Question: My young son is constantly going through cabinets, crawling into small spaces, and placing random objects in his mouth. I do my best to childproof our home, but I worry about all of the chemicals he may be exposed to. Do you have ideas for childproofing that could be considered green or health related?
Answer: Great question. It’s totally developmentally appropriate for kids, like your son, to explore any place or object they find—and to use their mouths doing so. Which means it is very important for you to go around and see if and where you can protect your son against the environmental toxins found in most homes. Many of these substances and chemicals can greatly affect young children since their developing bodies are incredibly vulnerable.
Here are several “greenproofing” actions you can take to remove things like pesticides and other common chemicals found in most homes that are often overlooked when parents childproof.
- Wipe surfaces. Dust is the final resting place for many toxins in home. Remove as much as you can with a damp cloth, not a duster—these spread the dust around instead of trapping it. If the cloth contains a plant based cleaning product, all the better. Then, keep up with future dust accumulations. If you’re worried about lead dust, be sure to a plant-based detergent to your wiping solution.
- Get rid of non-stick cookware. Its coatings can emit perfluorochemicals, another class of endocrine disruptors. Use cast iron, stainless steel, or enamel coated cast iron instead.
- Beware of perfluorochemicals. These are also found in stain-resistant fabric treatments. Get some tight-weave slipcovers for any furniture that’s received them. If buying new, don’t ask for stainguarding treatment.
- Banish chlorine. The chlorine in dishwasher detergent, laundry bleach, and treated tap water is easily volatized into inhalable vapors when heated. Use a drinking water filter, a bath/shower filter, and chlorine-free products to keep it out of young lungs and bodies.
- Test and filter. Remember to consistently test your tap water and filter accordingly.
- Make a clean sweep. Check your bathroom cabinet because unless you have an all-natural personal care routine, the conventional products you’re using are filled with unhealthy chemical ingredients.
- Clean indoor air. Get in the habit of “cleaning” your indoor air by opening windows for at least 10 minutes a day, even in the winter. The EPA says that indoor air can be 3 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air, even in an urban environment.
- Remove foam pads. Take out the foam pads under your area rugs. They’re key sources of toxic flame retardants that can interfere with the endocrine system. Replace them with natural latex no-skid versions.