September 8, 2008 at 12:27PM
by Deirdre Dolan
This week Id like to ask readers for some help. If youre interested enough in organic pregnancy to read this blog, Im wondering what questions or concerns you might have that arent being answered here. Or, if you dont have specific questions, what topics youre interested in that I havent yet discussed.
Lexy and I have a top ten list we use as a first line of defense for a healthy pregnancy, but Id love to know what worries you after the baby is born as well. Are some subjects too hard to get a straight answer about (flame retardants in pajamas, how safe are cell phones, how to see through greenwashing, wooden toys, paper or plastic), so that you end up just avoiding them?
What does this list leave out? What befuddles you? Is it how to find good foods, how to know what foods are good? Is it how to figure out what lotions or clothes are ok, is it finding out which specific retail locations or brands can be trusted? Is it determining which are the really scary things, and which are hype?
If you have questions can you write them to me as comments here, and if you see questions you can answer please do as well.
Top 10 Steps for Parents Who Want to Go Organic1. FOOD
Start eating as much organic food as possible, paying attention to the most and least toxic items. These are the fruits and veggies that have the highest levels of pesticides: apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, spinach, cherries, and strawberries. These are the fruits and veggies that have the lowest levels and are therefore safe to buy conventional if youre trying to save money or cant find organic versions: asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn (sweet), kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya, pineapple, peas (sweet). Youll also want to avoid high mercury fish, and avoid high fat meats; toxins that have been linked to prenatal nervous system and hormonal damage are stored in fatty tissue2. WATER
Use a PUR or Brita filter for all of your water. Drink out of glass, not plastic whenever possible. If you need to use plastic water bottles, recycle after one use. Most plastic water bottles are made out of a plastic that is only meant for one use. If you use it more than that, and expose it to heat or sunlight, it can begin to deteriorate and leach toxins into your drinking water. Theyre also very hard to clean, and harmful bacteria can easily grow in them.
3. BATHROOM TIP
install a shower filter head, according to books/studies weve read taking a shower is the equivalent of drinking many gallons of unfiltered water. Also: get rid of PVC shower curtains, it isnt a plastic you want around your growing baby, nor is it something you want to throw out and have go into the groundwater. Vinyl contains phthalates, the same thing that is toxic in nail polishes and fragrances.4. AIR
Open your windows for at least 10 minutes a day houses today are made to seal hot or cold air in. This also keeps many environmental pollutants in. Air needs to circulate to be safest, ventilate whenever possible.5. KITCHEN:
cast iron is now the way to go. Stop using non-stick or teflon pans which are known to cause cancer. Other tried and true safe kitchen vessels are made of glass and stainless steel.6. BEAUTY PRODUCTS
Do a quick run through of the beauty products youre using no more Clearasil, no more alpha hydroxies, remove toe nail polish or buy polish with the least amount of chemicals. There is no FDA regulation of organic beauty products, so you never really know if an organic product is truly organic, but there are certain products known to be more pure than others (like Weleda or Dr. Hauschka). Many of them are sold on the website saffronrouge.com
for lead and radon. Tests can easily be purchased at hardware stores. New York City (for example) will test water for free. Covering cracked lead paint with fresh paint (eco friendly versions like Benjamin Moores Ecospeck are now available) is now considered safer (and cheaper) than having it removed.8. CLEANING PRODUCTS
Have your partner use up the cleaning products you do have (throwing them out just pollutes) but as you finish them, replace with earth friendlier items that dont have harsh things in them (bleach, ammonia and worse) you will be breathing. Or ask your partner to clean and/or hire someone else to clean while youre pregnant. Remember that if your housekeeper is using Fantastic etc. when youre not around, there is still residual dust from those products when you are around. If you garden, use the same approach to fertilizers. If you have an insect infestation, use safer insectisides like sticky traps and boric acid.9. FOAM
Get rid of those crumbling foam cushions, already!
The latest chemicals found to be approaching possibly unsafe levels in American women's breast milk, as well as umbilical-cord blood, are fire retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. Furniture foam tends to release PBDEs into house dust when it breaks down. For solutions, see Mattresses and Box Springs and Computers product reports and Green Guide #97 "PBDE Fire Retardant and Health Risks."10. DON'T RENOVATE
Who knows what kinds of volatile organic chemicals will be unearthed when you start ripping up the carpet and tearing down walls. Resist the urge to build a nursery from scratch, and if you must do any painting use no-VOC paint only and get out of the house.