PANDAS Stole My Child

girl jumpingI guess it was inevitable. Steep yourself in information about rates of childhood illnesses spiking to epidemic proportions, and you’re bound to become a maternal hypochondriac. But when my then four-year-old daughter first displayed symptoms of serious illness, I panicked. And as it turns out, my panic was justified.  [Read more…]

3 Steps to Avoid Flame Retardants

beautiful baby boy sleeping on a mattressThis could be the end of the line for flame retardants. As the EPA launched an investigation into the chemicals, Washington state banned flame retardants from kids’ products, and California announced a move to update the state’s flammability standards, pressured by those concerned about a policy that had exposed millions of people to toxic flame retardants—also known as PBDEs—in our homes.

What’s the big deal about California? Because the state represents such a large market, California’s flammability standards—governed by TB117, which was adopted by the state 40 years ago—have become a national standard, essentially forcing furniture and baby product manufacturers throughout North America to add chemical flame retardants to their products.

The problem is, these flame retardants—which focus on the flammability of foam, not fabric—don’t protect us from fires. [Read more…]

Does Natural Hair Color Really Work?

brunette girl dying her hair with rubber glovesAfter a flirtation with auburn hair color in high school and some serious bleach in college, I went au naturale. But recently, the few-and-far-between white hairs that I began to pluck in my mid-30s are now threatening to become a bald spot if I keep up the practice.

It’s time for natural hair color.

Natural hair colors typically eschew coal tar, peroxide, benzene, ammonia, toluene, paraphenylenediamine and other toxic chemicals omnipresent in conventional hair dyes—things that I most definitely want to avoid.

Even the FDA warns that conventional hair dyes can cause respiratory problems, hair loss and skin irritation—among other problems. [Read more…]

Why You Should Care About Chemical Safety

capitol building with white clouds behind itAutism, ADHD, asthma and allergies — increasingly, they’re all being linked to chemicals in our environment. Babies are now born pre-polluted with more than 200 industrial chemicals in their blood, just from pre-natal exposure. How can that not have an effect?

Yet the manufacturing industry’s position remains firm, lobbying that regulating chemicals will hurt small businesses, leading to increased production costs and job losses.

As a result, there are still 84,000 chemicals used in commerce that have never been tested for children’s safety. They are supposed to be regulated by the Toxic Chemicals Control Act (TSCA) but it doesn’t have a lot to do with chemical safety.

Guess how many chemicals have been restricted since TSCA was passed in 1976? Five. Yes, you read that right. Five. But luckily, there are changes afoot. [Read more…]

Want a Natural Pregnancy? 12 Tips to Protect Your Baby for Life

little girl listening to her mom's natural pregnancy bellyGetting ready for baby—or pregnancy? Congratulations! Going green for your growing belly—or for when you bring that baby home—sounds good on paper, but is a natural pregnancy doable in reality? Yes! Here’s how:

1. Eat organic: The dangers of common pesticide exposure are equal to those of smoking during pregnancy: low birth weight and early labor. Studies have shown that eating organic for just five days can eliminate many of the pesticides—linked to cancer, among other health problems—in our bodies. Following the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen lists can reduce your family’s exposure by 80 percent. [Read more…]

What is BPA? 6 Ways to Ditch It for Good

open can of tomato soup with spoon in itIn 2012, the FDA announced a nation-wide ban on BPA in bottles and sippy cups. The following year, California placed the chemical on its Proposition 65 list, officially recognizing it as a reproductive hazard.

So what is BPA? Simply put, it’s a chemical used to harden plastics, especially polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

Despite federal and statewide action, our kids are still being exposed to BPA on a daily basis. The substance is still found in hard plastics, food-can linings and cash register receipts. In that year alone, studies linked BPA to:

1. Obesity: White children with the highest levels of BPA in their urine were six times more likely to be obese.

2. Anxiety: Exposure to BPA early in life resulted in high levels of anxiety in children.

3.  Reproductive problems: BPA exposure can damage a woman’s reproductive system causing infertility, miscarriages and birth defects.  [Read more…]

4 Steps to Keep Your Family Safe From Cell Phone Radiation

teen girl smiling while looking at cell phone and lying on her bedA few years back my son embarked on the bright and shiny adventure known as Middle School. Suddenly, his academic world quadrupled in size to a 2,000-kid student body. So my husband and I did what any responsible parents would do: We got him a phone.

According to the non-profit Teens Turning Green, of the more than four billion people who have cell phones, half are under the age of 20.

Yet because of their thinner skulls, children receive double the cell phone radiation exposure as adults, according to the Environmental Health Trust.

Long-term cell phone use significantly increases brain tumor risk. And those who began using cell phones as teens have four to five times greater risk of developing malignant brain tumors. [Read more…]

Body by Vegan

alicia silverstone in short shorts and strawberry t-shirtA few years ago, a friend forwarded me a picture of Alicia Silverstone. The subject line was simple: body by vegan.

It got my attention. Because even though I try to exercise two or three times a week, there remains that stubborn five pounds of fat that took hold right below my belly button while I was pregnant and never came off.

Now I know that I’m active and healthy, and I knock wood daily for that. But there is a vain teenager inside of every woman. And on the day that my friend sent me Alicia Silverstone’s picture, that teen spoke up. I wanted to have a body by vegan. Desperately.

The photo-sending friend happens to be a vegan, mind you. And she also happens to be very thin, which may have less to do with the fact that she doesn’t eat animal products, and more to do with the fact that when you don’t eat animal products there is really very little that you can eat. Why live like that? [Read more…]