Are toys, dry cleaning, and pretty lawns dangerous to your kids?
Maybe, maybe not, but the evidence is certainly mounting.
According to a recent Harvard study, common chemicals in
your house can wreak havoc on your child’s brain development. These toxic
chemicals may be responsible for neurodevelopmental problems such as autism,
ADHD, and dyslexia, but they may also be the culprit behind harder to pin down
problems like slower development, lower math scores, hyperactivity, poor motor
skills, aggressive behaviors, or just simply brains that never realize their
The study is not conclusive, but there is plenty of evidence
connecting neurodevelopmental issues and toxic chemicals found in dry cleaning,
flame retardants (used on furniture, toys, and clothing), pesticides commonly
sprayed on lawns, and even tap water.
I’ve long said in reference to my own son’s autoimmune disorder
and the neurodevelopmental issues that plague plenty of kids I know, that the
cause is right under our nose. Many of these conditions have increased as more
and more wonder-chemicals and artificially-created additives infiltrate our
lives leading, at least this mom, to
believe there is an obvious connection. I think one day we’ll look back, as we
do now with cigarettes, and think “duh, we were killing ourselves.”
With the Harvard study, even more dots are being connected
between our society’s free and easy use of chemicals and the behavioral and
learning problems that grow ever more prevalent in our kids. We readily accept
all the new ‘advances,’ never thinking to look behind the curtain. Doesn’t our
lawn look lovely? What? There’s no proof that chemicals cause….you-name-the-problem.
This is not a situation unique to the US or to developed
nations. The Harvard study labels this a global problem in need of a global
While the lobbyists crank it up to full gear and the skeptics
attempt to quiet down the Harvard minds, we as parents would be wise to see
this evidence as the canary in the coal mine it is. What can you do?
Don’t spray pesticides blindly on your lawn.
This one’s easy. A few dandelions are not much to suffer in exchange for your
child’s unencumbered brain development. Besides risking your child, pesticides
kill bees and other beneficial insects, as well as poison our drinking water
Keep your children away from dry cleaning.
When you pick up the dry cleaning, put it in the trunk. When
you get home, take
the plastic off and air out your clothes a bit before bringing them in the
house. And save the picking-up-the-dry-cleaning errand for a time when you
don’t have kids in the car. Another option is to wash your clothes at home and
pull out the old iron. I have a silent but understood no-ironing clause in my
wedding vows, so I’d be a hypocrite if I said this is my plan, but perhaps you
are a better parent than I.
Consider carefully before you purchase
flame retardant covered furniture, toys, and clothes. I know it’s hard to get
away from the flame retardant coated jammies (kind of ironic that the
government mandates that we poison our children’s clothing), but at the very
least wash them with hot water before letting your children wear them and at
the very most – consider some non-traditional sleepwear. Boxers and a t-shirt
have always been the sleepwear of choice for the men in this house. (Sometimes
my teenagers just sleep in their clothes because changing is such a taxing
chore. So who needs jammies, really?) If you have a toddler or infant in the
house, be sure to wash new toys carefully and read the labels – look for toys
that have not been infused with flame retardants.
Have your tap water tested. I give
this advice warily. I know there are plenty of water testing companies outinformation
here. What should you be testing for? Here’s a short list of the newly
identified neurotoxins from the Harvard study – manganese, fluoride,
chlorphyrifos, DDT, tetrachloroethylene, polybrominated diphenylethers.
there looking to make money off your fears. Find a reputable company you trust
or better yet, have your water tested through your extension service. In PA,
you can find
It has long been clear to me that
as our society has developed and more chemicals have entered our lives, our
health has deteriorated. It has also become clear to me that we cannot rely on
our government to protect us from these risks. I do believe there are some
political leaders out there who truly care about the people, but they seem to
be increasingly outnumbered. We must do our own homework when it comes to
protecting our family’s health and not leave it to a government that is
beholden to the people who hold the purse strings (which would not be us).
You can buy my book Live Intentionally: 65 Challenges for a Healthier, Happier Life from Amazon. In it you'll find stories, recipes, resources, and motivation to create a more intentional life. If you've read it - I'd love a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Thanks a million!
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I'm a true believer in Living Intentionally. In fact, I wrote a book about it - Live Intentionally: 65 Challenges for a Healthier, Happier Life. I teach workshops on the topic and constantly seek to discover more ways to make every moment count.
I'm also a reluctantly busy mother of three remarkable children, one large partially-trained horse who seems to have a vested interest in unseating me, two bossy mares, an almost-daily changing number of chickens, one dog with impulse control issues but a sunny outlook, and 3 perfect kitties. I am blessed with an incredibly patient husband who can fix or build or tolerate almost anything. We live on 6 acres on a hillside in South Central Pennsylvania where anything left unattended ends up at the bottom in the creek (including the children).
I'm currently at work publishing a young adult novel (if you'd like to publish it, contact my agent Tina Schwartz at The Purcell Agency!!) and madly editing a memoir entitled, Cowboy Mom: How an Untrained Horse Taught Me to be a Better Parent and Person.
In my spare moments, I run, hike, cook, and drink much too much wine.