Toxic Chemicals, Are Your Children Being Exposed?
You do what you can to keep your little ones safe and healthy in this world we live in. You put your household cleaners out of reach and make sure the front door is securely locked. You tuck them in at night with a story and a kiss, wishing them sweet dreams. Unfortunately, your children are not safe! While they sleep, they are being exposed to toxic chemicals found in that crib or bed you so lovingly tucked them into.
Liver poisoning, thyroid problems and altered learning, memory and behavior may be caused by Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs. These chemicals are used as fire retardants and are found in mattresses and other furniture. PBDE levels in people and the environment have been rising rapidly in recent years, particularly in North America, where the use of PBDEs is highest. In Europe, foods, especially fish, are thought to be a major source of exposure. But in North America PBDEs are much more prevalent in consumer products than they are in Europe. In Sweden, PBDEs have been banned.
You might be thinking that if these PBDEs were so dangerous, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) would know about them and do something. The fact is, they do know. Last year the EPA announced no new manufacture or import of these chemicals can occur without first being subject to EPA evaluation. No systematic monitoring of PBDEs in the bodies of US residents is underway, and no plans have been made to assess the risk posed by the millions of pounds of PBDEs that are already found in furniture and other consumer products in people's homes. To be fair, the EPA has stated that they have not concluded that PBDEs pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. Of course, they have also acknowledged there is evidence that these chemicals may cause liver toxicity, thyroid toxicity, and neurodevelopmental toxicity.
What can we do to protect ourselves and our children from these chemicals?
Get as much information as you can about how your household furniture is made and what chemicals are used in the process. You might consider using organic products that are naturally made with no harmful chemicals. We can never be completely safe from the many chemicals we're exposed to on a daily basis, but we can reduce them significantly. We can look into the faces of our children and know that we are doing our part to keep them safe in an unsafe world.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics; http://www.epa.gov
Northwest Environment Watch; http://www.northwestwatch.org
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