How Many Baby Formula Plants Are In The United States Are There Hidden Health Hazards In Your Baby’s Nursery?

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Are There Hidden Health Hazards In Your Baby’s Nursery?

Would you expose your newborn to formaldehyde, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and pesticides? Of course not! Even if you’re told it shouldn’t affect your baby’s health, you wouldn’t want to take that chance. Yet one of the first things we do as expectant parents is to prepare the nursery for our child. We paint, buy a crib, mattress, and bedding, and maybe even install a new rug in the room our baby will spend most of his first year in.

Did you know that these products contain formaldehyde, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, pesticide residues and other chemicals that can affect your baby’s health and development?

It is bad enough that we are exposed to these chemicals, but it is even worse for our children. Babies are more susceptible to the effects of toxins than adults for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that babies are much smaller and therefore less tolerant of toxins. Babies also develop very quickly, and any chemicals that interfere with growth and development have a greater effect on them than on an adult. Babies also take in more air than adults relative to their body size, which means they inhale more toxins than adults. Finally, many toxic gases found in the home are heavier than air and settle near the floor where children play.

As parents, there are many steps we can take to make our home a more natural and safe place to raise healthy children. Listed below are the sources of many common household toxins and what you can do to eliminate or reduce your child’s and your risk of exposure.

Flame retardants

Flame retardants are likely to be one of the first toxins your child is exposed to in the home. While it may seem like you never sleep in a newborn home, babies actually sleep a lot – about 60% of their first year of life! That’s a lot of time to spend in close contact with a mattress treated with flame retardants called PBDEs. Several animal studies have found that PBDEs accumulate in the body over time, and exposure during critical periods of growth can cause irreversible damage to the reproductive and nervous systems.(1). PBDEs are chemically similar to PCBs, which were banned in 1976 after they were found to cause cancer and affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems of animals.(2). PBDEs have already been banned in Europe, but unfortunately are still widely used in the US. An organic crib mattress is essential for a healthy nursery. Consider purchasing a mattress made from organic cotton or latex and wool. Wool not only regulates temperature, but is also naturally fire retardant. An organic cotton and wool crib mattress meets the same flammability standards as a chemically treated mattress, but is a much more natural choice and avoids the potential risks of PBDEs.


Most crib bedding is made from cotton, the most pesticide-treated crop in the world. Five of the nine most popular pesticides used in cotton farming have been shown to cause cancer and are ranked among the most dangerous by the Environmental Protection Agency. Even more chemicals are added during the process to turn raw cotton into cloth. Since your baby spends so much time sleeping, it makes sense that his crib bedding is free of pesticide residues and chemical contaminants. When shopping for crib bedding, choose organic cotton that is grown without the use of pesticides. Kids also like to put their toys in their mouths, so consider buying stuffed animals made from organic cotton, especially when babies are teething.

Another source of pesticide exposure is the treatment of our homes and yards. Children exposed to higher levels of pesticides had seven times the risk of childhood non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, study shows(3). As an alternative to common pesticides, consider using cornmeal outdoors to prevent weed seeds from germinating (available at many garden stores and online). A number of good books have been written on the subject of natural gardening, offering natural solutions to all sorts of lawn and garden problems. My personal favorites are Jerry Baker’s books, which have literally thousands of tips and tricks. At home, orange peel pesticides are safe, natural, and highly effective at killing many common pests.


Most paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that give off gases into the air long after the paint has dried. This wet paint smell is actually due to the volatile organic compounds in the paint evaporating into the air. Healthier paint alternatives would be natural paint, VOC paint, or low VOC paint. Natural colors are the healthiest choice. They are made from natural plant compounds and have almost no smell. Zero VOC paints are also a safe choice, very easy to work with, have very little or no odor, and are widely available and affordable. By law, a paint with a VOC content of 5 grams or less per liter can be called a zero-VOC paint. Tinting paint can add a small amount of VOCs, but usually no more than 10 grams per VOC, which is still very low. Choose a pastel or light color for your child’s nursery to minimize the amount of VOCs added to the shade. These colors are also very calming and help your baby relax and fall asleep faster. The VOC content of low VOC paints varies and is usually listed on the label. These paints often have an odor at least until they dry. No matter what paint you use, it’s best for pregnant women to have someone else paint if possible, or at least choose a safe color and ensure adequate ventilation.

Lead is another consideration when discussing paint toxins. If your home was built before 1978, it may have been painted with lead-based paint. Because lead can cause developmental disabilities in children, any chipped paint where it can be ingested poses a health risk. Pregnant women should also be careful to avoid areas where anything that may contain lead-based paint is being sanded or finished.

Household cleaning products and bath products

Most household cleaners are toxic chemicals. Consider using cleaners made with plant-based and plant-based ingredients and essential oils for fragrance. Instead of using a synthetic cleaner on tile or linoleum floors where your baby crawls and plays, use a cleaner that disinfects without using chemicals.

Although there are many bath soaps and shampoos specifically designed for babies, they are often milder versions of adult formula. Read the labels and ask yourself if you want these ingredients (yes…even the ones you can’t pronounce) in your child’s body. The skin acts as a barrier to certain chemicals, but many are absorbed through the skin, a process facilitated by the heat and moisture generated during bathing. Natural soaps, lotions and oils are always the best choice for your baby.


Traditional carpeting and the adhesives sometimes used to install it can be a toxic nightmare. Carpets contain too many VOCs to name them all, with the exception of neurotoxins like toluene and xylene and carcinogens like benzene and formaldehyde, which can off-gas into the air for years. Older carpets contain years of accumulated dust and dirt that can contribute to asthma. Pesticides tracked from shoes indoors also accumulate in carpets over time. In addition to carpets, there are many other floor coverings that are now becoming mainstream. Cork flooring is beautiful, soft and environmentally friendly. Bamboo is another beautiful eco-friendly choice. Just make sure the manufacturer and installer don’t use adhesives that contain formaldehyde. Natural fiber rugs are another option that can be placed over cork, bamboo or tile floors to separate a space or give your baby a soft landing spot while they learn to walk. Some people just love the look and warmth of wall-to-wall carpeting, and for them, low-VOC carpet made from recycled plastic is even more durable and stain-resistant than traditional carpet.

Indoor air pollution

Toxins from the above sources fill the air in our homes. We hear reports of smog and air pollution, but according to the EPA, indoor air pollution can be 3-5 times worse than the air we breathe outdoors. Airborne chemicals build up and cannot escape, especially in newer homes that are built to be airtight and more energy efficient. When the weather permits, we can open the windows to ventilate the house, but when it’s cold or the air conditioner is running, there is little air exchange inside and outside. In families with small children, leaving the windows open can be dangerous. So what can we do? One of the smallest expenses we can make is to bring some plants into our home that can remove chemicals from the air, acting as a purifier. Not all plants are equal in this regard. NASA has tested and ranked twelve plant species to determine which are the best at removing trichlorethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde from the air. Here’s what they found:

  • Gerbera daisy, Dracaena Marginata, Peace lily (Spathiphyllum), Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ and bamboo palm were the five most effective plants in removing trichlorethylene.
  • The best houseplants for removing benzene are Gerbera Daisy, Pot Mum, Peace Lily, Bamboo Palm, Dracaena Warneckei, English Ivy, and Mother-in-Law’s Tongue.
  • Bamboo palm, Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’, mother-in-law’s tongue, Dracaena Marginata, peace lily, green spider plant and golden pothos are top plants for removing formaldehyde.

Remember to give your Gerbera daisy plenty of sun! Based on this study, an 1,800 square foot home would need 15 to 20 plants to clean the air. I love plants and my home is full of them. I think they create a warm and inviting atmosphere, but not everyone wants to feel like they’re in the jungle. In addition, some people have allergies that prevent them from filling their homes with plants. For these people, and as an extra layer of protection, consider using a hood, especially if renovations were done to prepare your child for nursery.

There are several different types of air purifiers available. The best have HEPA or HEGA filtration and will also remove airborne gases. Avoid air purifiers that contain ionizers, as they can release ozone into the air, which is harmful to lung tissue, especially for asthmatics. Cleaners come in a wide range of prices, but also consider how much they cost to run in terms of electricity and replacement filters. Think about how noisy the device is during operation. If you can’t leave it running, the hood isn’t serving its purpose.

Scary statistics

While it’s impossible to pinpoint one specific chemical, cancer and asthma rates have increased over the past few decades, learning disabilities have increased 191% between 1977 and 1994, and autism rates have risen 556% nationally over the past decade.(4) and the premature birth rate has increased by 29% since 1981.(5). One thing we do know is that as a nation, our children are getting sicker.

Children learn values ​​through their parent’s actions. By making healthy decisions for your child now, you are teaching them to make healthy decisions themselves later in life. As parents, we only want the best for our children. Why risk your child’s health by buying products containing harmful chemicals when there are healthy alternatives?

  • 1. Scientific news. October 25, 2003, vol. 164, p. 266
  • 2.
  • 3. Cancer. December 1, 2000, vol. 89 (11) p. 2315-21.
  • 4. US Department of Education, 2002
  • 5.

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