Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Apple, Target & Walmart Scored a's but why did Nordstroms, Starbucks and Trader Joes Score Fs? What are Your Favorite Stores Doing to Protect You From Chemicals?



Wondering if you favorite stores  are taking any action to protect you from toxic chemicals?

Today, the third annual Who’s Minding the Store? report card was published and in it they ranks 40 top retailers on their actions on toxic chemicals and sustainability.  The companies selected for evaluation were among the top forty North American retailers by sales or commanded the largest market share in one of twelve major retail sectors… in other words we all shop at, at least some, of these retailers. 


Why Do We need Retailers to Protect Consumers from Toxic Chemicals?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

With Wildfires Becoming the 'New Normal' How to Protect Your Indoor Air

credit:  @alealexkruk


Take a deep breathe.  It is not very often that we stop to think about what we are breathing in, yet we do it over 20,000 times every day.  The reality is that the air we breathe is not always as pure as we would like to think it is.  Usually, the air is full of pollution, fragrances, cleaning products, paints, allergens, dust, pollen, mold spores, and, as is the case this particular week in California where I live, smoke from wildfires,  as well as a long list of other stuff that can actually affect our health and our young children's health in both the short term or long term.  

There are various reasons someone might consider buying a portable air purifier at home.
  1. If you live in an area where air quality/pollution is an issue(more on that below).  
  2. If you or someone in your home frequently works  with certain art materials (paints, glazes etc) which give off dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOC's)
  3. if you live near an agricultural area where pesticides are often sprayed
  4. if you are remodeling or are moving into a recently built home
  5. mold problems
  6. Allergy sufferers (seasonal, pets, cigarette smoke etc)

Because this week in Southern California, so many communities have been facing serious, life threatening, wildfires I want to specifically talk about how these wildfires can affect the air that everyone, both near and far, breathes in.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Should I Be Avoiding Fluoride? A New Study Warns Pregnant Women to Stay Away


Is pregnancy exposure to fluoride a cause of early childhood ADHD?   According to a new study, it might be.  

This particular study has the participation of some very well known Universities and research entities including  experts from the University of Toronto, York University, the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico, University of Michigan, Indiana University, the University of Washington and Harvard University. The team  specifically found:


1. "that children with elevated prenatal exposure to fluoride were more likely to show symptoms of ADHD " . Specifically "inattentive behaviors and cognitive problems, but not with hyperactivity.


The same team recently found in a previous study that higher levels of urine fluoride during pregnancy are associated with lower scores on tests of IQ and cognition in the school-age children.  


Wait- I thought Fluoride was safe and prevented cavities?!


Thursday, October 25, 2018

NON-TOXIC FACE PAINT: FOR HALLOWEEN AND BEYOND

Photo credit:  Kristin Olsson 


post originally written and posted 10/2017

Kids love face paint. What better way to become a pirate or a princess or a butterfly or tiger than with face paint, right?   

Unfortunately, most store bought face paints have really toxic chemicals including   lead (and high levels of it) talc (linked to cancer), chromium, barium, endocrine disrupting fragrance chemicals (for more details on what is in your face paint check out an article I wrote for The Tot recently) 

I now cringe when I see a face painting station at  birthday parties or fairs because, truthfully, the struggle is real.  The kids LOVE getting fun designs and I don't always want to be the mean mom that says no.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

IS Organic Worth it? New Study Says Eating Organic Can Cut Your Cancer Risk

Photo Credit:  @onepotatobox

study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at 69,000 French adults and found that those who ate the most organic foods were 25% less likely to develop cancer.  Specifically  they were  73% less likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 21% less likely to develop post-menopausal breast cancer.

Why does eating an organic diet help you avoid cancer?
The main reason are pesticides.   

Monday, October 15, 2018

Are "x- Free" Nail polishes just as Harmful as Conventional Polishes?



I have two boys but if there is anything I know about little girls is that the many of them love to get a special manicure and/or pedicure just like there mamas.    Just today we were at a preschool birthday party and two little girls came to show me their glittery nails.

I also get asked by mamas quite often about safe nail polishes for their children.  Lucky for them (and us grown women who enjoy having manis and pedis) in the past couple of years there has been an explosion in the 'eco/clean' nail polish market.  Many new nail brands and even older established brands now proudly claim to be "three free"- meaning that they are made without dibutyl phthalate (a plasticizer used to enhance a polish’s texture and function, but that is linked to potential reproductive and developmental problems), toluene (a nervous system and developmental disruptor) and formaldehyde (a carcinogen). 

After the popularity of '3 Free' skyrocketed, we began to see the arrival of seemingly newer, greener brands that claim to go beyond the '3 free' and have eliminated even more chemicals commonly used in nail polish, labeling their products “five-free,” “10-free” and even “13-free.”  But what do these labels mean? Is anyone regulating these labels?


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

7 Popular Artificial Additives Banned By the FDA


Photo credit:  @icecream


Not all mint ice creams are created equally- while some, like our local favorite homemade recipe (find it below!) or the one pictured by @sweetrosecreamery in LA, are made using real mint leaves, others are made using artificial flavors.   
This week, the FDA announced that 7 synthetic food additives, including one commonly used to provide mint flavoring in foods like ice cream, will be banned from use in food.
The announcement came after the FDA received a petition signed by environmental and consumer groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Food Safety, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Breast Cancer Fund and the Environmental Working Group.


Why are these artificial flavors being banned now?


The synthetic flavors have been known, for a while, to cause cancer in animals.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

New In Home Glyphosate Test For Food and Water


I know a lot of my followers felt frustrated and confused when some of their children's favorite daily breakfast foods  (some organic!) were found to contain high levels of glyphosate (read more on this in my post " IS THERE A CANCER CAUSING PESTICIDE IN MY KIDS FAVORITE BREAKFAST FOODS?!").  The thing is,  glyphosate, the main ingredient in the widely used  pesticide Round Up is considered a carcinogen by the World Health Organization and the herbacide has also been found to be dangerous even at "low safe levels" . 

Now, finally, we can all find out if some of the items in our own kitchens contain the presence of glyphosate- @thedetoxproject is now selling a home test kit for glyphosate: The GlyphoCheck™ Home Test for Glyphosate in Food and Water.

Monday, September 24, 2018

BPA's 'Safe Daily Level' Might Be Enough to Lead to Type 2 Diabetes


Last week I wrote about why you should be weary of all Bisphenols - ie chemicals similar to BPA that are being used as its substitute in 'BPA free products' and which have been found to be just as harmful to our health (read more here).

Today, a new study came out showing yet another reason why BPA, even at levels considered 'safe' by the US EPA and FDA is harmful to humans.

We know that BPA mimics estrogen,  and can disrupt the brain and hormonal systems.  We know that it may be linked to insulin resistance,  obesity,   breast cancer and metabolic disorders including polycystic ovarian syndrome in women,  and low sperm count in men.  

Past animal studies have suggested a correlation between BPA exposure and insulin resistance/type II diabetes.  But now, a small US based study from the University of Missouri  found that exposing adult humans to the presumed US 'safe' daily BPA dose affected the body's insulin response to glucose, ie this 'safe' dose may be enough to have implications for the development of Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Why "BPA Free" is Not A Safer Alternative


Most of us know what BPA is - or at least where it is used: BPA is a chemical that is often used in clear, shatterproof plastics, such as baby bottles and food-storage containers, as well as the liners of metal food cans and even in thermal store receipts.

WE know that bisphenol A, BPA, should be avoided. WE have known that for about twenty years and in that time countless studies have been published showing how BPA does indeed have a serious effect on the developing brain, heart, lung, prostate, mammary gland, sperm and eggs. In fact, so much is known about BPA that it is probably one of the most well known and well studied chemicals - which is why our stores are filled with BPA free plastic.

Parents everywhere still routinely seek out 'BPA FREE' items for their children because the underlying assumption is that if it is BPA free it must be safe.

But is it?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Mom's Gut Can Determine Child's Autism Risk


A new study published in The Journal of Immunology has found a link between the gut microbiome and autism. According to the researchers from the Center for Brain Immunology at the University of Virginia, it is not our own microbiome that could affect whether or not we develop autism – it is our mom's.

The microbiome can shape the developing brain in multiple ways," John Lukens, lead researcher explained… and an unhealthy microbiome in the mom can create problems for the baby.

What is the microbiome?

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Our Kids Are Exposed to Lead Every Day and We Could Have the Power to Stop it- Here is How



Did you know?

  • Reuters identified more than 3,300 U.S. neighborhood areas with documented childhood lead poisoning rates double those found in Flint.
  • In Los Angeles County:  Reuters identified 323 neighborhood areas where the rate of elevated lead tests in kids was at least as high as in Flint.


These included rich and poor neighborhoods.

Lead is still very much a problem affecting our children.  

Also dangerous?  California, and other states, do not require lead testing in young children- so many more children could have elevated lead blood levels and not know it. Have your children been tested for lead?

WHY LEAD IS BAD

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

What the #@!% Am I Going to Feed My Kids That Is Safe?! What to Avoid and 'Cleaner' Snack Ideas for Your Family




After the latest studies showing the very popular and probably carcinogenic pesticide, glyphosate, in organic and non organic oat products and, days after, another study which found lead in organic and non organic baby foods, parents everywhere are left looking around their kitchens thinking “ What the #@!% am I going to feed my kids that is safe?!”

I get it.   For a moment I thought the same thing (btw if you are feeling angry and frustrated channel these feelings into taking action- when its time to vote, signing petitions, etc Angry moms get things changed and we certainly need change in our country when it comes to chemical reform); I personally eat rice crackers and my kids had recently started eating Cheerios.
  
But, being overwhelmed and stressed out helps no one - especially a mother who needs to pack a lunch or snack for her little ones every day.  With this in mind, and after a follower requested a list of 'safer foods',  I decided to try to make a list of “safe”  snack foods for kids:  your kids and mine.   

Monday, August 20, 2018

What To Do When Baby Food Is Found To Contain "Worrisome Levels" of Harmful Heavy Metals



This has been a rough week for parents trying to reduce their family's chemical exposure.  First,  I posted how Monsanto, the company that makes the popular weed killer Roundup, has been ordered to pay $289 million USD to a terminally ill school groundsman who used Roundup weedkiller and claims the pesticide contributed to his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (read the full article here

Then, the Environmental Working Group published a report where they found glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, in the majority of samples of common breakfast products made with conventionally and organically grown oats.   This included popular oatmeal, granola and granola bars and childhood favorite cereals like Lucky Charms and Cheerios.

Now, Consumer Reports published a study that found many types of food commonly eaten by babies and toddlers - such as packaged entrees, fruits and vegetables -- contained “measurable levels” of certain heavy metals.  Let's take a look at their findings, what it means for your family and- very importantly - what you can do at home to keep your kids safe.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Is There A Cancer Causing Pesticide in My Kids Favorite Breakfast Foods?!



Earlier this week I posted about how Monsanto, the company that makes the popular weed killer Roundup, has been ordered to pay $289 million USD to a terminally ill school groundsman who used Roundup weedkiller and claims the pesticide contributed to his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (read the full article here

Now, glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, is again in the news.   The Environmental Working Group just published a report whre they found glyphosate in the majority of samples of common breakfast products made with conventionally and organically grown oats. 

The organization tested 45 products and found that 43 tested positive for the chemical; 31 contained  levels above what EWG scientists have determined is safe for children’s health (they all tested well below what the EPA has determined safe for kids.  EWG's safety level is about 100 times lower than what EPA says is safe). 

They tested both non-organic and organic oats.  ORganic items showed much lower levels of the pesticide, however  5 of the 16 organic samples still tested positive for containing glyphosate ( all were deemed safely under the EWG  level of danger for children).




The Results: 
Tested positive for potentially dangerous levels of glyphosate: 

Quaker Oats products:

  • Old Fashioned Rolled Oats *
  • Steel Cut Oats *
  • Simply Granola Oats Honey
  • Raisin and Almonds
  • Dinosaur Eggs Instant Oatmeal * 
  • Umpqua Oats, Maple Pecan

Cereals
  • Lucky Charms
  • Cheerios *
  • Barbara's Multigrain Spoonfuls
  • Barbara's Multigrain Spoonfuls, Original, Cereal
  • Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran oat cereal

Granola
  • Back to Nature Classic Granola
  • Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats 'n Honey
Granola Bars

  • Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, Oats 'n Honey
  • Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip granola bar

  • Bob’s Red Mill oats steel cut oats 
  • Great Value Original Instant Oatmeal
  • Market Pantry Instant Oatmeal, Strawberries & Cream
  • Nature's Path Organic Old Fashioned Organic Oats
  • Giant Instant Oatmeal *
* had the highest levels 

Items that tested positive for low/“safe” levels of the weed-killer,

Granola

  • Back to Nature Banana Walnut Granola Clusters
  • KIND Vanilla, Blueberry Clusters with Flax Seeds
Granola Bars
  • Kellogg’s Nutrigrain Soft Baked Breakfast Bars, Strawberry
Oatmeal
  • Whole Foods Bulk Bin conventional rolled oats
  • Bob's Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (4 samples tested)


Items Tested with undetectable levels of weed killer

Granola/ Granola Bars
  • Nature's Path Organic Honey Almond granola
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Harvest Berry, granola bar
Oatmeal
  • 365 Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • Simple Truth Organic Instant Oatmeal, Original
Cereal

  • Kashi Heart to Heart Organic Honey Toasted cereal


Glyphosate has been classified by the World Health Organization as "probably carcinogenic to humans"  and was added to California's Prop 65 List of Chemicals Known to Cause Cancer.  Read more here 


Update
There is a new in home test available for you to test your family's water and favorite foods - Read more about it here

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

One Court Order EPA to Ban Popular Pesticide, While Another Orders Monsanto To Pay Millions To Terminal Cancer Patient who Used Roundup


Last week HUGE news on two very very toxic pesticides broke.

1. The 9th District Court has ordered the EPA to finalize its proposed ban on chlorpyrifos. 

 The reason? " undisputed findings that the pesticide is unsafe for public health, and particularly harmful to children and farm workers".....specifically: "scientific evidence that its residue on food causes neural developmental damage to children.”

What is chlorpyifos? How does this ban affect me?

Sunday, August 5, 2018

2018 Back to School Guide

These lunchboxes showcase his favorite characters... but are they safe?


If you want to skip to see the items I am recommending you can find my selections in my Amazon SHOP (click SHOP in the menu at the top of this page!) 

Back to School is upon us all and kids and parents everywhere are looking to buy this year’s supplies that will fit our kid’s personalities, last (at least!) the entire year and that won’t expose them to nasty toxic chemicals.   

The good news is that every year there are more safe, stylish and non-toxic supplies available.  The bad news?  I recently spent two hours at Target sifting through countless backpacks, lunchboxes and other school supplies.   The backpack area, specifically, was exhausting.   Most labels are either non existent or vague or misleading. Its easy to spot the vinyl  (shiny plastic) and fruity smelling supplies but its the more tricky chemicals, like water proofing chemicals or antibacterial chemicals, that are much harder.  

My take away from my trip to Target and my own Back to School prep this year? 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Helping Your Kids To Naturally Detox


We are all exposed to varying amounts of toxins and heavy metals throughout our lives- many of us on a daily basis.  The reason heavy metals, especially, are so worrisome for children is that they are neurotoxins (ie something that can alter the function or structure of the nervous system, including the brain) and they like to accumulate in our bodies through time.

Common sources of heavy metals include

Monday, July 30, 2018

Pediatricians Recommend Avoiding Plastics

The AAP is telling parents to avoid lunches like these for our kids

For almost 9 years I have been writing about the potential harmful heath effects that plastics can have on our children and recommending to stop, when possible, using plastic and switching to safer alternatives like glass and stainless steel.  This week, FINALLY the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) sent out a statement  urging families to limit the use of plastic food containers and consume less processed foods and food additives in order to lower children’s exposures to chemicals in food and food packaging that are tied to health problems.

THE FACTS
Today, more than 10 000 chemicals are allowed to be added to food and food contact materials in the United States, either directly or indirectly

Monday, July 23, 2018

Easy Make-At-Home Boron-Free Slime



Slime. Its hard to find a kid who doesn't like or isn't fascinated with slime. Its... slimy... and, well just fun.  It has also been having a moment - for about a year now countless kids throughout the nation have been obsessed with slime.   More than 1.2 million results appear on YouTube from a search for "homemade slime" as of March of this past year.

This is why it is especially worrisome that Which? , a U.K.-based charity, this week published the results of their testing of 11 popular slime products which found 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Squishies Giving Off Dangerous Chemicals


Are your kids into squishies?    I have seen them everywhere - especially hanging from kids backpacks all around
town.  Fact is, squishies are a thing- a big thing.  These soft colorful toys made from memory foam, have gained
popularity world wide- so much so that New York Magazine called them “ the next fidget spinners”. The toys have
captivated the attention of kids everywhere, especially 5-12 year olds, who either collect them or, basically, just
squish them (kind of like a stress ball). Squishies are available in larger sizes and key chain size and just about
everywhere from Target to Walmart to your local toy store and of course all over the internet.

This summer, authorities in Denmark ( their local EPA) decided to test the toys after noticing the chemical and fragrant smell they emitted.  The testing found that:

Monday, July 9, 2018

Tech detox

beautiful things can happen when we disconnect from tech
- but its not always easy


Usually I talk about detoxing from everyday exposure to harmful chemicals but equally as important for many children ( and parents especially!) is detoxing from electronics.

We are a generation addicted to being connected all the time- constantly checking emails, Instagram and Facebook and twitter. We have access to news and information all day and our children are growing up with parents that are connected to tech all day long and that are disconnected - often- from their children.

Kids who abuse screen time are more likely to suffer from everything from chronic irritability, mood disregulation, inattention, speech delays etc. Mobile technology also has the added danger of commutative exposure to EMF radiation.  Unfortunately, screen time continues to rise- just mobile media time  for zero-to-eight year-olds has tripled between 2013 and 2017, from an average of 15 minutes per day to 48 minutes per day. Tweens log an average of four hours and 36 minutes of screen time per day, and teens spend an average of six hours and 40 minutes on a screen. 

Knowing all of this, we have somewhat strict rules at home regarding screen time. In a nutshell: no tv or screens during the week- these can only be used ( usually for a max of 2 hours per day) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The boys choose if they want to use their time on video games or tv or movies. Special circumstances do arise that allow for bending the rules ( ie if mom or kids are sick or just really tired and usually when the grandparents visit) but, generally, we all know the rules.

This summer, however, during our week long trip to Iceland we decided to implement a no screen policy for the entire trip ( excluding the 10 hour plane ride- we are not masochists!). Considering we drove around Iceland a lot ( almost every single day we were in the car between 3-5 hours) it meant a lot to not allow the kids to use their ipads.

Was it worth it?


Monday, June 18, 2018

Air Purifier Buying Guide: Why you Need One, How to Choose the Right One and Why it May Be one of the Best Investments You Make

Let's talk about the air your family is breathing

Take a deep breathe.  It is not very often that we stop to think about what we are breathing in, yet we do it over 20,000 times every day.  The reality is that the air we breathe is not always as pure as we would like to think it is.  Usually, the air is full of pollution, fragrances, cleaning products, paints, allergens, dust, pollen, mold spores,  and a long list of other stuff that can actually affect our health and our young children's health in both the short term or long term.

There are various reasons someone might consider buying a portable air purifier at home.
  1. If you live in an area where air quality/pollution is an issue.  
  2. If you or someone in your home frequently works  with certain art materials (paints, glazes etc) which give off dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOC's)
  3. if you live near an agricultural area where pesticides are often sprayed
  4. if you are remodeling or are moving into a recently built home
  5. mold problems
  6. Allergy sufferers (seasonal, pets, cigarette smoke etc)
*  I also have to say that we all sleep so much better when the air filter is on over night.   


Let's talk about just how serious each reason can be (or scroll down to my air purifier buying guide)....

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Non-Toxic Munchkin Approved: Fun and Safe Summer Essentials

Summer vacation is here which means that we have a long summer full of mostly sunny days that will hopefully be full of play, fun, a bit of travel or camps and memories in the making.

  All this free time entails a lot of planning on my (and most mom and/or dads) end, so the last thing we want to worry about are our kids being unnecessarily exposed to toxic chemicals and the very last thing we want to be doing is spending our summer researching safe fun products!


So here are some simple switches you can make to everyone's summer staples to make sure your summer is fun and healthy!



Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Why Its Worth Switching to Safer Personal Care Products and What I Am Using Now



Is it worth switching to non-toxic and cleaner beauty products? 

YES!

But don't take my word for it- a study conducted not too long ago followed teenaged girls that used conventional cosmetic and personal care products and had them switch to cosmetic products, shampoos and soaps that DO NOT contained phthalates and parabens.

After just 3 days the levels of these hormone-disrupting chemicals in the bodies of these teenage girls plunged ( by up to 44%!) - just by making the switch.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Banned in Hawaii: Is this Common Sunscreen Ingredient in Your Favorite Sunscreen?




Every year parents stop and ask me what sunblock I use- for myself and for my kids.   We all know we have to protect our families from the sun's dangerous rays... daily and year round if possible, however as more information is known about different popular chemicals used in sunscreens today- it can (and is ) confusing to know if your family's top choice is really just protecting you from the sun's rays and not also exposing you to harmful chemcicals.   Even my top choices have varied slightly through the years (although I have been pretty faithful to 2-3 of them for the last 3 years or so... more on that later) 

WHAT IS NEW IN 2018