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Do Your Part: Pick alternatives to chemicals

Children are particularly susceptible to dangerous chemicals because of their lower body weight. It takes a much smaller amount to harm their developing bodies. Create a healthier home and a healthier child by reducing your family’s exposure to questionable chemicals. Here are five alternatives to the dangerous chemicals your child probably comes into contact with every day.

Triclosan: It’s found in many antibacterial hand soaps, gels, and body washes. Triclosan is believed to interfere with thyroid function. It also has been linked to the creation of “superbugs,” which are resistant to antibiotics.

Alternative? Soap and water. Even the FDA says it “does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.”

Flame retardants: Chemicals found in flame retardants are linked to serious health issues such as delayed brain development, reproductive problems and cancer.

Alternative? Organic cotton or natural latex. Instead of clothing made with flame retardants, opt for snug-fitting organic cotton clothing and a working smoke detector. Also, choose a crib or child’s mattress made from organic cotton or natural latex.

Pesticides: The EPA warns that most pesticides are especially dangerous to children because they block absorption of nutrients and can even cause permanent biological changes. Recent studies have also linked pesticide exposure to childhood leukemia and birth defects.

Alternative? Vinegar, borax, or food grade diatomaceous earth. Use natural products like these to get rid of pests. Spraying vinegar around doors, windows, and countertops will keep ants away. Borax and sugar will kill roaches. And diatomaceous earth will kill all insects, which means you must use it selectively. Borax and diatomaceous earth are natural but can be hazardous if ingested.

Air fresheners: Why mask bad smells with air-polluting chemicals? Most air fresheners can actually leave dangerous levels of hormone-disrupting phthalates or formaldehyde behind.

Alternative? Fresh air, baking soda and soy candles. Getting fresh air into your home can alleviate odors. For tough and stubborn smells like in your garbage can, baking soda can work wonders. To bring sweeter scents into your home, use soy candles.

Chemical cleaners: Most of us don’t know we’re polluting while cleaning because the makers of popular household cleaners aren’t required to list all their ingredients on the label. These hidden ingredients can cause everything from asthma to reproductive problems.

Alternative? Natural cleaners. You can use vinegar and baking soda to clean and disinfect just about every surface in your home. Cleaning recipes can be found at If you’d rather buy an eco-friendly cleaner, look for those that are plant-based.