By Nora Heston Tarte Contributing Writer
Kirkman Group, Inc.
Chemicals surround us. From the products we use to clean our home, to the air we breathe, there are traces of harmful toxins lingering everywhere. When children are overexposed to them, they can affect development. In fact, due to their small size, faster metabolisms and immature immune systems, children are more susceptible to the toxins with which they come into contact. Research has linked early exposure to cognitive delays, childhood illness, hormone imbalances and lifelong health problems.
If you want to minimize the use of chemicals and toxic exposures in your home, there are some easy changes and “quick swaps” you can make. Here are a few ideas:
Processed foods and hormone-injected products are full of unnatural additives. To avoid these pesky extras, rethink your grocery list: buy organic, eat whole foods and ditch items that are processed or preserved.
Switching to organic meals has been linked to a 90 percent decrease in pesticide exposure.1 In addition to Kirkman’s supplement line we also sell food products (like pea powder and sugar substitutes) that are Ultra Tested® for more than 950 potential contaminants. For those with environmental sensitivities, Kirkman’s products are also free of common allergens.
Household cleaning products often contain harmful chemicals. Environmental experts have said the average home contains 62 toxic chemicals2, and studies have linked these chemicals to numerous health problems. Consider switching the chemicals under your sink for ones that won’t make your family sick.
Kirkman Kleen™ is a line of household cleaning and personal care products aimed at reducing chemical exposure and serving those with environmental sensitivities. All of the products are non-toxic, free of heavy metals, artificial fragrances, dyes and common allergens such as casein and gluten. They are also biodegradable, which means they’re good for the environment, too! Take the big-name bleach out of your home and use Kirkman’s Chlorine Free Oxygen Bleach instead. Also available: Stain-Out, Produce Wash, Glass and All-Purpose Cleaner and Degreaser, Free & Clear Laundry Liquid, Free & Clear Dishwashing Liquid and Free & Clear Dishwashing Powder.
A child’s earliest exposure to chemicals is often through disposable diapers. Conventional disposables have repeatedly undergone testing since 1999, and the studies have revealed disposable diapers contain carcinogens, endocrine disrupters and even heavy metals3—all substances you certainly don’t want your newborn exposed to. Among the most alarming chemicals that have been found are dioxins, sodium polyacrylate, dyes, fragrances and phthalates. Even more, a 2005 Pediatrics study linked dyes to the cause of diaper rash.4
To avoid some of these harmful ingredients, find all-natural diaper brands that focus on reducing the amount of harmful chemicals in their products, opting instead for natural, plant-based alternatives. Or, for a different alternative, use cloth diapers instead. These products are free of chemicals, and some brands offer organic cotton. Clean out your changing table and switch disposable wipes for cloth wipes and water-based wipe solution. You can even make your own rash cream using all-natural ingredients (recipe below).
Federal regulations dictate that art supplies must be labeled with specific warnings to indicate whether the product may be likely to cause a skin irritation, could be dangerous if swallowed or has been linked to other potential health hazards. For those with environmental sensitivities, even the smallest amount of harmful or allergy-inducing ingredients could have severe consequences. To avoid accidental exposure, even when the label is marked “non-toxic” or “conforms to ASTM D 4236,” consider skipping store-bought varieties and make your own kid-friendly art supplies at home. From paint to playdough, the Internet is littered with recipes for little Picassos to create to their hearts’ desire.
Children should only use water-based paints, but sometimes it’s the color additive that is the most harmful ingredient. Try making your own colorings using foods you can find in your kitchen. Start with a non-dairy yogurt for the base and mix in muddled berries or other foods for color. (Recipe for concentrated colors below.)
When purchasing supplies from the store, pay attention to labels. Water-based crayons and markers are safest for children. Those marked “waterproof” or “permanent” are more likely to include chemicals that could cause nausea, headache or other ailments. When you have to use these items, go for “low odor” options that are typically made with alcohol and therefore less toxic.
Just about every type of art supply has some sort of safer alternative and at-home recipe for making your own. Always check labels for what you can find, and call companies for more details when necessary. If you have any doubt at all, consult Pinterest and other DIY-friendly sites to find recipes to suit your child.
Modeling Clay Recipe
Combine ⅔ cup water and two cups salt in a saucepan and boil for five minutes. Add in cornstarch and ½ cup cold water once you have removed the pot from the heat. Stir until smooth. Place back on burner, lower heat, and cook until it achieves the desired consistency.
All-Natural Concentrated Color Food Coloring
Liquefy raspberries in a blender. Pour over strainer to remove seeds. Pour juice into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it turns to a thick paste. Stir into yogurt, clay etc. to add color.
Repeat the same process using mangos (peeled and pitted).
Chop up a head of red cabbage, put in a medium-size pot, and completely cover with water. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the water turns dark purple (about 30 minutes). Strain the contents and add ¼ teaspoon baking soda to turn the liquid blue.
Homemade Wipe Solution
Mix three parts warm water with one part olive oil. Next, add a capful of gentle, all-natural baby soap and three to four drops of an essential oil of your choice (lavender and tea tree are both popular options). Put in a spray bottle, and shake before each use. Spray on cloth wipes for easy application.
Homemade Diaper Rash Cream
Mix ¼ cup shea butter, ¼ cup coconut oil and one tablespoon beeswax pastilles into a double boiler. Bring water to a boil to melt the ingredients. Once the concoction is completely melted, mix in two tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons zinc oxide powder, one tablespoon bentonite clay and three to four drops of chamomile essential oil. Stir as it cools and place in an airtight container for storage.
1. Gutierrez, D., Eating organic foods reduces pesticide exposure by nearly 90% after just one week, Natural News, May 6, 2014. Accessed from: http://www.naturalnews.com/045006_organic_foods_pesticide_exposure_phthalates.html#ixzz42tWSub1p
2. Scholl, J., 8 Hidden toxins: what’s lurking in your cleaning products? Experience Life, Oct. 2011. Accessed from: https://experiencelife.com/article/8-hidden-toxins-whats-lurking-in-your-cleaning-products/
3. Anderson, R.C., Anderson, J.H., Acute respiratory effects of diaper emissions. Archives of Environmental Health. 1999 Sep-Oct;54(5):353-8.
4. Alberta, L., Sweeney, S., Wiss, K., Diaper dye dermatitis, Pediatrics, September 2005, Vol. 116, Issue 3. Accessed from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/116/3/e450.full?sid=a13491bc-4318-4181-940b-d3d406ec7427