Guest Article: Identifying Environmental Toxins In Your Home

If you’ve followed this blog at all you know I’ve posted a few articles about the green home my wife and I built and recently moved into. I’ve promised to post more about it, and will in time, but for now I’d like to share a guest piece about how green living in general is beneficial. This article is by recent college graduate and aspiring writer Krista Peterson, whose interests lie in health and environmental issues.

Identifying Environmental Toxins In Your Home
by Krista Peterson

Protecting our children from products that can potentially harm them is becoming more and more difficult in this day and age. With environmental toxins more present at every turn, keeping our eyes open for asbestos, BPA, and lead may secure the long term health of our children.

Mothers know better than most how to take care of their children. Unfortunately, even giving your baby a bottle can be dangerous. Bisphenol A, or BPA, has been used for over 40 years in the production of plastic products.  Its negative effects are most commonly spread to us and to our children by plastic coming into contact with our food and drink.  Plastic bottles, even baby bottles and cups, often contain BPA. New studies are showing that BPA may indeed harm adults and children. To avoid BPA and to prevent infants from ingesting too much of it, mothers are encourage to breastfeed. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding provides myriad health benefits for both the mother and the child. Not only are children who are breastfed less likely to become obese, breast milk provides all the nutrients an infant needs for development, antibodies which protect infants from common illnesses and allergies, and better long-term health. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancers and obesity for mothers. Mothers and fathers should also check for and throw away scratched or damaged baby cups and bottles.

In addition to guarding against BPA, parents should keep a careful eye out for asbestos. Asbestos is found in drywall and other building materials in homes, offices, and schools. Once disturbed, asbestos releases fibers into the air and children and adults that frequently breathe these invisible fibers in are at risk for a serious cancer called mesothelioma.   Symptoms generally don’t show themselves for 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos fibers.  Because of this lapse in time, diagnosis and treatment are often postponed until the cancer has spread. Mesothelioma life expectancy is extremely low, and preventing exposure to asbestos is the best way to keep your children healthy.

Finally, lead poisoning can have devastating effects on the health of your children. Children are more susceptible to lead poisoning because they are more likely to put dust, dirt, paint, and old toys into their mouths. They are also less likely to wash their hands properly after playing in soil that contains lead. Lead poisoning symptoms include irritability, vomiting, loss of appetite, nausea, and behavioral inconsistencies.  Lead can also be found in drinking water and other household products. To protect your family form lead poisoning, have your home tested. If high lead levels are found, see a doctor about a lead blood test.

Environmental toxins like lead, asbestos, and BPA may threaten the long term health of you and your children, but prevention, information, and caution can reduce the risk of environmentally related illness.  If you observe mesothelioma or lead poisoning symptoms, even if they are noticed among neighbors or friends, see a doctor about screening and testing. Spread the news about how to protect our families.

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