Friday, April 27, 2012

How to Reduce Your Exposure to Chemicals Suspected of Causing Autism: NTM 123's

Now that Mount Sinai’s Children’s Environmental Health Center has released their top 10 chemicals suspected of causing autism and other learning disabilities (to read what these chemicals are go to our blog entry 10 Common Chemicals Suspected to Cause Autism) , what is a parent to do?   Just how common are these chemicals.... and do you have them lurking in your house?

The answer is, unfortunately,  yes.  Most people come into contact with these chemicals  a couple of times a day if you don't make it a point of avoiding them.  Considering the possible dangers behind them pregnant women, especially, should take extra precautions.   Even I , who take great precautions to live a non-toxic life, learned a thing or two and will be making some changes (in my case in my diet since we eat a lot of fish at home!) ... here are easy steps to reduce you and your munchkin’s exposure:

 1.     Methylmercury:

  •  Avoid fish high in mercury, such as king mackerel, tilefish, swordfish, orange roughy, and marlin. Limit consumption of tuna, especially steaks and canned ‘white’ albacore.
  • Fish with lower-mercury  levels include:  wild (NOT farm raised!)  salmon, sardines, anchovies, Atlantic herring, Dungeness crab, Pacific cod, Alaskan black cod, farmed striped bass, tilapia, farmed catfish, clams, mussels, and Pacific oysters.

    2.    Lead:
  • A. If you live in a home built before 1978, it is likely to contain lead-based paint. If you see paint chipping, peeling, or otherwise deteriorating, or if you want to remodel, hire a certified abatement worker to remove or contain contaminated paint.  
  • Because lead can accumulate in dust and breathed in,  use door mats, remove shoes at the door, and vacuum and clean regularly to reduce lead that accumulates in house dust.
  • B. Watch for lead in dishware. Do not use old, imported, or homemade ceramic dishware, unless you know that the glazes do not contain lead.

   3. PCBs:

The most important actions you can take to reduce the PCBs and DDT in your diet are to cut back on animal fats and watch the type of fish you eat.
  • A. Choose fish wisely. S port-caught fish or shellfish are often high in PCBs and DDT. Commercial fish that are high in PCBs include Atlantic or farmed salmon, bluefish, wild striped bass, white and Atlantic croaker, blackback or winter flounder, summer flounder, and blue crab.
  • B. PCB, as well as other toxic chemcials,  accumulate in fat tissue.  When preparing fish, remove the skin, trim the fat, and broil, bake, or grill the fish so that the fat drips away. Fish are an excellent source of nutrients including protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, so don’t remove fish from your diet—but do be selective about the fish you eat

  4.  Organophosphate pesticides:
  Buy Organic!
  • Choosing organic produce, including frozen organic produce. A 2008 Emory University study found that in children who switched to organically grown fruits and vegetables, urine levels of pesticide compounds dropped to undetectable or close to undetectable levels.
  • For a list of fruits and vegetables that have the highest levels of pesticides and are most important to avoid read out post on HOW TO REDUCE PESTICIDE EXPOSURE AT HOME AND IN OUR DIET: NON-TOXIC MUNCHKIN 123'S

5. Organochlorine pesticides:
  • Since these are commonly used in gardens and parks, wipe shoes on doormats and leave them at the door to avoid tracking in pesticide residues.
  • Control dust which can also contain pesticide residues in your home. Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum if possible. Use damp dust rags instead of feather dusters which stir up dust and disperse it into the air;
  • Avoid all use of pesticides on your lawn and garden and in your house. Opt for natural remedies for your home and garden and to control pests.
  •  If your children  contract head lice, avoid lindane, a pesticide in head lice treatments for children.

   6. Endocrine disruptors:
Oh where to start?   There are so many endocrine disruptors that it is hard to spell out everything you have to do to avoid them.... but here are some easy tips!

  •  Opt for glass, ceramic or stainless steel instead of plastic (to hold or heat food, for water bottles etc)
  • Avoid plastic toys.  The softer the plastic (think:  squeaky toy) the more endocrine disruptor's it probably has
  • Never microwave food in plastics
  • Avoid plastic cling wrap
  • Look for BPA free, Phthalate free products
  • When possible give children natural materials like wood or clothes to play with instead of plastics (especially is they are putting these toys in their mouths)
  • Avoid touching (or letting your child touch) store receipts which have been found to have BPA. 
  • Avoid dust buildup in your home:  dust regularly, use a vacuum with HEPA filter, clean your children’s toys regularly. 
  • Avoid fragrance.   Just about every product that has an ingredient that reads “fragrance”  has phthalates and thus endocrine disrupting chemicals.   These can be found in beauty products, hand cremes, shampoos, makeup, room sprays, perfumes, cleaning products etc

   7. Automotive exhaust
Not only is this linked to autism but a recent study found that children born to mothers with the highest PAH (chemicals found in tobacco smoke and automobile exhaust) levels during their third trimester had a 79% greater risk of becoming obese, compared with children born to moms with the lowest PAH levels. By age 7, the risk was even higher — more than 2.25 times greater.
  • A.  Close your car windows during heavy traffic
  • B.  don’t allow your car to stay turned on inside a garage.

   8. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons:

  • One of the greatest sources of exposure to PAHs is through tobacco smoke. Stop smoking and encourage family members to not smoke, at least not inside the house or near you.   
  • Decreasing consumption of smoked and charbroiled foods.
  • Decreasing the use of coal-tar-based cosmetics and shampoos.
  • Substituting cedar shavings or aromatic herbs for mothballs, moth flakes, and deodorant cakes.

 9. Brominated flame retardants
  • Most upholstered and foam containing furniture contains PBDE (a common fire retardant). Buy PBDE-free furniture. IKEA does not use PBDEs in its products, and Serta states that their mattresses produced after 2005 do not contain PBDEs.
  • If you already own furniture that contains PBDEs, cover and seal any rips in upholstery, and consider replacing old items where foam is exposed,
  • Since most conventional mattresses contain, by law, PBDE’s cover them with allergen-barrier casings to reduce the amount of PBDE-laden dust that they release.
  • Buy organic mattresses for your children!
  • Choose electronics made with alternatives to PBDEs, available from Canon, Dell, HP, Intel, Erickson, Apple, and Sony. 
  • Avoid farmed fish. European and U.S. farmed salmon have particularly high levels of PBDEs. Choose wild salmon instead.
10. Perfluorinated compounds
  • Avoid  microwave popcorn bags, french fry boxes, and pizza boxes
  • Choose furniture and carpets that aren’t marketed as “stain-resistant,” and don’t apply finishing treatments such as Stainmaster to these or other items.
  •  Avoid beauty and personal care products with ingredients that include the words ”fluoro” or ”perfluoro.” PFCs can be found in dental floss and a variety of cosmetics, including nail polish, facial moisturizers, and eye make-up.
  • Beware of nonstick pans, like Teflon.  If you choose to continue using non-stick cookware, be very careful not to let it heat to above 450ºF.   Throw away non stick pans with scratches or signs of deterioration.  Opt for stainless steel pans.

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