Thursday, February 28, 2008

How Safe Are Your Child's Items?

Child safety used to be a whole lot easier. You made sure the cabinets didn't have anything accessible that could harm your kids, you bought cabinet latches where necessary. You used the proper car seats and along with covering electrical outlets, made sure your kids were properly dressed for the weather. Fast forward to today and there are major concerns about the safety of the toys being sold for kids; in particular are concerns regarding the plastics used in making those toys and it's not just toys you need to be concerned about.


When you buy your kids sunblock in your local grocery story did you ever consider that a possible reaction between the chemicals with the bottle and the chemicals in the plastics, specifically the phthalates, could affect your children's health? Of course not, especially when you have an impatient child miffed enough you even stopped on the way to the pool or beach to buy sunblock in the first place. However, there's riveting scientific studies that point to a large probability.


But what are phthalates? They are a family of chemical compounds, that soften plastic, and even help fragrances linger longer. Bisphenol A makes plastics clear and strong, and is in resins that coat the inside of canned foods. So what's the concern for? There is heavy evidence that suggests these compounds may affect the developing reproductive system in children according to the EPA's Earl Gray who studies Phthalates in animals. Dr. Gray says, "In the rat, we know that in utero the, several of the phthalates disrupt the testes function in the male so that he produces lower levels of hormones."


Finding out the levels that will impact humans is the challenge but the fact a threat may be there is driving many parents away from plastic bottles and sippy cups. One thing parents can do is buy skin care products that are sold in glass or more and more companies are advertising their plastic packaging is "phthalate free". One key to determining if a plastic has phthalates is if it contacts a phthalates. Also the letters "PVC" or the number 3 are all tell-tale signs. The number 7 is used for the chemical Bisphenol, which is also found in canned food.


A sobering study by the Centers for Disease Control found phthalates in the urine of 75% of the people tested. Bisphenol was present in 95% of the study subjects. So, these chemicals aren't rare. As the studies continue for determining the long range health effects in humans, be careful of the plastic you buy and also opt for children's toys that are made with non-toxic materials including the glue that holds them together, when in doubt - read the labels and look for those other markings on plastic if you're not sure. Choosing a brand name you know and trust such as Melissa and Doug Toys for example is also a good move parents can make.

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