMAN BABY!  However, the reality is that exposure to any one toxic chemical during this time of rapid and essential development  can have a big impact on your baby- so what can happen to a baby when it is exposed to over  200 chemicals (286 chemicals is the average number of chemicals found in newborn cord blood) ?

Sometimes the results of exposure are seen immediately at birth or during early childhood (ie:  increases in undescended testicles, increases in autism and behavioral disorders etc), and sometimes the impacts aren't seen until decades later (breast cancer, among other diseases).

How is is that babies are being born, essentially,  polluted? Unfortunately, and to the horror of most mothers,  it's really the mom's fault.  Every product that a pregnant woman uses on her body, everything that a pregnant woman eats, every breathe that a pregnant woman takes exposes her baby to both good and bad things.

To better understand what this means, Healthy Child Healthy World developed an infographic that shows how many mother-to-be's are exposing their unborn babies to dangerous chemicals through their beauty routines, and how easy it is to make small changes in our routines to protect our babies... like we always say at Non-Toxic Munchkin:  the key is to make small easy changes that will slowly become part of our life! (if you have trouble reading the fine print click on this Healthy Child Healthy World link).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

17 Everyday Chemicals Linked to Breast Cancer and How To Avoid Them

Breast Cancer.  Just about everyone I know knows someone who has been affected by breast cancer; in fact it is leading cause of death in women from their late 30s to their early 50s.  Not only are more than 200,000 women diagnosed in the US each year, but it is being diagnosed in younger and younger women.  If you are a woman or have daughters, breast cancer prevention should be a priority.

Most doctors will agree that an increase in such little time cannot be due solely to genetic factors (and breast cancer cases linked to the ‘breast cancer gene” account for only 5-10% of all cases)... so what is causing breast cancer?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Organic vs conventional: EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Everyone always asks if I buy only organic produce.  The answer?  No! Not all fruits and vegetables are treated with the high levels of harmful pesticides, and thus, not all fruits and vegetables expose us to these harmful chemicals. 

Buying organic is so expensive that it really saves to have a clear idea of what fruits and veggies you should buy organic and which ones you can buy conventional.   This is why the Environmental Working Group’s yearly Shopper's Guide to Pesticides is so useful.  EWG  ranks pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables, based on their analysis of more than 32,000 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal Food and Drug Administration.


Pesticides are a collective term for chemicals intended to kill unwanted insects, plants, molds, and rodents.  

The main way by which children encounter pesticides is through food.

Although the current levels of pesticide residue found in individual fruits and vegetables have been deemed safe by the EPA, the question still remains about the cumulative effects (ie:  my 4 year old son can eat an entire package of blueberries in a sitting and could eat a package a day), especially on young children and unborn babies being exposed through their mother’s diets.

According to the EPA ”Pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth. Another way pesticides may cause harm is if a child's excretory system is not fully developed, the body may not fully remove pesticides. Also, there are "critical periods" in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual's biological system operates.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics adds that “Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems (like ADHD, among others)”

To be clear: the benefits that come from eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweighs the potential risks of ingesting pesticides through them.  Organic fruits and vegetables do not have more nutrients than non organic produce- however if you can avoid exposing your family to bug and weed killers on a daily basis choose the organic version of the produce listed in the ‘Dirty Dozen’.  Stick to organic apples and strawberries (and the other dirty dozen) at home and you wont have to stress when your child eats a conventional apple at school.   


For the last couple of years apples have reigned as the ‘dirtiest’ (ie with highest pesticide residue) of all produce. Here is the list of the top 20 ‘dirtiest’  fruits and vegetables.   You can read the Full list at The Environmental Working Group’s website (which is an amazing website you should check out if anyway if you are interested in non-toxic living)

  1. Apple
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell pepers
  8. Nectarines (imported)
  9. Cucumber
  10. Cherry Tomatoes
  11. Snap peas
  12. Potatoes
  13. Hot peppers
  14. Blueberries (domestic)
  15. Lettuce
  16. Kale
  17. Plums
  18. Cherries
  19. Nectarines (domestic)
  20. Pears


The produce that was found to have the least amount of pesticide residue? Avocados!  So no need to spend $2.50 per organic avocado (that is what they cost at my local Whole Foods! Same goes for mangoes which carry a hefty price tag in NYC) 

The ‘cleanest’ (ie: those with the least pesticide residue) fruits are vegetables are:

  1. avocados
  2. sweet corn
  3. pineapples
  4. cabbage
  5. sweet peas (frozen)
  6. onions
  7. asparagus
  8. mangoes
  9. papaya
  10. kiwi
  11. eggplant