Father's Day is right around the corner (it's June 15th, for those of you who need a friendly reminder!), so Toxic Free NC is dedicating this Action Alert to fathers and fathers-to-be who make our homes and our world safer for our children.
Messages about protecting children from toxics often focus on mothers. But fathers play a very important role in protecting children from toxic chemicals. A father's own toxic exposures can have serious effects on his children's health - particularly "take-home" exposures that cling to skin and clothes. Meanwhile, boys tend to suffer more than girls from many children's health problems thought to have environmental causes, including some childhood cancers, asthma, learning and behavioral disorders, and some types of birth defects.
We bring you some helpful tips for Dads and everyone on reducing your whole family's exposure to toxic chemicals, as well as some ideas for fun & sustainable gifts to show your Dad you love him on Father's Day.
Thank you, Dads, and Happy Father's Day!
Fathers play a very important role in protecting children
from toxic chemicals.
Take Action for Father's Day:
>>Support our work. Donate today!
Reducing your family's
exposure to pesticides and other toxics:
Tips for Dads and Everyone
Because they are smaller and growing
quickly, young children are much more vulnerable to health
damage from exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals
than adults are. That's why it's so important for parents
and parents-to-be to avoid exposure to toxics, and to take
precautions to protect their children from exposure. Here
are some helpful tips to protect yourself and your family.
(These tips based on information from A Father's Day Report and Playing it Safe, publications from the Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment.)
When Working with Chemicals, such as pesticides, paints, solvents, adhesives, anaesthetics, etc:
- Protect yourself. Wear protective clothing and equipment (i.e. masks, gloves, etc.).
- Hand washing. Be extra careful to keep your hands away from your face and eyes, and to wash your hands before you eat, drink or smoke.
- Shower to remove chemicals. Change your clothes and take a shower when you finish working with any chemicals, before preparing food or spending time with your family.
- Laundry. Wash the
clothes you wear while working with chemicals separately
from other laundry to prevent the chemicals from re-depositing
on other clothing.
- Pesticide-free. Use safer alternatives to pesticides for everyday home pest issues like weeds, ants, roaches, and mold. You can make many effective and affordable pest solutions with non-toxic ingredients like soap, vinegar, borax, and baking soda. Toxic Free NC has lots of advice on our website, or you can contact us with your questions.
- Pest proofing. Be sure to seal up holes and cracks around windows and doors, baseboards, plumbing and wiring. Install screens, door sweeps, and weatherstripping to keep insects out, and ensure there is good drainage around your house to avoid insect and mold problems.
- Safer cleaners. Use safer alternatives to harsh cleaners and air fresheners that release VOCs ("volatile organic compounds") into your home. Try natural and affordable products that clean and deodorize, like baking soda and white vinegar, or eco-friendly products made with natural scents.
- Good ventilation. Toxic chemicals from a variety of sources can build up in the air and dust in your home. So, in addition to regular cleaning, be sure to replace furnace air filters regularly, install and repair screens on windows and doors so you can leave them open in good weather, and use ceiling fans to keep fresh air circulating.
- Hobbies. If
you use products containing toxic chemcials for hobbies,
such as paint, varnish or glue, keep your hobby work
out of the main living areas of your house. Always clean
up after yourself thoroughly, and follow the same suggestions
as above for protective clothing, handwashing, showering
and laundry to avoid exposing the rest of your family
to those chemicals.
Toxic-Free Food & Water:
- Buy local & organic. Buy locally-grown and organic foods whenever possible, and especially for pregnant women and young children. Here are some tips for finding locally-grown organic foods, and an article about buying organic on a budget. Always rinse fresh produce well before preparing.
- Farm-to-School. Ask about getting locally-grown and organic foods served at your child's daycare center or school. We can help.
- Water filters. Consider filtering your family's drinking water with a portable filter (like a Brita filter), or a filtration system installed under your sink.
- Plastic containers. Be sure that baby bottles and other food and drink containers in your house don't contain bisphenol A. Here's a guide to plastics from the Washington Toxics Coalition that will help you determine which products contain bisphenol A. Don't put hot food in plastic containers, or use plastic containers in the mircrowave. Use glass or ceramic instead.
Remodeling & Redecorating: Be aware that many paints, glues, varnishes, and also new carpets and furniture contain toxic chemicals that off-gas into your home. Older homes may also contain lead paint or asbestos which can be disturbed by renovation.
- Planning. If possible, don't plan major remodeling or redecorating projects during a time when someone in your house is pregnant, or when you have a small baby. Do not involve pregnant women or children in remodeling projects.
- Air intakes. When remodeling or redecorating, be sure to seal off air intakes and heating vents so that construction dust and chemical residues won't continue to recirculate in your home after your project is over.
- Safer products. Where possible, choose low- or no-VOC paints and other least-toxic products to renovate or redecorate your home.
- Lead & Asbestos. Never sand a surface that might contain lead-based paint or asbestos. If you are concerned there may be lead-based paint or asbestos in your home, visit the HUD site on lead paint or the EPA site on asbestos.
Make your Community Safer:
Childcare. Ask questions
about pesticides and and other chemicals being used in
places your child spends time. You can
play an important role in reducing the use of pesticides
and other toxic chemicals in your child's school or daycare,
in parks and playgrounds, at your church and elsewhere -
find out more about our Toxic-Free
Kids program, read up on What
Parents Should Know about the School Children's Health
Act, and contact
us to get help!
Father's Day Gift Ideas from Toxic Free NC
This Father's Day, give your Dad the gift of justice and sustainability for North Carolina: give a gift in his honor to Toxic Free NC! We'll send him a handmade card acknowledging your gift.
Here are some other great gift ideas from Toxic Free NC:
Photo: A beautiful breakfast plate from The Inn at Celebrity Dairy, in Chatham County, NC.
Photos: Top: Bug Bites chocolates have insect trading cards in them. Your Dad might not appreciate that as much as Toxic Free NC does, but they're also certified organic and fairly-traded. Yum. Photo courtesy of Endangered Species Chocolate. Bottom Left: US Fair Trade Certification mark. Bottom Right: USDA Organic Certification mark.
Image: The cover of Noah's Garden, just one of the great titles from Toxic Free NC's recommended list of books and films on environmental health and sustainability.
Organic Beer & Wine