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Is anybody else concerned about prenatal exposure to chemicals, toxins, off-gassing, etc?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I read a book at the beginning of this pregnancy called Having Faith (here is the book).  http://www.amazon.com/Having-Faith-Sandra-Steingraber/dp/0425189996/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1349324119&sr=1-3&keywords=Toxicology  I think the book was recommended by someone in this DDC awhile back, but not sure.

 

The book was written by a toxicologist and discusses all of the environmental toxins we are exposed to that accumulate in our bodies and go to our babies while we are pregnant and then again through breastfeeding.

 

I stopped wearing makeup and nail polish because all of the products I had that I put through the skindeep website (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/) came up as having all kinds of toxins.  I don't want that being absorbed into my bloodstream and going straight to the baby.  

 

I just bought a new chair that was delivered yesterday and there was a Prop 65 warning label on the chair that stated the chair has toxins known to cause birth defects!  I am so worried about breathing in the off-gassing from the chair and exposing my baby to formaldehyde or whatever it is that caused the warning to be put on the chair.  I am trying to air out my apartment and I found a list of plants that absorb and filter formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals out of the air.

 

I purchased an organic mattress for the baby and I'm only buying baby clothes with 100% cotton, but that seems like such a small thing when the furniture we buy is required by law to be soaked in flame retardants.

 

I just wonder if these are things other mamas worry about or if I am the only one.  I don't want to become overly anxious, but it seems so important and pervasive.

post #2 of 19

Kaliki- You are definitely not the only one!  I feel like you are reading my mind with your post.  I have been thinking about these same issues throughout my pregnancy.  I have heard of that book but have not read it.  There was an expose article in the Chicago tribune earlier this year about the whole fire-retardent issue (scam, really) and that is how I became aware of it.  I had no idea!!  Most people I talk to don't.  Today when I talked to my midwife about getting a note from her so I could get an organic bed, she had never heard of any of these issues....

 

All of the bad stuff is overwhelming, so I've had to decide what I'm going to tackle and what I'm going to let go.

 

What I'm doing: 

--Buying an organic king sized mattress for us.  We plan on co-sleeping and I won't be buying a crib (at least that's the plan).  My rationale is that this is a place to splurge b/c in terms of amount of time per day that the baby is exposed to chemicals, laying in a bed is probably the #1 worst offender.  My hope is that we could transition the kid to a montessori-style floor bed from our bed, that way we could buy one organic twin mattress that would last for a long time (instead of a buying an organic crib mattress, then an organic toddler mattress, and then a twin).

--Got rid of nearly ALL body products I use and replaced them with non-chemically stuff using the guides on the skin deep site. Including toothpaste, face wash, lotion, mouthwash, deodorant, shave cream, shampoo, etc. I found that this stuff really doesn't cost THAT much more than what I was using before.  I haven't replaced my clinique makeup but I barely use it at all.

--Using only natural cleaning products around the house: Dr. Bronners, vinegar, and baking soda.   Works great.

--Air purifying plants.  So far I have a peace lily, some gerber daisys and a snake plant.  Need to get more!

--Using plastic for food as little as possible.  We replaced most of our tupperware with glass containers.  

--Cotton clothes for the baby as much as possible (although I know I'll have to have warm stuff that is fleece/synthetic for our cold winter).  One thing that I found out from my research is that fed law requires baby sleepware over 1 year to be treated with fire retardants!!!! (the whole sorry story of this is told in the Tribune article).  So, I'm already planning on making all of my own sleepware once they get older and not using anything store-bought.

 

What I've had to let go:

--Furniture.  The furniture is a tough one - it's so frustrating! Really pisses me off.  I really can't afford to get non-chemical furniture, I really wouldn't even know where to look!  The only thing I can think of is wood furniture but that means no comfy couch.  Another idea is an organic futon, but again that's really expensive....

--Car seats.  I did some research and they are pretty much all full of chemicals.  Ugh.  I bought a new one a few months ago and I'm just hoping that it does a lot of off-gassing before the baby comes.  

 

Anyway, thanks for posting this!  It has been weighing on me a lot.....glad to hear others are thinking about it too.

post #3 of 19

Yes, you are not alone. I just had the most agonizing time figuring out if I should have our carpets cleaned (this is my MIL house and she is coming in 3 weeks to stay)! I called so many places and asked so many questions about their products and what they would be using. I finally had to go with the one that seemed safest and have every window in the house open all day and night since it was done yesterday. After torturing myself about when and if we should do it, I finally decided I would do it now and hopefully by the time baby is old enough to be down on the ground rolling. crawling etc that the carpets would be OK and just used the company that seemed to have the safest product. I opted not to have the couches done because  we all spend so much time sitting, laying on it I didn't feel comfortable. These things keep me up at night.

 

We have totally changed over laundry detergent, cleaning products, do a vinegar rinse in my dishwasher etc. BUT I still love my Origins make-up and I figure it is not the worst of the worst and I LOVE it and I am not giving it up.

 

We have made tons of changes around here but there is so much that I know we could still do. It doesn't help that MIL and sometimes even DH think I am a little coo-coo about this stuff.

 

Plastics is a biggie for me and we use glass now as much as possible. We also quit using the microwave. I figure you really can't get completely away from it and I could spend a fortune and make myself a nut case and still have exposure to toxins at every turn....sigh.  I try to combat it from the nutrition end too and do lots of foods like berries, cilantro and tumeric which are going to be good antioxidants and blood purifiers. Juicing with fresh fruits and veggies that are going to keep our systems "clean". The kids get epsom salt baths to pull out toxins etc. I think it is easier for me to do some of these life style changes than try to avoid everything....it's just impossible especially when they are bigger and are out at school, practice, friends houses etc.

post #4 of 19

I am totally with you about all this!

 

Thanks for all the great ideas of other things I should be looking out for!  Must check out the skin-deep site!

 

- When DS was tiny until crawling, he spent *a lot* of time on foam puzzle floor mats... which, it was later revealed, have a horrible chemical in them. irked.gif

 

- FYI, for kids' PJs, you don't have to make them, you just have to shop around.  You can find non-flame-retardant-treated.  We always got DS hanna andersson long johns.  They are marked with a huge orange warning tag "wear snug fitting" because they are *not* treated.  (We stock up on them when there are sales for under $20 a pair at an outlet, and they are all still in good enough condition for baby2.)

 

- 100% Polyester microfleece PJs (those 1-piece ones that they can wear over cotton PJs) are *not* treated, because it is not a flammable fabric.

 

- We use glass and metal for cooking, we have no more non-stick, and we do store in plastic boxes but only once food has cooled down, and we never microwave plastic.  We only use stainless water bottles and thermoses.

 

- We use as little household cleaning products as possible.

 

- Our bed & topper are 10 years old so I think they pretty much finished off-gassing long ago (before we were aware of it duh.gif ).  It is also covered with a PUL mattress cover which is air tight.

 

- We recently got my son an IKEA latex junior mattress and haven't aired it out enough. redface.gif It is currently wrapped airtight on all 6 sides with an oversized PUL mattress cover and the smell doesn't come through but I do really need to air it out.

 

- We reallllllllly need to paint our bathroom but I am *not* doing that until baby is born at least.

 

- DS has always used toxin free shampoo and soap but DH and I still use regular stuff a lot. eyesroll.gif

 

- I have been trying to eat as little processed food as possible this pregnancy, but we don't eat much processed stuff anyway.  We always peel fruits and veggies for pesticide residues on the surface, and buy organic as often as is financially feasible.

 

Keep the ideas coming!

post #5 of 19

This is such a sore subject for me, too! I do so much to avoid what we can (eating organic/home-grown veggies, no microwave, natural cleaning & health products, etc)... but then I walk outside and know that just BREATHING is bad for you these days.

 

Anne - I'm glad you mentioned airing out the car seat for awhile. I was thinking of getting ours this weekend, then thought no, that's silly.... but if it can off-gas as much as possible before baby ever gets in it, probably much healthier!

 

I rarely put my kids in real 'sleepwear' because of the fire retardant issue. And I have made a tons of jammies over the years :)

post #6 of 19

I'm right there with you ladies! It's been baby steps for us over the last few years but we are down to a lot less chemicals in our home than average.

When I did my doula training back in Feb of 2011, my trainer and another woman in the class were totally against BPA and told us a bunch of stuff about how it's in EVERYTHING! I got rid of almost all of our tupperware and pretty much store only in glass. 

I've been using Shaklee's basic H for about 5 years now for tough cleaning. Everything else gets the baking soda/salt/vinegar treatment. 

I've also been making my own laundry soap for over 3 years. For you cloth diaper mamas that read this- the one trick I've learned is to grate the soap in last for a regular load and omit it for diapers, then there shouldn't be any build up! 

It's been about a year since I started using Dr. Bronners & baking soda on my hair. I don't use any on the girls hair, but do put in some coconut oil if it's getting hard to brush. 

I have about 10 houseplants and am always wanting more. I really need to stop buying succulants thought :) They come here to die. 

Oh and I got rid (put it in the basement,) of our microwave about a month after finding out about this baby. It hasn't been a hard adjustment for me, as I'm not a huge leftover person, but DH still misses it. He also loves hotpockets so he's struggling with that one! 

 

Alaskanne- I like your "things I've had to let go of." Because, really, unless we want to end up crazy, there are going to be toxins somewhere, kwim? 

So, things I've let go of:

Carseats, furniture, matress... big stuff. I'm sure when the time comes, I'll research when we need to replace these things, but for right now, we just can't afford to splurge on organics. Do they even make organic carseats? 

food- I would love to buy organic everything! But, that's just not feesible either.  I do try to, when I can find decent prices. I feel better buying local in season anyway, but that's a different post. 

 

Yeah, it's pretty scary how much crap is in everything, isn't it! Great post, though! I'm loving hearing what everyone else is doing! 

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

I'm so glad to hear that you other mamas are looking into this stuff as well.  I have to get back to work, but real quick here are three infant car seats I found that have no or very low toxins.  They have to be in the specific color that is listed:

 

Graco Snugride 35 in Laguna Bay (I had this on my registry but now it has been sold out for a long time and I can't find it anywhere)

Chicco Keyfit 30 in Limonata  (we're getting this one)

Combi Shuttle 33 in Cranberry Noche

 

Britax did sign a pledge to eliminate bromine and chlorine in their carseats by the end of 2012, but that is a little too late for us.

 

Here is a website I use to run products through before I purchase them:  http://www.healthystuff.org/

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaliki_kila View Post

Britax did sign a pledge to eliminate bromine and chlorine in their carseats by the end of 2012, but that is a little too late for us.

 

 

Well, maybe not. I always buy a Britax for my kids for when they outgrow the infant seat. I figure it will be about April 2013 before I need a Britax. I will have to remember to look at the manufacture date which Britax always has right on the box! I found a girl on Etsy that makes really cute car seat covers for Britax and a few other brands. She made the one that my DS sits in. I think I will have her make one for the new Britax too. It doesn't take care of any chemicals that would be coming off the plastic/foam pieces but at least baby will be sitting in pre-washed cotton fabric.

 

(I just went and looked up the girl that did mine. She doesn't sell on their anymore but this was another girl doing them http://www.etsy.com/listing/99686549/britax-marathon-replacment-cover-giraffe?ref=sr_gallery_3&ga_search_query=carseat+cover+britax&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_min=0&ga_max=0&ga_includes%5B%5D=tags&ga_search_type=all

post #9 of 19

OMG I feel the same way. I can get totally overwhelmed and my DH sometimes thinks I'm over the top. I try to focus on some things and others let go.

 

I eat organic as much as possible, go with low toxicity rated body products from skin deep, use plastic as little as possible and definitely don't microwave in it, we got rid of all the last non-stick pan that we had earlier this year...and try to use low toxicity cleaning products. On the cleaning products, DH is not convinced on the issues and keeps using the 409 that is leftover from when I used to use it. Should just get rid of it.

 

We're going to switch beds before the baby - since DH and I merged households last year, we have "my bed" and "his bed." I mean we sleep in the same bed, but it was my bed before. But I think we'll be switching to "his bed" before the baby comes. The headboard that I had is this wrought iron open curlyque design, that I think is not good for a baby. His is a flat panel headboard. But the issue will be which mattress do we use. Mine is terribly old more than 10 yrs and his is a new one from Ikea. I haven't researched it, but I've heard the Ikea foam ones are less toxic than others....

 

We did decide to get a co-sleeper and will be splurging for an organic mattress for that. It is on our registry, but so far no on has purchased it.

 

The flame retardant issue is so frustrating! Especially the sleep wear! I saw that Graco also said they will ban certain flame retardants from their products. The skeptic in me wonders what they're replacing it with... no one is talking about that.

 

As for the carseat issue. I saw that article at the healthystuff.org website too. I suggest looking at the actual ratings if you're interested. I ended up with the Chicco in Cubes. I was planning to get limonata even though it is super ugly - and then saw on a local mamas list someone selling a brand new in box one in limonata. I was like this is great, it's cheaper than new and I don't have to worry about the issues of getting a carseat used. Anyway, when we got home, she texted and said she was wrong on the color. I was so worried because that was the main reason I got it from her. But it was the actually the cubes color which is only slightly higher rated than the limonata. I've had it airing out for the past 2 months, so I'm feeling comfortable with that for when the baby arrives.

 

We did paint our bathroom, but stayed with my parents during the bulk of the work so I wouldn't be exposed to the paint or the lead dust from smoothing the walls with old paint. We did get the no VOC low odor paint which helped too.

 

There are so many toxins we're exposed to on a daily basis, it is really hard.

post #10 of 19

Oh, here's the direct link to the carseat ratings: http://www.healthystuff.org/bw.080311.carseats.php

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tropicana74 View Post

Well, maybe not. I always buy a Britax for my kids for when they outgrow the infant seat. I figure it will be about April 2013 before I need a Britax. I will have to remember to look at the manufacture date which Britax always has right on the box! I found a girl on Etsy that makes really cute car seat covers for Britax and a few other brands. She made the one that my DS sits in. I think I will have her make one for the new Britax too. It doesn't take care of any chemicals that would be coming off the plastic/foam pieces but at least baby will be sitting in pre-washed cotton fabric.

 

(I just went and looked up the girl that did mine. She doesn't sell on their anymore but this was another girl doing them http://www.etsy.com/listing/99686549/britax-marathon-replacment-cover-giraffe?ref=sr_gallery_3&ga_search_query=carseat+cover+britax&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_min=0&ga_max=0&ga_includes%5B%5D=tags&ga_search_type=all

I've seen these and have thought about making covers for our older but still within the range of the expiration date. I just wondered and have never found an answer about one thing: Is it safe or does it take off of the safety when you use a car seat cover that is not made by the manufacturer? Technically that would be altering the carseat, so I haven't been comfortable doing that with one of ours. 

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by purposefuldoula View Post

I've seen these and have thought about making covers for our older but still within the range of the expiration date. I just wondered and have never found an answer about one thing: Is it safe or does it take off of the safety when you use a car seat cover that is not made by the manufacturer? Technically that would be altering the carseat, so I haven't been comfortable doing that with one of ours. 

I think that it always up for debate. I looked at the replacement covers that Britax had on their website and didn't like any of the patterns they had but I could not put my son in my daughters pink Britax and it was only 2 years old so it wasn't even close to expired. So, I did opt to buy from etsy.  


For me, I never felt like it affected the safety. All the hard wear stayed in place, all the foam stayed in place, straps etc. were all as they were before and nothing changed from that perspective. There was no extra padding on the cover that was added or taken away (it was the same thickness, lining etc as the original). So, I was comfortable with it.

 

I am big on proper car seat usage and strap heights and laws and all that. I always kept my kids facing backward looong after the laws said I could turn them around. I tend to err of the side of caution with car seats but I was comfortable with the replacement cover. I can see though how someone would have a different comfort level with that. If Britax only wants me using their covers they better come up with some cuter patterns. winky.gif

post #13 of 19
Yeah I'm concerned about it but not much more so than I would be otherwise. A lot of it is hard to avoid. With the things that are easier to change, IME it's easiest to make changes as they come up in everyday life rather than all at once. That's one of my green living pet peeves, not so much about toxins specifically but just in general: "simplify your life and save the planet...buy buying all this other super special eco crap!" Plus then what are you supposed to do with the toxic blacklisted stuff, give it away so someone else who lacks the means or knowledge to chose an alternative can be poisoned by it? I'd rather use something until it reaches the end of its useful life and then replace it with a more conscious purchase if I can. I buy a lot of stuff secondhand and try to think long term with new items. Like when DS was born we chose to use a convertible carseat from day 1, rather than getting an infant seat *and* a convertible carseat; and then we saved a lot of his baby gear to use with this next one so we wouldn't have to buy the same plastic stuff again.
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cieloazul View Post

Like when DS was born we chose to use a convertible carseat from day 1, rather than getting an infant seat *and* a convertible carseat; and then we saved a lot of his baby gear to use with this next one so we wouldn't have to buy the same plastic stuff again.

I always admire people who can do that. I always thought it made sense since they are in an infant seat for such a short period (about 4 months in our case) BUT with having multiple kiddos to get in/out of the car, being able to pick up that seat and carry it in/out of the house (especially if baby is sleeping) is priceless to me! When DS was born I had a 5 year old, 2 year old and 16 month old....

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lulubikes View Post

As for the carseat issue. I saw that article at the healthystuff.org website too. I suggest looking at the actual ratings if you're interested. I ended up with the Chicco in Cubes. I was planning to get limonata even though it is super ugly - and then saw on a local mamas list someone selling a brand new in box one in limonata. I was like this is great, it's cheaper than new and I don't have to worry about the issues of getting a carseat used. Anyway, when we got home, she texted and said she was wrong on the color. I was so worried because that was the main reason I got it from her. But it was the actually the cubes color which is only slightly higher rated than the limonata. I've had it airing out for the past 2 months, so I'm feeling comfortable with that for when the baby arrives.

 

That's kind of funny you say that because my MIL was going to get us the carseat and then when she saw the Limonata, she questioned us on the color and said it was ugly and now she won't buy it!  I think it's cute :)  So we'll just end up getting it.  I went to Babies R Us today and saw the carseat in person.  They didn't have Limonata but they did have the Cubes on display and it looks like a very good carseat.  Too bad cars themselves are full of toxins.

 

We went to the nursery today and bought a peace lily, an aloe vera plant, and a spider plant.  They are good at filtering the air and they are easy to take care of and don't need direct sunlight.

post #16 of 19

"100% Polyester microfleece PJs (those 1-piece ones that they can wear over cotton PJs) are *not* treated, because it is not a flammable fabric."

This is not completely true.  Here's some information from Jennifer Taggart, The Smart Mama:

"most synthetic fiber sleepwear has a flame retardant inserted into the fabric fiber, including most polyester fabrics, as opposed to the fabric being “chemically treated” with a flame retardant. Fiber with flame retardants inserted into the fabric fiber are considered chemically stable. These manufacturers may claim that the sleepwear is not treated with a chemical flame retardant, and that’s true. The sleepwear is not “chemically treated.” But that doesn’t mean it is free of flame retardants. If children’s sleepwear is synthetic, flame retardant is present, whether the fabric is treated with flame retardant or the flame retardant is bonded to the fiber."

Sleepwear up to 9 months doesn't have to be treated, but after that if you see the blue hang tag that says "flame resistant" you will know the garment has been treated.  It is always best to dress children in breathable natural fibers, organic if possible.  Good luck!

post #17 of 19

What do you all suggest about hand me down sleepwear? I really like to use the used clothing, but I don't want to put my baby in something that has chemicals in it. I keep wondering which items might be treated and have no way of knowing. But then I wonder if it wears out after a certain amount of "airing out" or washes and I don't really need to worry about it.

post #18 of 19

Quote:

Originally Posted by lulubikes View Post

What do you all suggest about hand me down sleepwear?

 

I'd be inclined to use hand-me-downs before buying something new. With zero data to back this claim, it just seems like it would be better overall from a toxic/carbon footprint POV. I mean, that super fancy all organic sleeper was made somewhere, somehow...it took water to grow the cotton, and fuel to harvest it and transport it, etc. With secondhand things, I feel like the damage is already done so best to eek out as much use from the product as possible before it finds itself in a landfill.

post #19 of 19

when i was pregnant with dd i made a lot of changes - switched to making my own cleaners, body care, laundry, using glass for food storage and non-stick cookware - and i'm pretty comfortable with where our home is at as far as toxins. i made every change we could afford to make, and i made peace with not being able to afford the rest. we can't afford an organic mattress, but we got an ikea one and they use boric acid as a flame retardant rather than some of the nastier chems. i've had to just deal with the fact that the military housing we live in has the walls painted and carpets cleaned every time we move in.

but my current frustration now is with toys for dd. she's moved beyond a lot of the soft structured stuff, and i can't afford wood and porcelain. i've been trying to find her a baby doll as a big sister gift. i wanted one with the weight and look of a real baby, because i was going to get tiny diapers and carrier and stuff so that when i take care of the new baby dd can take care of her baby and not feel left out. but, all of the ones that look like real babies are made of vinyl, and what's worse, most of them are scented. god only knows what chemicals are used to scent them. i spent a really depressing 3 hours searching the web. so i'm getting her a soft structured baby that's as close to real looking as i could find, but i'm disappointed.

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