Challenge #44 ~ Healthy Kids' Rooms

Read the blog post on the December Theme – HEALTHY HOMES

Photo by Shitota Yuri on Unsplash

We, the adults, often say “Our children are our most valuable asset, our future. We need to educate our children to become global citizens and to solve all the urgent global problems.” That’s correct, and we, the adults, too, need to educate ourselves and learn how best to ensure our children’s safe future. Are we doing the best we can? 

Did you know that “287 chemicals are found in unborn babies and that 82,000 chemicals are allowed on the market without safety testing?” We, the adults, continue to poison and threaten our children’s very future. 

What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a book many pregnant women and fathers-to-be read in anticipation of the unknown, in preparation for the uncertainties to come. The book is a classic, a practical guide that prepares parents-to-be for the new roles awaiting them. 

Becoming a parent is one of the most exciting miracles in life, and we take this role very seriously. We spend many hours meticulously planning the arrival of an unborn child, buying cute baby clothes and blankets, cribs and mattresses, and decorating nurseries, and later, kids’ rooms. 

The monthly blog on Healthy Homes is all about climate action at home and introduces the opportunities and responsibilities we as parents have to create healthy and toxin free home environments our children need and deserve, safe from nasty chemicals. This week’s challenge is a call to action because “The Human Rights of Children Depend on Urgent Climate Action”. 

With some basic understanding we can create safe kids’ rooms, clean of hidden chemical additives and toxins. A few easy steps will ensure to avoid exposure to hidden toxins by identifying sources, and then reducing and eliminating the culprits. 

Babies and children sleep a lot to form those millions of new neural connections during early development. Therefore, ensuring a safe environment in nurseries and kids’ rooms is essential for their health and cognitive development. As we recall from the monthly blog on Healthy Homes and the previous healthy homes challenges, the air we breathe and the materials our body and skin comes in contact with matters, a lot.

No parent intentionally poisons their kids. But who really checks or inquires whether mattresses, sheets, bed linen, blankets, and pajamas are treated with formaldehyde and fire retardants; whether other toxic chemicals are added that come in direct contact with a child’s skin or off-gasses into the air the child breathes? What’s an ordinary consumer to do? ASK QUESTIONS! A LOT OF QUESTIONS!

The United States’ National Institutes of Health identified these six chemical classes as top concern: phthalates, phenols, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), flame retardants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and organochlorine pesticides (OCs). If you have been following the healthy home weekly challenges, these chemicals may sound familiar by now as these are chemicals widely used in industrial and consumer products. It’s a recurring theme of toxic soup in our kitchens, bathrooms, and living spaces. These toxins are particularly dangerous to pregnant women because the toxins are passed on to a fetus through the placenta during pregnancy or to the newborn during breastfeeding. 

What else do we need to check to make kids’ rooms safe? Toys, school supplies, and electronics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common sources for lead poisoning in children comes from lead in paint and toys manufactured of plastic or metal. “Lead softens the plastic and makes it more flexible so that it can go back to its original shape. It may also be used in plastic toys to stabilize molecules from heat. Lead dust can be formed when plastic is exposed to sunlight, air, and detergents that break down the chemical bond between the lead and plastics.”

Get started with these tips:

  • Choose mattresses made of natural latex or low volatile Organic Compound (VOC) certified foam/stuffing and no less than 95% certified organic content. Avoid mattresses with polyurethane foam, chemical flame retardants, added fragrances or antimicrobials, Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or vinyl mattress covers
  • Avoid the most toxic chemicals in furniture, including flame retardant chemicals, stain-guard or water-repellent finishes. 
  • Choose lead-free toys, jewelry, or other items that may contain lead. Small children tend to put toys into their mouths, chipping away on the paint and swallowing the potentially lead containing paint. 
  • Buy school supplies free of toxic chemicals and low VOCs like markers and pens, crayons, water bottles. 
  • Keep kids’ rooms free of TVs, computers, smart phones. 
  • Limit extended exposure to blue lights from TV, computers, and smartphones especially before bedtime.
  • Call the Qatar Poison Center at +974 4003 1111 if a child/adult was exposed to a toxin or poison. Call IMMEDIATELY to talk to a doctor and receive instant professional medical advice for care instructions and stay home!
National Institutes of Health

By learning how to eliminate hidden pollutants and toxins in our living spaces, we take climate action and also reduce our carbon footprint through personal choices, addressing SDGs #3 Good Health and Wellbeing; #6 Clean Water and Sanitation; #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth; #9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; #12 Responsible Consumption and Production and #13 Climate Action

Yes, you, too, can make a difference in the world, one person at a time.