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Tuesday, March 2, 2010 10:50 am

Stop, drop and roll

Hello! I'm back. I've been spending a lot of time at the Capitol lately, and thus haven't been able to blog.

Anyway, I hope some of you have heard this NPR piece about Slow Death by Rubber Duck. If you haven't, here's a quick recap: two Canadian environmentalists spent two years monitoring the amount of chemicals in their bodies after regular use of household products like shampoo, plastic food containers and bathroom cleaners. Their book, Slow Death by Rubber Duck, shows that dangerous toxins like Bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in baby bottles and canned food, are ever-present in high levels in our bodies.

According to Environment Illinois, BPA has been linked to infertility, obesity, diabetes and breast and prostate cancers. 

But Smith and Lourie didn't need to take baths in mercury or eat tuna for a whole year to see the chemical levels in their bodies skyrocket. After just two days of eating only canned food microwaved in plastic containers and drinking from one of his son's old baby bottles, Smith saw a major rise in the levels of BPA in his body.

Coincidentally, a bill has been introduced in the House that would reduce the amount of BPA children are exposed to. HB 6088, the BPA-Free Kids Act, would require any BPA-containing products to come with a warning label. The bill is currently scheduled for a second reading in the House.

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One controversial issue with children and BPA is flame-retardant pajamas and bedding. A lot of parents still insist on buying pj's made from fire-resistant fabric, which is soaked in chemicals. This blog, which provides some chemical-free alternatives, has suggestions about using wool bedding (a natural flame retardant) and cotton clothing as pajamas.

Obviously, I'm not a parent, so I don't understand the constant worries that go along with the toughest job there is. (So before I get angry comments, I just want to say that yeah, I haven't been in that situation.) However, I have a hard time believing that you can't live without toxin-laden Hannah Montana sheets. Is fire resistance really the biggest thing you have to worry about? Before choking hazards or asthma attacks or someone getting a concussion falling out of bed? I mean, this may sound harsh, but I have a feeling that fire is probably the least of your concerns. And if there is a fire, I don't think your Elmo pj's are going to save you. (Sorry.)

Anyway, I'm hoping to take some steps to clean without so many hazardous chemicals. Right now, I mostly use Comet and dish soap (super effective for getting film off your tub - unless you're like me and get too excited about creating Jackson Pollock patterns in your bathtub and you end up accidentally having a foam party in your bathroom while trying to clean), but I'd like to start using vinegar again. Check out 1001 ways to clean with vinegar for tips. We do it at my parents' house, and it's super effective, minus the smell (which is really no worse than any other cleaning agent.)

I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. I had friends stay last weekend, and I definitely need to clean my bathroom again. I'm going to pick up some vinegar and go to town!

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