Archive for the ‘Children’s Health’ Category

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer: Product Review

I had been looking for an alcohol-free hand sanitizer for some time now that I could use on the go when I would not have access to soap and water, like at the playground, or after changing a diaper in the car (not while in motion) when we are out and about. I knew the alcohol-based ones were not safe for kids. If a child ingested it, they could get alcohol poisoning, so I didn’t even want alcohol-based sanitizers in the house knowing I can’t use it without my toddler begging for some as well. I prefer to avoid the ER.

Also, Triclosan is toxic, so that was out as well. As well as parabens, phthalates, PEG compounds, etc.

So a few weeks ago I stumbled upon CleanWell Hand Sanitizer. It claimed to be all natural, alcohol and triclosan free and kills 99.99% of germs, including MRSA, staph, E. coli, and Salmonella. It is botanically based, and no pesticides or chemicals are used. Plants are also a renewable resource. No petrochemicals or harmful byproducts are created during harvesting or manufacturing.

cleanwell6oz

OK, I gotta be honest here, I LOVE this stuff. It smells great – a nice herbal smell. One or two sprays is all you need. One 1 ounce bottle will yield 225+ sprays, so you get 4 times as many uses as the gel sanitizers.

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer is safe, no parabens, phthalates, alcohol or other ickies. Thymus Vulgaris Oil is the active ingredient (hence the herbal scent). EWG’s cosmetic’s database does not list Clean Well Hand Sanitizer, but I entered the individual ingredients and everything was in the safe (0-2) category except citric acid which was a 4 (it seems mostly for skin sensitivities).

It’s important to note that there are good bacteria and bad bacteria, so using antibacterial products on a regular basis is not good or recommended. In fact, the over use of antibiotics and antibacterial products cases viruses to mutate creating superbugs and strains that are resistant to medication. So while CleanWell is a great product, it, along with other hand sanitizers and antibacterial products, should never be used on a regular basis. It should only be used when hand washing with regular soap and water is not an option (think port-a-potty, wiping noses in the car, etc.)

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer is available in purse/travel size (1 oz) and regular size (6 oz). I’d recommend several to keep in various places – your purse, the diaper bag(s), at work – so you will have it when needed. I have one in each diaper bag (we have 3), in my purse and on the changing table (easy for between kids when I am changing both).

CleanWell has a whole family of products including CleanWell Sanitizing Wipes, CleanWell Foaming Hand Wash and the CleanWell Hand Sanitizer.

Related Articles
Antibacterial Products Contain Toxin, Triclosan
California Baby Sunscreen Product Review
BPA Free Bottles, Sippy Cups and More!

Organic Milk vs Hormone Free Milk

Alison asked if hormone-free milk was as good as organic.

As for as Organic milk vs hormone free, neither will have the hormone added, but the hormone “free”-only will still have pesticide residue. Organic milk comes from cows fed an organic diet – grain or grass. In most cases, organic cows are treated better (more room per cow, most organic cows graze in an open pasture), while conventional cows don’t have much room to move around. So that to me even means healthier milk since cows treated better tend to be healthier anyway, thus not needing antibiotics, etc.

art_rbst_free_milk_cnn

Hormone free vs organic – cows naturally produce hormones, so the milk is not entirely hormone free, however no synthetic hormones are added (which to me is still better than conventional milk). However, it seems as though “hormone-free” is more of a marketing term.

CNN also reported on this topic pointing out research has shown there is no difference in milk from cows treated with rbST and cows that were not. However, the author echos many who feel “science” and the FDA has let us down before and consumers are questioning the safety of, well everything.

But then again, Natural News debunks that and gives a glowing review of why adding hormones is not good, including pus getting into the milk from these cows who often get mastitis due to the overproduction of milk and these cows are then given antibiotics to treat the mastitis infection. Now, who wants all that in their milk?

Benefits of Organic Milk
Here is another very good article showing the benefits of organic milk vs conventional milk. Such benefits include less pesticide contamination, more vitamins and antioxidants, improves the quality of breastmilk and helps prevent asthma and eczema in children. Read the entire article for more benefits.

SFMilk-FamilyAs for as choosing a good organic milk, first things first – Horizon milk is not really organic, which is really sad considering it is the best selling brand of organic milk. There are several links on there, one of which is a link to thorough research of many organic brands of milk rated on how “organic” they really are. So if you choose to stay/go organic, you can choose a good brand. Also, you can usually sign up on the manufacturer’s website and get coupons — for example, Stonyfield Farm or Organic Valley may send out coupons in a newsletter.

We eat the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies (mostly these are the ones where the outer skin is exposed like peaches, grapes, strawberries, potatoes, apples…) these are the ones that will have the most pesticides and bananas for example, do not have near as many pesticides since it is protected by a thick peel. So I get organic apples, but not bananas. I say that to give you an example that there are tradeoffs. You don’t have to go 100% organic on everything. To me, milk is one of those areas where the benefit definitely shows organic to be better.

Certainly cost is a factor. I get our milk from Whole Foods. If you drink a lot of milk or you have room in your freezer, Whole Foods gives you 10% off if you purchase a case of milk (4 gallons). We go through that in about 10-14 days, so I do this sometimes, but it’s a little hard to drink that much milk when we still give our 3 year old whole milk. And I am not sure about freezing milk, have not tried it, but know people who have with great success. And as mentioned, you can usually sign up to get newsletters which may contain coupons.

Related Articles
Food manufacturers confess they have no idea if their food is safe
Grass-fed beef is healthier
Is your organic food really organic?

Food Manufacturers Confess They Have No Idea if Their Food is Safe

By Janelle Sorensen
(Thanks to Janelle for her permission to re-post this article.)

I, like many others, have lost track of all the food recalls that have happened in the last 18 months. Pot pies, pizzas, peanuts, tomatoes, egg rolls, spices, flour, and more. The number of illnesses and the amount of food thrown away is staggering.

Fortunately, none of the tainted foods have impacted my kitchen. Our culinary choices thus far have been safe. But, my faith in the FDA, who I once relied on as an invisible guardian watching over my plate, has been shattered. My optimistically naïve belief that food, of all things, should be safe, has gone the way of childhood beliefs in Santa and the Easter Bunny. And, I’m not just being dramatic – here’s why:

According to an article in the New York Times, “increasingly, the corporations that supply Americans with processed foods are unable to guarantee the safety of their ingredients…companies do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening the items for microbes and other potential dangers…”

They don’t know where the ingredients are coming from? Seriously??

Commence paranoia.

Not only are many major manufacturers openly admitting that they’re pretty clueless about what’s in their food, instead of owning up to their mistakes, they’re placing the burden for safety on the consumer. We are now responsible for what’s called “the kill step,” and it’s not clear what that entails. Some companies are resorting to detailed diagrams and “food safety” guides outlining how to heat foods in a microwave and then check the temperature in several locations with a food thermometer. Others advise against using a microwave altogether. Frozen convenience foods suddenly seem very inconvenient.

Even if simply educating people to warm food to an adequate temperature was a reasonable solution, which it’s not, it wouldn’t address non-pathogenic contaminants like the arsenic found in a huge variety of processed foods around the globe a few months back.

What’s a mother to do? I’ve been a loud proponent for whole foods, local and organic when possible, for many years now, but I still have some processed foods in my pantry. I mean, who really makes things like crackers and cereal from scratch? I also buy a lot of frozen veggies – and I’ve never checked to see if I’ve warmed them to 165 degrees.

Clearly, we have problem on our hands. What do you think should be done? Do you think food safety is up to the consumer? Do you think it’s up to the government? What if safer food meant it cost a bit more? Are you willing to pay?

Find more from Janelle Sorensen at Healthy Child Healthy World, WebMD, MomsRising, and on Twitter (@greenandhealthy).

Follow me on Twitter!

Related Articles
National Healthy Schools Day
Is Horion Milk really organic?

Link Round-Up: Mommy blogger edition

This week I am picking my favorite posts from some other safety and eco-concious mommy bloggers.

SAFBaby has a great post on Eco-Smart pest control. A great botanical based insecticide system for all your pest control needs. Read more.

Safemama has a great “Dear SafeMama” edition this week on having a green baby shower. How do you avoid (or reduce chances) of getting baby gear and products laced with parabens, BPA, etc.? SafeaMama turns to its readers to get some really great tips for proper etiquette on having a green baby shower. Read more.

The Softlanding has researched and reported back as to which International Playthings are BPA, PVC and phthalate free. Thanks Alicia! And as always, do check www.healthytoys.org to make sure the toys are also free of lead and other ickies. Read more.

Tiffany at Naturemoms.com/blog has a great post and giveaway for Yummy in My Tummy gourmet and organic baby food. My baby is 5 months old, so I am going to have to check this stuff out. I will me making my own (you know in my “spare” time) but I have to bring the unopened, packaged stuff to daycare, so this may fit that bill. Tiffany and her 2 kids gave this product 6 thumbs up! Plus the packaging is free of all kids of icky things, including BPA. Read more.

Related Articles
Kirkland (Costco) baby wipes contain hazardous ingredient
Cloth Baby Wipes Showdown
BPA free bottles, sippy cups, storage and more!
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers

National Healthy Schools Day

header_hsn_nhsdayaltNational Healthy Schools Day
What you can do to make sure no child’s health is left behind
 
by Janelle Sorensenjanelle
 When my husband and I first toured schools to find the one we wanted to enroll our daughter in, I’m sure I was silently voted one of the strangest parents ever. Why do I feel I was secretly endowed with this title? Because every room and hallway we were taken through, I sniffed. A lot. And, according to my husband, I wasn’t terribly discreet. 
 
I didn’t have a cold or postnasal drip. And, I’m not part bloodhound. I was simply concerned about the indoor air quality. My daughter was (and still is) prone to respiratory illnesses and I wanted to be sure the school she would be attending would support and protect her growing lungs (in addition to her brain). For many air quality issues, your nose knows, so I was using the easiest tool I had to gauge how healthy the environment was.
 
While air quality is a significant issue in schools (the EPA estimates that at least half of our nation’s 120,000 schools have problems), parents are also increasingly concerned about other school health issues like nutrition and the use of toxic pesticides. Many schools are making the switch to healthier and more sustainable practices like green cleaning, least toxic pest management, and even school gardening. What they’re finding is that greening their school improves the health and performance of students and personnel, saves money (from using less energy, buying fewer products, and having fewer worker injuries among other things), and also helps protect the planet. It’s truly win, win, win.teacher_students_classroom
 
To highlight the issue, the Healthy Schools Network coordinates National Healthy Schools Day. This year, over three dozen events will be held across the country (and more in Canada) on April 27th to promote and celebrate healthy school environments.
 
What can you do? Healthy Schools Network recommends simple activities such as:
·      Adopting Guiding Principles of School Environmental Quality as a policy for your School;
·      Distributing information related to Green Cleaning or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ);
·      Writing a letter or visiting your Principal or Facility Director to ask about cleaning products or pest control products;
·      Walking around your school: looking for water stains, cracks in outside walls, broken windows or steps, and overflowing dumpsters that are health & safety problems that need attention. Use this checklist.
·      Writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper on the importance of a healthy school to all children and personnel.
 
You can also help support the efforts of states trying to pass policies requiring schools to use safer cleaners. (Or, initiate your own effort!) There are good bills pending in Connecticut, Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. According to Claire Barnett, Executive Director of the Healthy Schools Network, the key pieces to promote on green cleaning in schools are:
·     Not being fooled by ‘green washing’ claims—commercial products must be third-party certified as green (to verify claims);
·     Understanding that green products are cost-neutral and they work; and,
·     Learning that “Clean doesn’t have an odor.”
 
She encourages parents and personnel to tune into one of the archived webinars on green cleaning (like the first module for general audiences) at www.cleaningforhealthyschools.org.
 
The fact of the matter is that whether you’re concerned about the quality of food, cleaning chemicals, recycling, or energy use – schools need our help and support.  Instead of complaining about what’s wrong, it’s time to help do what’s right – for our children, our schools, and our planet.
 
What are you going to do? There are so many ideas and resources. Find your passion and get active on April 27th – National Healthy Schools Day.
 
Additional Resources:

 
·      Creating Healthy Environments for Children (DVD): A short video with easy tips for schools and a variety of handouts to download and print.
·      Getting Your Child’s School to Clean Green: A blog I wrote last year with advice based on my experience working with schools.
·      Healthy Community Toolkit: Healthy Child Healthy World’s tips and tools for being a successful community advocate and some of our favorite organizations working on improving child care and school environments and beyond.
·      The Everything Green Classroom Book: The ultimate guide to teaching and living green and healthy. 
 
Janelle Sorensen is the Senior Writer and Health Consultant for Healthy Child Healthy World (www.healthychild.org). You can also find her on Twitter as @greenandhealthy.

Related Articles
Green Cleaning: Do it Yourself
Safer Sunscreens 2009
Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder: Product review

Green Cleaning: Do it yourself

USA Today had a nice article today about Green Cleaning, highlighting that there is a growing trend with people making their own cleaners at home. Parents, including myself, are going green with their cleaners due to the toxic chemicals typically found in traditional cleaners.

I use plain ole vinegar to clean just about everything and even use it in the rinse cycle when doing laundry. It is a fantastic glass cleaner — something I learned from my dad decades ago. You can use it straight, but even diluting with water works well. Add a little vinegar to water you have a cleaner to mop your floors, wipe the counters, wash walls, etc. And vinegar is cheap!

Baking soda also cleans very well. It’s great at scouring tubs, helps absorb odors and interestingly enough, helps soften clothes in the laundry! Just add a half cup or so to the laundry. Baking soda is also cheap.

For dusting, we use a simple microfiber cloth which is a fantastic cleaning cloth requiring no additional cleaners. For heavier dusting, we use a damp cloth — no cleaners. Most microfiber cloths are roughly a dollar each.

I do not make my own laundry detergent, but many do using Borax. I have not gotten that adventurous. And I like my Charlie’s Soap which does not require any extra softeners or otherwise. See my review here. If you are interested in giving the make your own detergent a try, here is a great article telling you how to do it, for about a penny a load!! Hmmm, maybe I should give this a try…

Some Green Cleaners Are More Effective

And most are just as effective. The article states that doctors say even the simple act of scrubbing is usually enough to kill the germs and cleaners like bleach, are an overkill. They say bleach is needed for messes if blood or other bodily fluids are involved. I stopped buying bleach after my daughter was born 3 years ago. I found it is not needed and I certainly do not miss it.

We had some mold on our bathroom ceiling last year and I mixed a few drops of tea tree oil with a cup of water and sprayed on the mold. It killed the mold and has not been back. Previously, my husband had sprayed water with bleach on it but it always came back. One treatment with tea tree oil  kept it away.

Gotta green cleaning do-it-yourself or frugal tip? Please share your tips below.

Related Articles
Dioxanes found in popular organic body care products
Dangers of BPA, phthalates and a host of other substances
Vinyl shower curtains emit toxic chemicals

Seeking safer packaging to eliminate BPA

According to a new study, not many companies are seeking alternatives to replacing BPA in their packaged foods.

The survey was conducted by sending letters to 20 leading publicly-traded packaged food companies to inquire on the actions they are taking to address concerns over BPA. Fourteen companies responded and the scores were determined based on these responses.

The main findings of the study concluded:

(Excerpt)
• All companies surveyed use BPA and are taking insufficient steps to move toward alternatives.

• Hain Celestial, Heinz, and Nestlé received the top scores because all three companies are involved in researching and testing of alternatives to BPA and all have plans to phase out the chemical in some products.

• Heinz stands out as a leader as it is the only company surveyed that is currently using an alternative to BPA in some of its can linings.

• Three of the companies that responded to our questions, Del Monte, Hershey, and J.M. Smucker, are not taking action beyond monitoring the industry to identify or implement alternatives to BPA as a packaging material. 

Eden Foods is privately held so was not listed in the surevy, however, all their canned foods are BPA-free with the exception of tomatoes which are too acidic for any BPA alternative.

Green Century Capital Management and As You Sow conducted the study and they provide acceptable alternatives to BPA in food packaging. Read the entire article.

 What can you do?

Arm yourself with information.

Avoid companies who are not doing anything on the BPA issue, and write letters to them letting them know you will not buy from them until they offer BPA free products

Support companies who are moving to alternatives to BPA by purchasing their BPA-free products

If you need canned foods, opt for Eden Foods, which are BPA free (except tomatoes)

Ditch canned foods and opt for fresh or frozen

View my lists of BPA-free cups, dishes, bottles and more

Never microwave plastic as it could still leach BPA

Write your congressmen and encourage them to support the call to ban BPA altogether.

Related Articles
Harmful plastics with BPA
The Real Story Behind BPA
BPA Free bottles, sippy cups and food storage

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER!!

Safer Sunscreens 2009

It’s that time of year again — planning for beach trips, the pool, biking, or whatever outdoor activities interest you.

california-baby-spf-30-natural-sunscreen

Last year, the folks at the Environmental Working Group published a report on the effectiveness of sunscreens. They studied 952 common sunscreens and found 4 out of 5 do not do their job.  Additionally, 53% of sunscreen make claims on the bottle that are simply inaccurate and are terms the FDA has said are unacceptable terms or misleading. 

They also found zinc and titanium based formulas to be the most effective.

What to avoid. Avoid ingredients like those with anything “–paraben” in the name, fragrance (likely contains phthalates), PEG compounds, polyethylene, oxybenzone,  triethanolamine, BHT,  benzyl alcohol, and others. This is not a complete list, just some of the ones you may find. Definitely consult the EWG’s Cosmetic Databse for more information on specific ingredients.

Again, read those labels and remember formulas frequently change!

Here is a little summary on the EWG website, plus their recommended top 10 sunscreens that are safe and effective. They also offer a list of “common brand names” and specifically which product in that line is safe and effective. **A little disclaimer though about the cosmetic database.** I have personally found discrepencies in the ingredients they have listed in their database than what is actually listed on the bottle. This is because formulas change frequently and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with each and every product. So definitely still consult the databse as a guide, but as always read the labels before you buy!!

EWG’s recommended Top 10 sunscreens (and their hazard rating. Rating is based on level of hazard, 0 being safest, 10 being highest hazard)
1. Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock, SPF 30   0
2. Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+  0
3. California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+   0
4. Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30       0
5. Marie Veronique Skin Therapy Sun Serum    1
6. Lavera Sunscreen Neutral, SPF 40     1
7. Vanicream Sunscreen, SPF 35      1
8. UV Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+      1
(there is also a Baby version)
9. Sun Science Sport Formula, SPF 30     1
10. Soleo Organics Sunscreen all natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+  1

From 10 Common Brands (and their hazard rating. Rating is based on level of hazard, 0 being safest, 10 being highest hazard). If more than 1 product is listed for that entire brand’s line, I put the range, so be sure to get the ones specified below)
** Please note, these are safer common brands (meaning easier to find), does not mean they are free of harmful ingredients. Other than California Baby, I would personally NOT recommend any of the below or use these for myself or my family.
1. Blue Lizard anything without oxybenzone    (1-7)
2. California Baby anything with SPF 30+     (0-2)
3. CVS with zinc oxide       (2-7) 
4. Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock  (1-7)
5. Kiss My Face “Paraben Free” series     (2-7)
6. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock     (2-7)
7. Olay Defense Daily UV Moisturizer (with zinc)    (2-7)
8. SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense     (2-3)
9. Solar Sense Clear Zinc for Face      (1-2)
10. Walgreens Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose, & Ears   (1-7)

Personally, I am a HUGE fan of TruKids and California Baby. TruKids is a little less expensive. My husband and I both used it last year during our traditional week at the beach and I use California Baby on my then 2 year old. She enjoyed using the TruKids face stick on all 3 of our faces! None of us got burned, and our relatives who used Bull Frog did get burned.

Related Articles

California Baby Sunscreen: Product Review
TruKid Sunny Days Suncreen: Product Review
Add Sun Protection to You Clothes

Lead found in purses

Check you handbag, it may be as heavy as lead for a reason. Several purses and wallets picked up at different stores in California have shown to have high levels of lead. The bright yellow colors, and colors like orange and green that have yellow in there, are the worse offenders, black seemed to be OK.

Lead exposure is especially toxic in children where it can lead to brain damage. We touch our purses all the time, multiple times a day; then we feed ourselves, our children and let our teething babies chomp on our fingers. Not cool. And I doubt many have thought about our purses containing lead.

Recent studies report that lead has health effects at even lower levels than previously thought. One study, published by the National Institutes of Health, reported new findings on neurological damage in unborn children. In adults, lead exposure is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, as well as memory impairment.

To avoid lead choose purses made of canvas and all natural materials such as leather. If you want to know for sure, you can get a lead test kit at most hardware stores or Home Depot.

Read the entire article.

Related Articles

Lead and Phthalate free, non-toxic toys
FDA: vitamins contain lead
Lead and PVC free lunch boxes

Link between Autism and vinyl floors?

Certainly more research is needed, but a Swedish study concluded that an infant/toddler with vinyl flooring in their bedrooms were twice as likely to have autism 5 years later than those with wood or linoleum flooring. For parents who smoked, autism rates were also twice as those who’s parents did not smoke. More research is absolutely needed, but interesting nonetheless. 
Vinyl can emit phthalates, which are chemicals used to make soft plastic that have also been connected to allergies and asthma. The scientists, lead by Carl-Gustav Bornehag of Karlstad University in Sweden, call the data “far from conclusive” and say further studies with a larger group of children are needed to confirm a link.

Related Articles
Should you get the flu shot or just take vitamin D?
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles
 
Have we found the cause of SIDS?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 106 other followers