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Rub-A-Dub-Dangers: Practicing Product Safety

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

To this day I love the smell of baby shampoo and baby powder. In fact, like my grandmother, which is probably where I learned it from I sprinkle some baby powder with my adult moisturizer and generously “lather up” after a refreshing shower.

Still, while they smell great, many baby products may in fact be “dangerous” especially for children and babies, with some containing chemicals that cause skin irritations to hormone disruption and possibly even cancer. Couple that with the fact that children’s skin is often also significantly thinner and more susceptible to toxins, you have a dangerous and potentially deadly combination. The answer is look for “safe” products made naturally (or at least more naturally), just make sure you know what you’re looking for.

· Read between the labels: Even products labeled as “gentle”, may actually may not be. You see the FDA does not mandate safety testing of personal-hygiene products or their ingredients, so the manufacturer is free to put almost anything on the label without any penalty or scrutiny. In fact, studies show that children are exposed to 60 chemicals each day just in personal care products alone, and that 80 percent of products suggesting they are “gentle”, “soothing”, or “hypoallergeinic”, often actually contain ingredients that are associated with allergies and skin irritations.

· Opt for organic: According to recent research mainstream kids products are packed with toxic chemicals and ingredients, including 1,4 dioxane, a cancer-causing petrochemical. And, it’s a product that isn’t listed in the ingredients, so consumers are left in the dark. Instead, its best to seek out products with the USDA Organic seal sans any compound with the “eth” suffix (such as sodium laureth sulfate, clueing you into the product containing 1,4 dioxane).

· Go Fragrance-Free: Many toxic chemicals are listed “discretely” in the form of frangrance including a group known as phthalates, which are chemicals often linked to reproductive problems. And, these phthalates are frequently found in lotions, shampoos and powders, and, in fact, in a host of other products that may not list them in the ingredients.

· Do your homework: It’s easy to miss something in the fine print. Instead check out the product safety of your favourite product via the EWG’s Skin Deep database, a site that rates the safety of about 25,000 products. In fact, it even offers a Children’s Product Guide that highlights the most common ingredient dangers such as hormone-disturbing parabens and DMDM hydantoin, which can be broken down into formaldehyde, a cancer-causing agent.

· Less is more: Don’t fall into the “trap” of believing that the more products you use, the better. In fact, the opposite is often true. Consider cutting back on how many chemicals you expose your child or children and family to.

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