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Toxic Baby, Toxic World?

Toxic Baby Products

Toxic baby products should be on everyone's mind. Having a newborn is an adventure all on its own. Providing them with a safe place to grow up in is every parent’s challenge. We do everything possible to nurture their body and mind. The tough part is sometimes not having enough information to make the best decision. This is the case with many baby products on the market today. It includes anything from bedding, clothing, diapers, and furniture, to care products, and toys. Parents are left wondering how the chemicals in these items will affect the long-term health of their child. 

>> Have a look at the Environmental Working Group's website for helpful guidance

Over 50,000 chemicals have been introduced into our daily lives since World War II. Many of which scientists do not yet have enough data on to speculate about the effects of long-term, low-level exposure. In many cases with food or personal care products, companies do not have to list all ingredients. You really have no idea what is in store for your baby. 

Toxic Chemicals

Stay informed about toxic baby products!

Apart from shocking reports that make it into the media once in a while, it is up to parents to inform themselves and take charge of their child’s environment. Relying on slow-changing government laws and dishonest company labels is no longer something people are willing to stake their life on.

Newborns are especially vulnerable to toxic exposure. Their immune and nervous systems are not fully developed yet and cannot eliminate toxins as an adult would. Babies also have much more skin area for their size than adults. They absorb harmful substances through their skin and also breathe more air than adults. All those factors put them at a much higher risk of the harmful effects of chemical exposure.

Toxic Cleaners

With an overwhelming majority of things containing any number of harmful toxins, where do you start?

The simple answer is In Your Home. Your home will be the place your baby will spend the majority of their time in the beginning. Detoxifying your home is a great start. Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. Before you bring your child into the world, you have to make decisions on things like decorating the nursery, buying furniture and clothing.

You might also start to stock up on diapers, care products, cleaning products, and laundry detergent before the birth. A lot of those decisions must be made before your baby ever comes into your home. Many parents-to-be simply are not aware that these decisions will expose their newborn to harmful chemicals. They are very surprised to learn about toxins lurking around every corner.

Toxic Baby Products

How to prepare your nursery with non-toxic baby products?

Let’s have a quick peek at what preparing a nursery would look like for your newborn. You likely plan on painting. That will release toxic paint fumes that will off-gas long after your baby is born and sleeping daily in the nursery. You may also want to replace the carpet, another source of long-term off-gassing. Not only will your baby breathe in those fumes, but they will eventually crawl on the carpet. Their skin will be exposed to those chemicals.

Then you will possibly want to furnish the nursery with a crib and a change table. Both of those furniture items are generally manufactured with glue and plastics and sprayed with toxic paint (manufacturers covered older furniture in lead paint). The glue alone will off-gas for years in most cases. That is not counting the toxic foam bedding you may buy for the crib or the pad you may purchase for the change table. Your baby will be lying naked on these items. This leaves their skin to absorb harmful chemicals, which includes anything from formaldehyde to fire-retardant chemicals, toxic dyes, and pesticides.

Baby Crib

You might start to understand now why taking charge of detoxifying your home is critical.

There are several other areas with high toxicity for your baby. These include personal care products, household cleaning products, and baby food. In most cases, you can make the choice for less toxic, toxic-free, and organic products. The trick is being aware of what the dangers are. So, let’s take a look.

You may think that personal care products for babies are specially regulated and safety tested. But, that is simply not the case. A few years ago, several agencies criticized Johnson & Johnson for using possible cancer-causing chemicals in their baby shampoo. The main chemical in question was a formaldehyde derivative. 

Misleading natural and organic labels

In a 2009 test, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found formaldehyde and 1,4-Dioxane in 61% of baby care products they tested. Companies do not have to remove these chemicals, as they are a by-product of production. They do not even have to list them on the label. Many of these products carry the label “natural” or “organic”. Parents have no way of telling if these chemical by-products are in what they are purchasing for their babies.

This includes baby shampoos, lotions, bath products, and creams. In many instances, you are slathering your baby with toxic chemicals. And there is no definite answer as to what that will do to their development. 

Baby Bath

Household cleaners are another highly toxic area. You may think you are keeping your baby safe by wiping everything down with sanitizers and washing their clothes in scented laundry detergent. The truth is that you are exposing them to several hundred toxic chemicals in your conventional cleaners, dish soap, and laundry detergent alone!

These chemicals have been listed as potential carcinogens, irritants, poisons, and corrosives. They have been linked to:
- Cancer
- Learning disabilities
- Asthma
- Allergies
- Endocrine and hormone disruptions
- Reproductive problems
- Kidney and liver damage
- Nervous system damage
- Migraines
- Chronic skin irritation

Dish soap is the leading cause of poisonings in the US for children under the age of six. It makes us wonder why we would voluntarily want to eat poisonous dish soap residue with our food…

Poisonous Dish Soap

What a dangerous toxic brew to raise your baby in!

Another area of concern has been baby food and we support breastfeeding whenever possible. Baby food and formula has shown to contain any number of dangerous substances like GMO toxins, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and high amounts of sugar, therefore, keep in mind that your baby will eat these several times a day.

The methods used to preserve baby food are just as shady. Companies add chemical preservatives and harmful dyes to preserve the color of the food. Not to mention that preserving baby food at high temperatures, as is common practice, destroys the majority of its nutritional value. Using organic and non-GMO produce and products (ie. BPA free containers, bottles, spoons, etc.) to make your own food, is simply the safest way to go.

It is the only way to avoid pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, neurotoxins, and other harmful chemicals. It is up to you to take control of the food you feed your family.

For these reasons we need to inform ourselves and set an example by choosing to be toxic-free.

For yourself and your family’s health and safety, choose:
- Natural paint, flooring materials, curtains, and furniture that does not off-gas
- Chemical-free and toxic-free bedding, clothing, and toys
- Organic and toxic-free baby care products, household cleaners, and laundry detergent
- Organic and non-GMO baby food

Clean Food


Are Organic Products Overrated?

The Question of Going Organic

To buy or not to buy organic products? It is no question that in the last ten years, the consumption of foods and products labelled ‘organic’ has increased a lot. You probably noticed that organic products often cost double or triple what regular items cost. Likely this is also the reason why many people cannot afford to go organic. Even though they may want to.

The ongoing debate centers on the question whether ‘organic’ is really worth the extra money. Or if this is just another ‘fab’ that companies are using to drive sales. People seem very sharply divided over this issue. And there may not be a simple answer that satisfies everyone. How people address their health is up to each person. For a wide variety of reasons, people make different choices.

>> Have a look at the ToxicFree Foundation for helpful guidance

In order to offer some insight into this debate, let’s take a look at several important factors that go into the equation. Then, you can decide what makes sense for you. 

Organic Produce

What Do All the Labels Mean?

With so many products marketed as natural, non-toxic, toxic-free, organic, and certified organic, it’s hard to know exactly what you are getting. And what you should be spending your money on. Here is a brief run-down on the most common labels.

Overall, products marketed as ‘natural’ can still contain any number of harmful chemicals and toxins. Companies do not have to warn consumers about the health and environmental hazards. Nor the effects of chronic, or long-term exposure to chemical ingredients in household cleaning products for example.

If you buy fruits or vegetables at a grocery store, they do not come with a label of the pesticides the farmer treated them with. You have to rely on what the FDA (or equivalent organization in your country) deems safe amounts of chemical exposure. You can hope that your body can handle the cumulative effects of those chemicals over the span of your life.

There is an official definition for what a natural product is; however, the FDA has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances. There is no organization that actually tests these claims. So, the creator of the product is free to decide when to use the term ‘natural’.

Toxic Cleaning Products

Non-Toxic and ToxicFree

Non-toxic is another very misleading label. All it means is that less than 50% of animal test subjects died after being exposed to it. That is certainly an interesting way to look at it. Especially when considering items labelled ‘non-toxic’ may still have killed the other 49% of animal test subjects.

Toxic-Free is not officially government-certifiable. So, you may be getting a product that still contains harmful chemicals. The ToxicFree Foundation will certify products independently with their label. As the ToxicFree Foundation points out, the FDA does not certify organic or toxic-free personal care, household cleaner, or cosmetic products. Because of that the ToxicFree Foundation has stepped up to maintain a labeling standard.

If you see their toxic-free label, it means the product is completely free from harmful chemicals. Guaranteed. It contains only ingredients that are 100% natural and from the earth. And the product is made sustainably and is safe for the environment.

ToxicFree Foundation

Organic and Certified Organic Products

Finally, there is organic and then there is certified organic. The difference between those two labels is actually quite drastic. Any product can carry the label ‘organic’ even if it only contains just one ingredient that is natural and unprocessed. That leaves the rest of the ingredients wide open.

The label certified organic requires a much more stringent set of rules. Anyone wanting the certified organic label must create their products through approved methods. It means there is a standard and a way to test and enforce this standard. That is what is lacking in most of the other labeling methods.

Further, there are strict rules for certified organic food:
- It must be grown in safe soil that does not have synthetic pesticides, bio-engineered genes                (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers or sewage sludge-based fertilizers
- Farmers must feed certified organic livestock with organic feed without antibiotics, growth                hormones or other animal products

Certified Organic Products

Why Do Organic Products Cost More?

Think about the production methods and the testing and enforcement that goes into organic products. This will give you one clue as to why you are paying so much more for these products. It makes sense when you consider the more expensive feed or fertilizers farmers must use for example. And the money that is spent on having someone come out to inspect their farm or plant to ensure they are following organic standards.

There are several other reasons as well. Going back to nature means respecting the land. Back in the day, farmers rotated crops every season. With so little land today being available for organic farming (compared to conventional farming), rotating crops decreases production and increases wait times. We actually have to wait around for produce to grow, if it is not being pumped full of chemicals that make it grow bigger faster.

There is a lot of demand for organic food and having to wait for supply contributes to the higher prices. Not using those chemicals also makes it more likely for organic produce to fail (no pesticides=bugs, no antibiotics=possibly livestock may get sick). This is another thing to take into account.

Conventional Farming and Organic Products

Finally, conventional farmers who focus on greater production output, receive subsidies from the government. Organic farming remains dreadfully underfunded. If industrial farmers would receive the same funding as organic farmers, food prices would rise sharply even for non-organic food.

On top of that there seems to be some issues within the USDA as to how they allocate the funding they receive. A study conducted by Marcia DeLonge, Liz Carlisle, and Albie Miles discovered that the USDA allocated less than 2% of its 2014 education budget to agroecology grants, or awarded it to universities and other institutions. We should be looking to sustain organic farming practices and support this movement for us and future generations. But, we do not invest much funding in research for that sector. This could, of course, be due to the problem of underfunding the USDA in general.

Organic Farming

What Do Organic Products Do for Me?

Let’s take a look at what organic actually does. Labeling practices are confusing and the prices are steep. Consumers need to be informed as to why they should even buy certified organic. And what it will and will not do for them. This has generated huge amounts of debate on either side. There is the issue that not enough research has shown that the nutritional value of organic food is any higher than conventional produce, for example.

The discussion as to what that means and whether it is correct is ongoing and the opinions differ sharply; however, let's assume that the soil in general is depleted and water and air is polluted. And let's agree that we simply cannot achieve the same nutritional value in produce as before. There still remains the issue of cumulative effects of harmful chemicals.

Choosing organic produce, cleaning, and care products will REDUCE the amount of toxins you consume over the course of your life. As far as we know, there is not enough research conducted yet to know exactly how the toxin levels and GMO products will affect us in 30, 40, or 50 years. But we can take an educated guess.

Going organic will not eliminate toxins and environmental exposure entirely, but you will lower the amount of overall toxins in your life. This will lower the cumulative totals over the span of your life. And it could possibly lower your susceptibility to disease.


The Verdict

So, is organic overrated? You may want to think of it this way: it is not possible to eliminate every single toxic item from our lives and our planet, but the organic industry is taking concrete steps in that direction. Is the process perfect? No. Is the labeling and marketing sometimes confusing to the consumer? Yes. Do some companies do a better job than others? Yes. But all those things are true for every industry out there.

If you are concerned about your health and what you are consuming, you may find that going organic is one major way to change a toxic lifestyle. It will take a chunk of chemicals out of your immediate environment. You will also be supporting a more sustainable way of farming and production for future generations. The answer also lies in the fact that if more people support organic practices, farmers can lower their overall production costs and share some of those savings with the consumer.

The bottom line is that we all have one body and live on this one planet and we need to preserve both the best way we are able to.

Organic Products

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Organic Total Body Reboot