Saturday, March 3, 2012

Over the Top - Increased Chemical Exposure is Making Our Children Dumber


Over the top. That’s what most people think I am. Most of my family. ALL of my friends.

Yes. I am a little more than paranoid about chemical exposure when it comes to Terra. We buy furniture that doesn’t emit VOCs, we bought a car because the interior was low-VOC. I only buy organic clothes and organic cloth diapers for her. We almost exclusively buy wooden toys that really are painted with non-toxic paints. I stopped painting my nails and coloring my hair when I found out I was pregnant. I stopped wearing perfume and threw out all my candles. I threw away everything in my cleaning and medicine cabinets. I threw out all my non-stick cookware. I have a ton of house plants because they help clean the air. We chose a house that doesn’t have carpet because of the chemicals used in the glue. Hell, I became vegan because I knew that it would be better for my someday child. The list really goes on and on. And most of these things, I honestly never thought about until I got pregnant. Suddenly, I was responsible for protecting this little body that was growing inside of me, and I decided to take my job very seriously.

Then there are things that are a little harder to control. I have old mercury fillings. Seriously. Who decided that putting mercury in our mouth was a good idea? Sometimes I get close to having a panic attack when I think about how much mercury Terra has in her body because of the pregnancy and because of breast-feeding. Now, I assume that breastfeeding is still better than formula even with my mercury fillings, because the breast is the normal healthy thing to do, but I still have minor panic attacks when I think about it. And I probably should.

Most people should take notice of the chemical exposure for their little ones. Pregnant women and children are much more vulnerable to chemical exposure than healthy adults. Recently, an article was published on Environmental Health News that estimates that lead alone could be related to a 23 million point IQ loss in the U.S. population of children. Organophosphate pesticides could explain a 17 million IQ point loss, and methylmercury a 300,000 IQ point loss.

What does it mean, and what can you do?

You can reduce your child’s exposure to organophosphates by buying organic produce.

More information on organophosphates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a study from the National Institute of Health about prenatal exposure of organophosphates and the cognitive ability of children.

Most lead exposure comes from paint, and if your house was built before 1978, it likely has lead paint. The risk of exposure is very minor, however if your paint is not chipping or flaking. Lead can also be found in the soil outside of your house, though. It is best to always wash hands and toys after playing in the dirt. 

Lead soldering for pipes was used until 1986, so while your exposure to lead from source water is actually very low, you can have quite a bit of exposure through your pipes if your house was built before 1986. You can reduce your exposure to lead from your drinking water by running your water until it is completely cold, especially if the faucet has not been used in six hours. You should also never drink or cook with hot water as the lead content will be higher.

More information about lead and lead in your drinking water from the EPA.

Methylmercury exposure primarily comes from eating fish. The chemical bioaccumulates in aquatic life, and therefore, fish that eat other fish will have higher levels of the chemical.
For more information on methylmercury from the U.S. Geological Survey and from the EPA.

The good news is that the human body is incredibly resilient, especially when we feed it right, so make sure your kiddos are getting their fruits and veggies!




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