A report released Tuesday says the man-made chemicals in products we use every day-toys, perfumes, beverage containers and more-are likely responsible for at least some cancers, birth defects and psychiatric problems. How do parents approach the use of chemicals in their homes? Yahoo News asked for some perspectives. Here's one.
FIRST PERSON | United Nations-sponsored research released Tuesday links man-made chemicals in everyday products to increased birth deformities, hormonal cancers and psychiatric diseases, reports Reuters.
As a 25-year mom of two girls and two boys, those findings don't surprise. They do concern me, however. As a special-needs teacher and health writer, I've followed findings on phthalate and BPA (Bisphenol A)-- chemical plastics connected to health problems-- for years.
Am I paranoid and terrified by the findings? No. We live in a chemical-drenched society. It would be impossible to avoid them all. Do findings cause me to make more mindful choices? Absolutely. I avoid excessive use of products made with plastics. To prevent ingestion, I've quit serving foods in plastic. I use fewer plastic disposables and opt for paper over plastic. I look for lunch containers that are BPA-free. I serve fewer foods from cans. I buy metal water bottles. On the rare occasions when we drink from plastic bottles, I don't refrigerate them. I microwave less and don't heat on Styrofoam or plastic. This helps prevent plastic chemicals from leaching into food or beverages.
When our children were babies, I breastfed and never gave them bottles. I also avoided plastic teething rings (both major sources of BPA and phthalates). Unfortunately, when our children (ages 24, 22, 20 and 14) were young, we did use sipper cups (another plastic contamination source). I used them only at mealtimes and didn't allow kids to chew on cups or carry them everywhere.
I wish I'd realized how dangerous plastic was then. If I was parenting little ones now, I'd definitely look for products made without phthalates or BPA.
The Reuters report says the U.S. now bans the use of these chemicals. That's good, but it may be too late for kids already exposed.
-- Marilisa Sachteleben, Grand Haven, Mich.