Is it even possible to keep young children safe from toxins? Not completely, but there are definitely steps parents can take to limit their little one's exposure.
Keeping your home a toxin-free zone
You have the biggest chance of limiting toxic substances within your home, and your home is probably also where you and your family spend most time. The first thing that severely limits toxin exposure is not living close to a high traffic zone, or in the middle of a smog-rich city. You may or may not be in the position to decide where you live, but those who live in more rural areas certainly have less of an issue with bad air quality. Regardless of where you live, families with young children greatly benefit from banning cigarette smoking within their home. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 different toxins, some of which are linked to cancer. Inhaling second hand smoke is almost as bad as smoking the cigarette yourself.
Parents who are smokers don't just burden their kids with a higher risk of smoking later in life, they practically make them participate in their current smoking too. Then, there is third hand smoke the kind that sticks around in furniture, on walls, and in clothes. Just ban the stuff! Don't smoke (see quitting smoking for more info) and don't allow visitors to smoke in your home. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that pose a threat to you in your home at room temperature. They can be present in ordinary household cleaning materials, scented candles, and other things you have in your home, and can cause harm more easily if your home is poorly ventilated. Look into the concept of VOCs and purge your home of them as much as you can. That may be easier said than done, because VOCs do not just occur in easily Removable, small items. Some examples of possible sources of VOCs are:
- Composite wood products
- Air fresheners
Clean all surfaces in your home frequently with safe cleaning materials to make sure chemicals like lead and pesticides don't settle. Make taking your shoes off when you enter your home a habit. And, whether you are pregnant, trying to conceive, have a baby or are childless... strongly consider having your home tested for radon, a highly radioactive gas that is present in many homes. Also look for lead-based paints and asbestos, but never remove them yourself. The list of toxins is seemingly endless. You have some extent of control over the situation in your own home, but what about your child's daycare or school? Once you have "cleaned house", why not see what you can do in the other locations your child spends time in? Joining a parents' committee is often the most effective way to make changes within schools.
Help to create a better world in the future
While we all want our homes to be as safe as possible for our kids, we may also be contributing to toxins outdoors. What can you do to look after the earth? First off, use your car as little as possible or use public transport instead of a car all the time. Don't use pesticides in your own garden and buy organic foods so that you don't use them indirectly either. Are you unable to buy organic, and do you just need your car? You can still contribute by making sure you dispose of any toxic waste you have in the appropriate manner. Don't throw toxic paints, car oil, or glue in the garbage or flush it, for instance. The chances are that there are guidelines on how to deal with toxic waste (and describing what exactly counts as toxic waste) within your community. Google will tell you more, probably by directing you to your local authority's website. What do you do to make your kids safe from toxins? Please feel free to share your stories or ideas by leaving a comment below.