Worried about your child’s health? 

Take a look at these recommendations:

1) Bust that dust – According to the experts, frequent vacuuming, wet mopping and dusting with a damp cloth is the best way to limit exposure to toxins. “House dust is a major source of children’s exposures to toxic substances including lead which, even at very low levels, is known to be harmful to the developing brain,” said Professor Bruce Lanphear of Simon Fraser University, a world-leading expert on children’s environmental health who serves as an adviser to CPCHE. “The developing brain of a fetus or young child is particularly susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of lead, mercury and other toxic chemicals,” Lanphear added. “An infant will absorb about 50 percent of ingested lead, whereas an adult absorbs about 10 percent. This, combined with children’s frequent hand-to-mouth behavior, places children at much greater risk.”

2) Go green when you clean The researchers also recommend saving money and reducing chemical exposure by switching to simple, non-toxic cleaners. Baking soda, for example, can be used as a scouring powder for tubs and sinks, while vinegar mixed with water can be used as a cleaning solution for windows, surfaces and floors. Meanwhile, avoiding the use of air fresheners and selecting fragrance-free laundry detergents can reduce children’s exposures to the chemicals used to make fragrance or “parfum,” which have been linked to disruption of normal hormone function.

3) Renovate right While upgrading a home, it is important for children and pregnant women to stay away from the areas being renovated, according to the researchers.  Otherwise, they may be exposed to contaminant-laden renovation dust and toxic fumes from products such as paints, caulking and glues. The researchers stress the importance of sealing off the areas undergoing renovation from the rest of the house by using plastic sheeting.  They also recommend increased, careful dusting during this time.

4) Get drastic with plastic Parents should be selective in the use of plastic products, the researchers say, particularly when it comes to serving and storing food.  They caution that parents should never use plastic containers or wraps in the microwave, even if the product is labeled “microwave safe”, because chemicals may migrate into the food or beverage. Eating fresh or frozen foods can reduce exposure to Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical used in the lining of most food and drink cans. BPA has previously been linked with a number of potential health effects, including impacts on the developing brain and disruption of endocrine (hormone) function. Also, parents should avoid buying any products made of PVC, commonly known as vinyl, which have been recently banned from some children’s toys due to health worries, but can still be found in bibs, shower curtains and raincoats.

5) Dish safer fish For dinner, choose fish such as Atlantic mackerel, herring, rainbow trout, wild or canned salmon and tilapia to reduce children’s exposure to mercury, a metal that is toxic to the brain. If serving canned tuna, look for “light” varieties rather than albacore or white tuna. If you catch fish in local waters, check with area advisories to ensure that it is safe to eat. To see the full brochure, visit www.healthyenvironmentforkids.ca.