I give up.
No, not on the blog, although I know that’s what you’re thinking. (Apologies for the lack of posts.)
I give up on trying to protect my child from toxins by being a smart consumer. Ok, I don’t really give up. But my point is that it’s impossible to do, which leads a lot of parents to stop trying. For every pesticide-free food I find, O crawls across a park lawn drenched in pesticides. For every toxin-free toy I hand him, he face-plants into our chemical-laden rug. Even if I buy every product that says organic, formaldehyde-free, BPA-free, all natural, etc., etc., there are still countless products out there that aren’t even labeled. There’s no way I can win.
Today’s neurotic mother rant is brought to you by a report that came out this week linking BPA exposure in pregnancy to behavior problems in little girls. The study is far from conclusive, but the facts are clear: BPA is nasty, nasty stuff. According to a non-profit called Environment California, “More than 130 studies suggest that BPA exposure at very low doses is linked to a staggering number of health problems, including prostate and breast cancer, obesity, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, brain damage, altered immune system, lowered sperm counts, and early puberty. ” And now there is reasons to believe that we are exposing our children to it before they are even born.
So what that the study’s not conclusive? It makes perfect sense to me that chemicals I ingested during pregnancy could affect my baby’s brain development. But even if there isn’t a link to the prenatal effects, there is a clear link to its impact on children’s health, and buying BPA-free bottles and sippy cups simply isn’t enough. You’ve already got my rant on toys. And all kinds of cans and bottles are lined with BPA. Even Earth’s Best baby food jars, one of the most prevalent organic options, is lined with BPA.
No wonder many parents give up trying. Even if you spend the time and money seeking safe products out, you can’t even be sure the products are really safe. Avoiding it is a serious pain in the you know where.
So why not a ban on BPA period? Or at the very least, require labeling on all products, not just baby bottles. If consumers can’t make informed choices to avoid exposing their children to proven toxic chemicals, shouldn’t the federal government step in?
Who’s stopping them? It seems to me that the only dissenting opinion out there is the American Chemistry Council, a trade association representing the companies that make these toxic products. According to OpensSecrets.org, they spent over $8 million (!!) on lobbying in 2010 and its member businesses spent over $2 million.
Now that I’m way, way outside the beltway, it’s easy to jump to the “evil lobbyist” conclusion. There are lobbyists on all sides of an issue, they all give money, and the truth is that the political system we have simply can’t function without them. But I can’t abide the protection of American businesses outweighing the protection of our kids. American culture has denigrated to a lot of things, but can’t we all agree that keeping kids healthy trumps everything? Strike that – I know we can’t agree to keeping kids healthy (see last year’s healthcare debate). Can’t we agree that NOT POISONING KIDS trumps everything?
What’s a lover of non-poisoned children to do? Here are a few things that will only take a few minutes of your time.
- Senator Feinstein introduced a bill earlier this year to ban BPA in all baby feeding products, which is a good start. She rocks. So shoot your Senator an email asking them to co-sponsor S 136 and ask your Rep to introduce it themselves. (As someone who read a bazillion of these types of letters on Capitol Hill, they don’t need to be long. Just a few heart-felt sentences will do the trick.)
- Boycott kid food products that are using BPA, including Earth’s Best, Campbell Soup, Con Agra (maker of Chef Boyardee) and Annie’s Homegrown. (Thanks to Momsrising.org for starting this campaign.)
- Avoid BPA products where you can. Use the Mayo Clinic’s good tips. I especially like the one about looking for the No. 7 recycling symbol.