Monday, December 10, 2007

Green mum

In my world, the only granola around is the kind I mix into yogurt. I am not the earth-mother type. I leave that to some of my friends who are much more enviornmentally aware, and socially conscious. I learn from their time at the Food Co-Op and I try to "co-op" some of their green ideas, but basically, this urbanite does not have a whole lotta crunch.

But if motherhood has taught me anything, it has been to be more caring, overall, of the world within and outside of your home. So I am sharing my two most recent findings that have given me pause and lead me to make smarter choices for the health of my children and the world around them.

1. MDF: Medium Density Fiberboard. Basically, it is faux wood. Particleboard. Looks like wood. But it's not. Many styles of children's furniture is made of MDF (including almost EVERYTHING at Pottery Barn Kids!). MDF emits formaldyhyde gases which slowly enter the air and cause health problems, especially for children. There is much written online about this:

In all fiberboards, formaldehyde resins are used to bond together the constituent parts. This is usually urea formaldehyde, but some fibreboard including exterior or marine quality board will use stronger glues such as phenol formaldehyde.

Even at a low level, exposure to formaldehyde though inhalation can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat and mucous membrane. Formaldehyde can also affect the skin, leading to dermatitis, and the respiratory system causing asthma and rhinitis. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation, quoted evidence that even short term exposure to formaldehyde, at far below the legal limit allowable in Britain, could cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.

The IARC's findings also stated that wood dust is a carcinogen' (cancer causing) and that 'formaldehyde is probably carcinogenic to humans'. IARC was also concerned about the reproductive hazards of formaldehyde'. "
To add insult to injury, real wood is hard to find! Especially when it comes to children's furniture. I am trying to replace all of my MDF furniture, which is thankfully only my kids table and chairs and changing table. The best way to find real wood is by googling "Amish furniture". Who knew the Amish were so busy creating all of this non toxic furniture? I am thrilled to have found this. I will buy something untreated to avoid the whole lead paint issue, which means it will likely be ugly but at least it will be safe.

By the way, if you find a furniture company that you like, don't just ask "Is this real wood?" because they will say yes, even if it includes particleboard and MDF. This happened to me at Pottery Barn Kids and finally someone printed out descriptions which are not available to the public which listed MDF as the "wood". You need to be specific.

2. Bisphonal-A: Bisphenol A is a chemical found in almost all baby bottles. When heated, bottles can leach this chemical into the liquids inside. Bisphenol A has been linked to cancer, diabetes, immune dysfunction, hyperactivity and an alarming range of other disorders.

With Chloe, I used Dr. Brown's bottles which contained Bisphenol-A. This time around, I found Green to Grow bottles (, which are Bispehenol A-free and overall have a great mission and products (also phthalate free).

Aint it nice that I can package my neuroses in an eco-friendly brown bag?


At 9:13 PM PST, Blogger wutsua said...

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At 11:07 PM PST, Blogger Janya said...

Good info! Hey, I say, whatever you can do! I drive a big ole SUV with one helluva carbon footprint, but at least all my canvas reusabale grocery bags are inside it :)

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