Posts Tagged ‘chemicals’

Thirdhand smoke is dangerous

Monday, July 7th, 2014

child on floorThirdhand smoke, the residue left behind in a room where someone has smoked, is harmful to your child.

You have heard how smoking can negatively affect your pregnancy by causing birth defects and nearly doubling your risk for preterm birth. You may also know about the harmful effects of secondhand smoke on your health and that of your children.

What is thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the residual chemicals and nicotine left on surfaces by tobacco smoke. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that a few days or weeks after a cigarette is smoked, particles remain on all types of surfaces. Thirdhand smoke can be found anywhere – on the walls, carpets, bedding, seats of a car, your clothing, and even in your child’s skin and hair. Long after someone has stopped smoking, thirdhand smoke is present. Infants and children can inhale, ingest and touch things that result in exposure to these highly toxic particles.

Thirdhand smoke can be just as harmful as secondhand smoke and can lead to significant health risks. The AAP says that children exposed to smoke are at increased risk for multiple serious health effects including asthma, respiratory infections, decreased lung growth, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The residue left from smoking builds up over time. Airing out rooms or opening windows will not get rid of the residue. In addition, confining smoking to only one area of the home or outside will not prevent your child from being exposed to thirdhand smoke.

There are ways you can limit or prevent thirdhand smoke. AAP recommends:

• Hire only non-smoking babysitters and caregivers.

• If smokers visit your home, store their belongings out of your child’s reach.

• Never smoke in your child’s presence or in areas where they spend time, including your home and car.

• If you smoke, try to quit. Speak with your child’s pediatrician or your own health care provider to learn about resources and support.

The only way to fully protect against thirdhand smoke is to create a smoke-free environment. For more information on how to quit smoking, visit


Pesticides and our kids

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

pesticidesfertilizersPesticides can protect us from bugs and disease, but they can get into our food and water and harm us, too. Here are some tips for protecting your child’s food:
• Wash all fresh fruits and veggies with water before your child eats them.
• Give your child fresh fruits and veggies that are in season. They are less likely to have been heavily sprayed.
• When possible, avoid giving your children foods that have been treated with chemical pesticides. Look for locally and organically grown.

How else can we protect our kids from pests (ants, roaches, mice) and the harmful chemicals in pesticides?
• Remove food and water that might attract pests. Leaky water pipes can attract thirsty pests.
• Destroy places where pests can live and breed. Examples: litter, plant debris.
• If you decide to use a pesticide, read the label first. Follow the directions exactly. Pay special attention to warnings, cautions and restrictions.
• Whenever you can, use non-chemical pesticides. But remember, even natural ingredients can sometimes be poisonous. Always read the label.
• Use only the amount recommended. Don’t think that twice the amount will do twice the job!
• If the label says so, wear plastic gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when using a pesticide. Be careful not to inhale fumes while applying.
• Cover all food before using a pesticide indoors.
• Keep children, their toys and pets away from the area where a pesticide is being used. Wait until the area has dried or until the label says it’s safe for them to come back.
• Don’t spray outside on a windy or rainy day.
• When using a pesticide outside, be sure it doesn’t blow or run into the swimming pool, the vegetable garden, the sandbox, or the neighbor’s yard.
• Don’t buy more than you need. If you have leftover pesticides, check with your local government. Some communities have special programs to collect and dispose of hazardous products.
• If you use a pest-control service, ask them for information about the risks and safety precautions for their products.
• Put the phone number of the Poison Control Center near your phone: (800) 222-1222.
• Store pesticides out of children’s reach. Use a locked cabinet or garden shed. Child-proof safety latches are also a good idea. You can buy them at a hardware or home-supply store.
• Never put a pesticide in a container that children might think is food or drink. For instance, a jar or bottle with a liquid pesticide might look like something to drink.
• Never place ant, roach, mice or rat bait where small children can get to them.
• Teach your children that pesticides are poison and that they shouldn’t touch them.
• Tell baby-sitters and grandparents about the dangers of pesticides.

The Environmental Protection Agency has more information about how to prevent poisonings in your home.

Paternal exposures – can they harm a future baby?

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

man-paintingYes, some can. A paternal exposure is something the father of a baby is exposed to before conception or during his partner’s pregnancy.  These exposures include drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal drugs), alcohol, cigarettes, chemotherapy, radiation.  Chemical products at work or in the environment, such as lead, organic solvents and pesticides, also fit into this category.

Unlike maternal exposures (read Things to Avoid),  paternal exposures do not appear to cause birth defects, according to current studies, but more research is needed in this area.  Some paternal exposures, however, can damage a man’s sperm quality, causing infertility or lengthy delay in conception or early pregnancy loss.  Research indicates that some exposures may cause genetic changes in sperm that might increase the risk of childhood cancer in a man’s children.

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can seriously alter sperm, at least for a few months post treatment.  Some men opt to bank their sperm before they receive treatment to preserve its integrity.

Again, further research into to the field of paternal exposures is needed to fully understand the risks associated with them.

9 questions to ask your provider before you get pregnant

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

There are things you can do, before you get pregnant, to help give your baby a better chance of a healthy and full-term birth. See your health care provider before pregnancy and ask about the following topics.

What do I need to know about…

1. Diabetes, high blood pressure, infections or other health problems?
2. Medicines or home remedies?
3. Taking a multivitamin pill with folic acid in it each day?
4. Getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy?
5. Smoking, drinking alcohol and taking illegal drugs?
6. Unsafe chemicals or other things I should stay away from at home or at work?
7. Taking care of myself and lowering my stress?
8. How long to wait between pregnancies?
9. My family history, including premature birth?

Hazardous substances

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

I’ve been to the Home Depot three times this week. It’s official. I’m a suburbanite. Living in an apartment building was so easy. Any time a repair was needed we called the maintenance guy and the problem was resolved. Now we have to do everything ourselves. I don’t mean to complain, but up until last week I’ve never lived in an actual house and don’t know a hammer from a hair dryer.

The previous owners allowed their little daughter to place stickers all over the back of her bedroom door. Mental note to self: a kid needs supervision and a sticker album. I did some research online and got some tips for removing this mess and refinishing the door. I purchased all the necessary supplies including a mask and gloves just to be on the safe side. This is just one of the many projects on the list. There’s also an ant problem in the bathroom and the oven needs to be scoured.

I have just about every product you can think of  to spruce the place up from the windows to the hard wood floors. But, before I buy anything I read the labels first to identity any hazardous substances. Whenever I start a new project I keep the windows open and a fan going. I’m also in the process of educating myself about natural cleaning products like baking soda, lemon, and vinegar. These are not only safe, but good for the environment and less expensive.