Do want to give your baby the safest start?
Posted on 15/08/17 10:21 PM
So what is chemical load?
In simple terms, Chemical Load is the number and amount of toxins we carry in our bodies. Another term that is widely used is Body Burden, they both refer to toxins in the body.
Do babies have a chemical load?
Yes, unfortunately babies do have chemical load. The placenta whilst it does filter and nourish the baby does not block out everything. There has been validated research that has tested umbilical cord blood and determined the types and amounts of toxic chemicals that babies are being exposed to. 1 2 3
Once a baby is born you can then add to this, all the chemicals that contact their skin, are inhaled, or ingested or that the mother comes in contact with, or the father (or any other carer for that matter). In fact, a newborn baby is more susceptible, as their body systems including their skin are not fully developed. Therefore their body is not as able to filter and protect itself against chemicals.
Where do the chemicals come from?
Toxic chemicals can be anywhere in your environment and the consumer products you and your baby are exposed to. I.e. your water supply, air, food, cleaning products, skincare products, toys, furniture/furnishings, car, new items (clothing, carpet, couch, mattress), house and garden.
What are some of these toxic chemicals?
The top offenders include heavy metals like mercury, arsenic and lead, flame retardant compounds called PBDEs, phthalates, formaldehyde, PCBs, and bisphenol A.
These toxic chemicals can be found in pesticides, detergents, fragrance, personal-care products, emulsifiers, preservatives, colouring, flavouring, adhesives, paints, plastics.
Why is it important?
These chemicals are harmful to our bodies and impact brain and nerve function, hormone balance, reproduction, immune responses and cellular function. Many chemicals in our everyday environment are known carcinogens, however, NZ legislation does not protect us from many of these chemicals.
The rapid growth rate in babies compared to adults means that the impact of chemical load in a baby is significantly greater.
Our challenge comes in that the effects of the chemical exposure are often not seen immediately, or it is a combination of chemicals not one in isolation. An accumulation of chemicals over time can also cause problems.
What can you do?
Awareness is the starting point. Don't assume that because it's on the shelf that it's safe. If someone is telling you it's safe, validate that for yourself.
Ask questions before buying and if the seller can’t give you sufficient evidence, let your wallet do the talking.
Follow these 10 tips to help detox your family's environment today:
•Purify your Water
•Eat Quality Food
•Breathe Clean Air
•Minimise Skincare and use safest options
•Always wash new clothes & choose natural fibres
•Use natural and safe cleaning products
•Take your Shoes off at the door
•Outdoors use organic sprays and natural alternatives
•Say No Thanks to Plastics that leach and Nonstick items
Read below for more details
Purify your water
We believe that filtering your water is an absolute necessity. Your tap water will likely have chlorine, sediment, bugs, fluoride, and rust. It can also contain copper, lead, pesticides and chemical stabilisers all of which can increase your chemical load and affect your health. There are so many factors that can affect your water quality and without a water filter, you have no control over it.
Whilst it is an archaic method, Chlorine is currently the cheapest way to kill the dangerous germs and bugs in our water. So, whilst we use it to ensure water safety, Chlorine has been well documented to have a detrimental effect on the body. Studies of the literature and in animals have shown an increase in the incidence of atherosclerosis, heart disease and cancer through exposure to chlorinated water.
Drinking chlorinated water should be avoided wherever possible. Showering in water with chlorine in it is especially dangerous as it turns to gas at a lower temperature than water and the inhalation of chlorine fumes is harmful.
Your source of water and your budget will affect which filter you choose.
In an ideal world you would install a whole house filter to remove the chlorine, metals and sediment etc. As well as an under bench filter to remove the fluoride, plus any heavy metals and contaminants from your own water pipes. If you are unable to get a whole house filter, then at a minimum install one for your drinking water and installing a shower head filter will also make a big difference.
Visit www.nzfilterwarehouse.com to check out their whole house, under bench and bench top filters, they have the best quality filters at wholesale prices. For an additional 10% discount use the code: thinkwise
If you are not sure what filter will best suit your needs give Peter a call 092785548 and he will gladly help you out.
Eat Quality Food
If your budget allows, eat organic. Thankfully it is becoming easier to source quality organic and spray-free food locally, with farmers markets and home delivery available.
Agricultural chemicals have been linked to learning and behavioural problems, autism, leukaemia, parkinson’s disease, thyroid issues and hormone disruption, so avoiding them as much as possible is really important. There are restrictions on the level of residual pesticides, hormones and antibiotics allowed in fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat and dairy, however, enforcement and testing does not seem to be rigorous nor consistent. Also, the restriction levels do not take into account the effects on our hormones or immune system. The implications of consuming a cocktail of residual pesticides and the long-term effects are overlooked. If your budget does not allow for all organic then try at least to source the following organic or spray free: apples, strawberries, pears, grapes, peaches, blue berries, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, celery, and potatoes.
Food additives are used to preserve food, stop ingredients from separating or to enhance colour and flavour. While most are considered safe, some additives can trigger asthma, skin and nervous disorders or digestive problems. Remember that food that has been fortified with vitamins and minerals is likely to be from a chemical lab and not a natural source. Where possible eat nutrient dense fresh wholefoods, and avoid E numbers and processed food as much as possible. Cooking from scratch will significantly reduce your exposure to food additives.
If you do need to buy a packaged food remember that sugar, vegetable oils, wheat, soy and corn are the most industrialised food ingredients so try to avoid these.
Visit www.naturallyorganic.co.nz to check out their range of organic produce and use this code on your first purchase for $5 off orders over $60: thinkwise
Breathe Clean Air
Ok, so we know we can’t wrap ourselves in a bubble and never let the world in, but studies have shown that the air in our homes can actually be quite toxic. If you have an HRV system in your home make sure you have the highest quality filters installed. If you have or are choosing a heat pump check if it has air purification functions. Alternatively, consider an air purifier for bedrooms. If these options aren’t economical, then regular dusting, sweeping/vacuuming, and opening up the windows will make a difference, outside air has been proven in multiple studies to be purer than inside air 4.
Try to avoid air-fresheners, perfumes and scented personal care products that contain phthalates. Unfortunately, manufacturers are not required to list all the ingredients used to make their fragrances as they are protected as “trade secrets” so it can be difficult to identify. If the manufacturer can’t/won’t tell you what is in their “fragrance” or “parfum” then it’s not worth the risk. The only safe fragrances are high-quality essential oils and even these should be used in moderation and not used around your baby unless recommended by a qualified consultant.
Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors that mimic oestrogen and have been linked to early puberty, undescended testes in baby boys, cancer, birth defects and other developmental issues.
Another reason to avoid air fresheners is a chemical called Paradichlorobenzene which is a common active ingredient that is an eye, skin and throat irritant and causes kidney and liver tumours in mice.
Plants can also help to detoxify your air. They can process the benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene in our indoor environments (common substances in household furniture/building material off-gassing). Try English ivy, snake plants, spider plants, peace lily, golden pathos, weeping fig, bamboo, and philodendrons. Or if you would like some colour, chrysanthemums and gerbera daisies do the job quite nicely.
It is best to avoid painting and redecorating your child’s room if you are pregnant. If you are renovating or redecorating choose NO or low VOC paints and products. Make sure you try to “gas off” painted and renovated areas by opening windows and removing all dust and debris before anyone lives in these areas. The smells can cause nausea and headaches for a reason, the chemicals in paints, adhesives, and building products are not good for us.
Minimise Personal–care products and use safest options
What you put on your skin goes in. The medical world have understood this for some time and it is considered an effective method for administering medication (i.e. via patches). But it has taken some time for this to translate to the dangers associated with the increased use of personal care products. They are full of chemicals, of which over 80% have never been tested for safety. Chemical build up in tumors and blood are now beginning to help us understand the chemicals that have been absorbed, and their danger to our health.
By the time you leave the house in the morning most women have used 10-12 personal care products. Body wash, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, moisturiser, deodorant, foundation, bronzer, mascara, eye liner, eye shadow, lip stick/gloss and perfume are the most common. From these products alone you are being exposed to up to 200 chemicals – many of which can be dangerous to your health. The average number of products used per day by men is 6-8.
The cost of the product does not necessarily mean it is any safer, they often contain preservatives, parabens, phthalates, heavy metals (i.e. Lead), antibacterial agents (i.e Triclosan), petrochemicals and surfactants (i.e. Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS)). These chemicals are known to be hormone disruptors, skin irritants, neurotoxins and carcinogens.
So what can we do? There are no rules around the use of the words organic, natural, non-toxic so, it’s important to always read the ingredients list. Whilst many of our NZ products aren’t listed in EWG’s Skin Deep database ewg.org/skindeep you can search up the individual ingredients to assess the product's overall safety. Always ask questions if you are not sure about a product and if they can’t give you evidence of its safety then let your wallet do the talking. Thankfully due to modern technology you are not limited to what is on the shelf in the supermarket of the pharmacy. Check out www.belleandsage.com. There are also consultants available to help you give your personal care regime a makeover Emma at Belle & Sage will gladly help you and/or your coffee group do a detox www.belleandsage.com/pages/services.
When it comes to baby personal care products we encourage purified WATER ONLY for the first months of life. Their skin is thinner than paper, has no barrier function for at least 4-6 weeks and even then is still developing until the age of 2 years. The soaps, cleansers, wet wipes, lotions and fragrance are not necessary and simply overload your baby’s rapidly developing body with chemicals.
There are two exceptions to this rule, a 100% organic cold pressed oil for baby massage as the benefits are extensive and the use of a 100% organic barrier balm if baby gets skin irritation in their nappy area.
Always wash new clothes and bedding, where possible choose natural fibres
New clothing items are often treated with formaldehyde or other hazardous chemicals. This is done to prevent mould and mildew during shipping and storage. Formaldehyde is classified as a human carcinogen and can trigger an allergic reaction, making eyes water, blocking the sinuses and irritating the skin.
The fabric may also contain residual pesticides, dyes and bleaches that can cause irritation and have been linked to health concerns. Choose natural fibres, organic where possible garments. Always wash new clothing and bedding and dry in full sunlight before use.
Flame retardants in clothes and household products are also of concern. They are used in synthetic fibres and foams to reduce fire risk, the most prevalent type are PBDE’s which are known to cause tumours in animal studies. This is another reason to buy natural fibres wherever possible and also to ask about flame retardants before purchasing that mattress, couch, carpet or rug.
We recommend choosing a laundry detergent that is natural and gentle on skin. Check that your washing machine adequately rinses your cleaning agents out, it may be worth adding an extra rinse cycle especially for your babies clothes & bedding.
Use natural and safe cleaning products
The first time I realised that cleaning products could be dangerous was the day I sprayed a “popular house name cleaner” to clean up my daughters projectile vomit from the arm of the couch, and though she was over 2 metres away and had no direct contact with the spray within 60 seconds her whole face had come up in a red rash. I struggled to fathom that manufacturers would be allowed to sell us dangerous chemicals, all in the name of convenience and with no obvious warning of the potential risks.
Most of your home can be cleaned using a good-quality microfibre cloth with some water and simple kitchen ingredients like baking soda, white vinegar, soap and lemon juice. If you do need something with a bit more power opt for a natural, plant based product with no phthalate-riddled ‘fragrance’.
There are plenty of recipes online for making your own cleaners, and if you don’t have time to make your own then check out the wonderful range at Wendyls www.wendyls.co.nz use this code for 15% discount: thinkwise
In developed countries, the use of chemical cleaners such as ammonia, bleach and solvents and antibacterial agents like triclosan is much more prevalent. The research has linked these countries to a higher incidence of asthma, eczema and it is also believed to be contributing to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The truth is that having a clean house doesn’t necessarily mean it is a healthier house.
Take your Shoes off at the door
Shoes are known to pick up and carry toxic chemicals from the outdoors such as pesticides, fuel and contaminated dirt. These substances all accumulate as dust inside your home if you leave your shoes on. As well as this, studies have shown that bacteria such as coliform and e.coli are commonly present on shoes which can lead to increased sickness and infections.
Outdoors use organic sprays and natural alternatives for lawncare, weed and pest management
We completely understand that you don’t want your lawn to turn into a jungle and we know that for most people pulling every weed by hand is completely impossible. However, as well as the damage to the environment the use of conventional pesticides have been linked to neurological disorders such as parkinson’s disease, numerous types of cancers, learning disorders in children and immune disorders in adults.
Where ever possible avoid exposure to pesticides and opt for safer non-toxic options for your lawn and garden care. Thankfully there are an increasing number of organic and natural options available. You can even make some yourself if you have the time (link to weed killer recipe)
Do you remember the smell when you last entered a two dollar shop or bargain store? Are you familiar with the smell of a new car, new home, new furniture and new appliances? Whilst these ‘fragrances’ may seem appealing to you because of what they represent they are very bad for you. They are the emission of toxic gasses known as volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from new plastics, solvents, paints, sealants, aerosol sprays, cleaners, fragrances, adhesives, craft supplies, vinyl, wood and metal treatments.
The health effects from exposure to VOC’s can be immediate such as headaches, nausea, allergic skin reaction, dizziness, fatigue and eye, nose or throat irritation. As well as long term including liver, kidney and neurological damage, and cancer.
Your walls, your carpet, your sofa & your children’s toys could all be releasing VOC’s, so what can you do? Choose natural where ever possible, any new items that are not made of natural fibres need to time to “Gas off” put them out in the sunshine or under the carport or in the garage if the weather isn’t agreeable, and ventilate as much as possible. Another option is to buy used or second hand, as thankfully VOC’s dissipate over time. If you are renovating, try not to live in that area of the house and choose products that are as non-toxic as possible, such as pre-dried or quick-drying building materials and use water-based surface coatings.
Say No Thanks to Plastics that leach and Nonstick items
There has been extensive coverage of the dangers of chemicals such as BPA leaching from plastic. Did you know that BPA it is still widely used in the lining of canned foods, plastic packaging and receipt dockets? Where possible avoid canned foods, store food in glass containers and if using plastic ensure that it is a stable one such as number 4 or 5. Remember to never heat anything in plastic especially your baby’s milk. Learn more about the types and safety of plastics here
Whilst super effective for cooking your pancakes and making your pans easy to clean the chemicals used to coat non-stick cookware are known to be hazardous to your health. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), are actually widely used to waterproof furniture and clothing, in stain-proof carpeting, non-stick cookware, and are especially prevalent in fast food containers and microwave popcorn bags. Studies in animals have made links to cancer of the testicles, liver and pancreas. In human studies, PFC’s have been found to disrupt foetal development and have harmful effects on the immune and nervous systems. The best option is to avoid non-stick items all together. Choose cookware that is enamel-coated iron, stainless steel, ceramic, Pyrex and cast iron instead. Definitely, skip the microwave popcorn and when ordering takeout avoid polystyrene and request a container that is a stable plastic and transfer as quickly as possible.