Follow the 5 Easy Steps to a Healthy World
By Margie Kelly, Communications Manager of Healthy Child Healthy World
Today, our jobs as parents have gotten a bit trickier. Not only do we have to worry about keeping our kids safe and in school, but we also have to protect them from the thousands of untested chemicals that have infiltrated the air we breathe and the products we use on a daily basis.
The facts are hard to digest: babies are now born pre-polluted with more than 200 chemicals pulsing through their veins when they are born.
Pretty scary when you think about it.
But, thankfully, it doesn’t have to be. By making simple changes, we can each do our part to create safer, healthier and happier environments where our children can flourish.
That’s the mission behind Healthy Child Healthy World, the national non-profit that’s been inspiring and empowering parents to protect children from harmful chemicals for 20 years.
Our organization started with one unthinkable event: the loss of a child. Colette Chuda died from a rare, non-hereditary form of cancer in 1991. Her parents, Jim and Nancy Chuda, transformed their grief into action when they formed the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition, now Health Child Healthy World, in 1992.
Their goal was to determine what environmental factors could have caused Colette’s cancer, and in so doing prevent other parents from having to endure the nightmare that they experienced.
Twenty years later, the research we’ve supported clearly links chemicals to pediatric illnesses. Healthy Child Healthy World’s Advisory Board is filled with notables in the field, including Dr. Alan Greene, Dr. Harvey Karp, Dr. Leo Trasande and Dr. Phil Landrigan, who is the lead investigator on the National Children’s Study. More importantly, we’ve worked with them to translate the science, in order to create tools that are easy for every parent to understand.
Today, the Healthy Child Healthy World perspective has gone mainstream: The American Academy of Pediatrics recently joined the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association in recommending that chemical-management policy in the United States needs to be revised to better protect children and pregnant women from hazardous chemicals in the marketplace.
We’ve been saying this for 20 years. Healthy Child’s advocacy campaigns have successfully supported laws to regulate pesticides in schools and eliminate BPA from toys and baby bottles. Currently, we’re working to defend the Clean Air Act, and to support legislation like the Safe Chemicals Act. As Healthy Child Board Member and pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene so perfectly put it, “The primary federal law that governs chemicals in the US today is now as out of date and ridiculous as a 1970s polyester leisure suit.”
So, what can you do? Learn our 5 Easy Steps and walk the talk.
1. AVOID PESTICIDES
Pesticides have been linked to asthma, behavior problems, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive dysfunction and even cancer.
PLEDGE TO: Use non-toxic remedies such as soapy water to kill ants and boiling water to kill weeds. Remove shoes to avoid tracking pesticides into the home. Pests can be prevented with good sanitation.
2. USE NON-TOXIC PRODUCTS
Many household chemicals have been linked to health problems. Unfortunately, what’s in them often ends up in your body, since 60 percent of what you put on your skin is absorbed.
PLEDGE TO: Read labels and ask questions about the chemicals in your household cleaners—or even try making your own! Look for body care products made from plant-based ingredients. Find furniture and carpets made from natural materials that have not been treated with toxic flame-retardants. For more tips on a healthier home, you can visit http://healthychild.org/5steps/5_steps_2/ and click on “Safe Solutions.”
3. CLEAN UP INDOOR AIR
People in the US spend about 90 percent of their time indoors; the air inside our homes is typically more polluted than outside. Household chemicals can be a major source of indoor air pollution.
PLEDGE TO: Opt for non-toxic household cleaners, furniture, carpets and paints whenever possible. Grow plants to naturally filter the air inside your home. Open windows for 10 minutes each day—in the early morning, if you live in a heavily-trafficked area. Protect your children from secondhand smoke. Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter; vacuum and wet mop regularly. In special situations, use an air purifier.
4. EAT HEALTHY
Many foods are grown, processed and packaged using toxic materials. Pesticides, bacteria, industrial chemicals and additives can often be found at harmful levels in a family’s food.
PLEDGE TO: Opt for organic and/or locally grown whenever possible. If you’re using canned ingredients, seek out BPA-free cans. Shift to pots and pans that aren’t non-stick coated. Reduce the amount of prepared foods your family eats and increase the number that you make from scratch. Try to go meatless at least once a week; look for organic, free-range meat, milk and eggs. Serve your children water first, juice or milk second. Increase the amount of whole grains and produce that your family consumes. Avoid the Dirty Dozen,[http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary] a list of the most pesticide-laden produce identified by the Environmental Working Group, and thoroughly wash all produce to reduce pesticide exposure.
5. REDUCE PLASTICS
Affordable and convenient plastics are everywhere, but many can release potentially harmful chemicals into the air we breathe, and the food and drink we consume.
PLEDGE TO: Avoid plastic, especially food and beverage containers; never microwave in plastic. Use natural alternatives such as fabric, wood, bamboo, glass or stainless steel to transport food and drinks. If you do buy plastic, opt for products that you can recycle or re-purpose, and choose safer plastics indicated by the numbers 2, 4 or 5 in the chasing arrow symbol on the bottom.
Lastly, sign up for our newsletter and learn how to become just one activist for children’s health [http://healthychild.org/get-involved/newsletter/] or host a Healthy Child Party for your friends [http://healthychild.org/get-involved/healthy_home_parties/].
Then vote with your dollars! Pledge to buy non-toxic products [http://healthychild.org/live-healthy/shop-healthy/] whenever possible. You’d be amazed at which companies sit up and take notice when their market share goes down.
About Healthy Child Healthy World
Celebrating its 20th anniversary year, Healthy Child Healthy World began in 1992 after five-year-old Colette Chuda died of a rare form of non-hereditary cancer linked to environmental factors. Playing a leadership role in one of the most important public health and environmental movements of the 21st century, today Healthy Child Healthy World ignites the movement that empowers parents to protect children from harmful chemicals. More information can be found at www.healthychild.org.
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Which one of the five steps resonates more with you?
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