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- Safe Indoor Air for Children
Safe Indoor Air for Children
For window treatments, avoid blinds made with PVC, which has been associated with health problems. Look for blinds made from cotton, metal, or wood. When selecting children's furniture and toys made from plastic, try to stick with hard plastics, as softer ones are more likely to contain harmful chemicals. "The harder the plastic, the safer it is,” says Ginny Turner, president of Ecobaby Organics and Pure-Rest Organic Bedding Company in San Diego, CA, “If a product smells like plastic, you shouldn't have it around your child.” Upton agrees completely and encourages parents to trust their common sense. “The nose knows,” she says.
Soft Goods, Pillows, and Fabrics
Many of the soft goods that could go into a child's room are laden with chemicals that contribute to poor air quality. Formaldehyde is commonly used to keep fabrics wrinkle-free. Flame retardants are added to blankets, sheets, mattress pads, mattresses, polyurethane foams used in pillows and cushions, and children's clothing and pajamas. Pesticides used to grow cotton remain in the finished items.
To reduce the chance of these chemicals affecting your child, select bedding, curtains, mattresses, and furniture covers made with organically grown cottons and linens. Look for products that use wool, which does not easily burn, as a flame retardant. Choose mattresses containing foam made from natural rubber instead of polyurethane. Stay away from pads made with soft plastics.
Keep in mind that even if a fabric is labeled organic, it can still harbor chemicals added during processing, dyeing, or packaging. Turner recommends you seek out products made according to stringent guidelines. “The consumer needs to know who they're buying from,” she says.
Healthy Cleaning Products and Clean Air
The last thing you want to do is contaminate the air when you're trying to keep baby's room, bedding, and clothing clean. Look for environmentally safe cleaning products and natural alternatives such as vinegar, baking soda, and linseed oil. Avoid pesticides, aerosol sprays, and mothballs.
In addition to carefully choosing what you bring in to your child's room, Upton suggests removing harmful chemicals and particulates from the air mechanically. “I can't stress enough the importance of an air machine,” she says. “I think every parent should have one.”
Finding Healthy Products
Green fabrics, fibers, and furnishings represent a fairly new market in the U.S., but with people looking to learn more about healthy products, a number of sources and websites are popping up with information.
There may not be a universal organic certification or labeling protocol, but consumers can start researching companies and labels on the website of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements for the Organic Directory under The Organic World heading, which lists member organizations by country.
Another great resource is the Green Guide, a site that reviews everything from bedding to TV screens, organic vegetables to untreated fabrics.
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