How to avoid Phthalate exposure for kids.

Phthalates. They pass pretty quickly through adult bodies. Yet, children's bodies absorb, and retain those chemicals which are found pretty much everywhere these days. For more information about Phthalates, visit the Environmental Working Group, or check out ''Slow Death by Rubber Duck'', where you can read about the authors experiments on themselves. Meanwhile, here are a few simple ways to avoid this chemical, or if you will, this endocrine-disruptor plasticizer.

  • Hands: when you get up, one of the first things you do in the morning is wash your hands. Look at your bottle/bar of soap. Does it say, as part of the ingredients, ''fragrance"? That is Phthalate, right there. The cosmetic industry is not required to specifically write down ''phthalates'' in its ingredient list, so they opt for ''fragrance''. Now that you know this little fact, you can toss anything that says ''fragrance'' or ''natural fragrance''. Opt for scent or fragrance-free soaps, with as little and simple an ingredient list as possible. I have been using bars of olive oil soap for years now. They are cheap enough, and last a long time. They also rate at Zero (that is correct, 0) on the Cosmetic Database http://www.ewg.org/chemindex/term/480. Zero is what we are aiming for when it comes to toxicity. If you tend to use lotion after you wash your hands, again opt for fragrance-free, and stuff that is made from a vegetable, plant source instead of petrolium. As you have seen from the oil spill in the Gulf, petrolium is just about the last thing you want to put on your skin; it's toxic. Vaseline and Cetaphyl are made with petroleum, just to give 2 easy-found examples.
  • Hair: again, fragrance-free is the key word here. Avoid all the colorful stuff made for kids that you find at the supermarket/drug stores. Most of it is just an incredibly toxic chemical concoction full of dyes, sodium laureth sulfates and phthalates. I experimented with a few shampoo bars, but my hair came out looking like straw. So I went back for liquid shampoo and conditioner. They are not as low on the ''toxic scale'', but so keep my hair decent-looking, which is somewhat helpful when performing onstage. I have used Aubrey Organics, as well as ShiKai, for hair. Keep in mind that each different type of shampoo has a different chemistry, not just a different ''scent''. So while one shampoo or soap from the same maker may be totally fine, the other may be more toxic just because of the combination of the ingrediens. A good example is the Olive Oil soap from Kiss My Face that I use; the plain olive oil one is a zero on the list, but the ''olive and honey'' or ''olive and aloe'' ones reach a ''3'' on toxicity. If you are going to style your hair, again beware of the mesmerizing array of toxic hair products out there. Keep it simple. Shop at the health food store, and try to keep it fragrance-free. I recently saw a new shampoo at the hair salon made with nano particles, or nano-technology. Those shampoos are expensive, and are touted as ''healthy'', the next big thing for your hair. Stay away from those. There aren't enough studies done on nano technology to know its effects on humans, and because the particles are so small (hence the name nano), they penetrate the skin much more easily than their non-nano counterpart. Nano silver will penetrate the skin as opposed to regular silver particles. And no one knows yet what those nano particles do once they reach the ground and water.
  • Laundry Detergent: The place where we were staying last summer had some regular liquid laudry detergent left over from other guests. I ran out of the one I had bought, so started using the regular one until I could get to the store. That thing smelled so strong, it was scary. I put my clothes on, and all I could smell was that detergent. Even if I used a tiny little bit of it, and my clothes were pretty much still dirty because I used so little soap, I could still smell that detergent. That is ''fragrance'' for you. And where do those colors come from? ''Natural brightwater-blue"??? No need to remind you of how toxic regular, non-biodegradable laundry detergents are on the environment and on ourselves: non-biodegradable says it all. Whenever you can, opt for biodegradable, preferably scent-free and, if you can, in a paper box. Today, it turned out to be the cheapest detergent in the store: Planet powder detergent came simply in paper, with no plastic bag inside- some powder detergents do come in plastic inside the paper, which is annoying, unnecessary and wasteful, really. I skip the softeners altogether.
  • Creams: if you are not careful about what you are purchasing for your children, you can easily end up lathering petroleum-based cream all over their bodies, with a good ''natural scent'' to boot. For your kids, buy only the purest, simplest, absolutely scent-free and non-petrolium based products that you can find. It is not hard these days. For ourselves, I guess we can skimp a bit if necessary, but keep it pure for the kids- for their sake. Remember that their bodies are growing, and absorb everything much more easily than us older folks- and that includes their skin... 
  • Perfumes etc: I guess this is where you need to decide how much you want to decline ''fragrance'' or not. It is a very personal decision. I went online and found that my favorite perfume was pretty toxic, so even though I loved using it, I threw it out... maybe one day I'll be able to find something of better quality, but with the same great scent? Or maybe I'll forget about it altogether after a while... time will tell.
  • Carpet cleaners, household cleaners etc: if it smells strong, stay away from it. The stronger the smell, the more toxic it is. Good rule to remember. Stick to simple stuff like Dr. Bronner's, vinegar, biodegradable soaps, Bon Ami... Simple, old-fashioned, non-smelly stuff. Do not use anything like regular carpet stain-removers, Lysol, Pinesol, bleach and ammonia in the house- ever. Stuff like ''scrubbing bubbles'', and other super-strong cleaners for toilets, bathrooms, tubs and ovens are incredibly toxic. Their fumes are so strong that you can smell them in the cleaning aisle of the supermarket. Stay away from that aisle, and from those cleaners altogether. 

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