Category Archives: Toxins

How about we dip THEIR heads in formaldehyde?

That’s it, I’ve been pushed to the edge.  It’s time to get extreme.

A bunch of people have sent me the news links about Johnson & Johnson KNOWINGLY selling baby shampoo with carcinogens in it.  In case you’re like, “ooooh, everything on this planet is a carcinogen, get over it A-Dubs,” let me elaborate:

The shampoo you put on your baby’s head, that gets in their eyes and mouth, has FORMALDEHYDE in it.  Formaldehyde, people.  We’ve known since 1980 that prolonged exposure (oh, I don’t know, like bathing your child in it every day) is linked to cancer, particularly leukemia.

And Johnson & Johnson is still selling it here in the U.S., even though they’ve changed the formula for countries like Denmark and the U.K., which have governments that clearly care more about kids than ours.

As of yesterday, J&J agreed to stop producing new formaldehyde-filled baby shampoo for the U.S., but it’s still on shelves.  And it took them two years to agree to this!

Remember when China executed milk producers who knowingly sold milk that killed six babies and made hundreds of thousands sick?  Perhaps it’s time our Justice Department start considering this tactic.

I’m serious, people.  It’s time to get all eye-for-an-eye biblical up in here.  Death sentence is too much, you say?  How about we dip their heads in formaldehyde every day?  Seems like a fair deterrent to me.

Oh, please, please let me read today that the government is recalling Johnson & Johnson shampoo.

Until then, please throw yours out.  And until I can convince the Justice Department to set up formaldehyde dunking tanks in town squares, please switch to all-natural baby products.  I know they are pricey, but what choice do we have?


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BPA? Big Pain in the A#$. And it’s poisoning our kids.

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, 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.


Your law is toxic like the toy in my child’s mouth

I used to go to other people’s houses and wonder how they accumulated so many toys for their kids.  Then I had a baby and in nine short months ended up with this:

I like to think I’m an informed, fairly cautious mom who doesn’t stray too far into being a hippy-dippy, uber-obsessed, stay-up-into-the-night-worrying-about-the-air-he-breathes kind of mom.  But like all babies, O puts everything in his mouth (see him below testing the tastiness of the dog’s ear), so I’ve wondered a lot about how 99% of his toys are made in China and whether it really matters that I spend all this money on organic/BPA-free/natural fiber/etc. stuff when I clearly don’t know anything about the pieces of plastic he sucks on non-stop.

Believe me, I’ve tried to find specifically non-toxic toys and they are mainly a) lame and/or b) ridiculously expensive.  But, honestly, don’t we have enough to obsess about with our kids?  That’s why I assume the government takes care of this kind of obsessing.  We’ve all heard about recalls on Chinese toys made with lead.  Our government must have this covered, right?

You might remember Congress passing a law a few years back banning lead and other nasty chemicals a in toys (it only took a mere 30 years after lead was banned in paint).  Ok, that’s nice of you, Congress – one less thing to keep us neurotic parents up at night.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the law actually went fully into effect.  Apparently it was held up by “complex technical issues,” like whether lead is ok in some toys after all, especially toys for “older” children (i.e. 12-year-olds) who are definitely smart enough not to lick toys or whether lead is ok in books, which no child has ever chewed on (except for my son, who eats books like it’s his job).  See this article by Fox News – even with their spin, it’s enough to make this mom’s head spin.

So what does Congress do when they want to change a law that would upset most parents?  Two of their favorite tricks!  First, bring up the new legislation for a vote in August when no one is paying attention (because they are too busy ripping things out of their children’s mouths).  Second, wait to pass it right around the same time as something much splashier, like say, raising the debt ceiling.

And it worked like a charm…kind of like the lead-based charm hanging around your child’s neck.

Hardly anyone paid attention to the bill.  I mean, can we really be bothered by kids sucking on poison when the debt ceiling wasn’t going to be raised, banks were going to spontaneously combust and the whole country was going to get sucked into the ocean like that island did in Lost?  I don’t think so.

Here’s a good analysis of the new law.  (I’d link to a news article on it, but the media didn’t bother to cover it.)  Now toy makers can happily go back to making lead-filled toys if doing otherwise would be “not practical” or the toy isn’t “likely” to be put in a child’s mouth.  And rather than random testing of toys, they get to provide representative samples.  Oh, and you can still put lead in children’s books (collective sigh of insanity).

So I’m whining about this to Tedd the other morning and he says, check out this story in the Tribune about phthalates in toys harming kids and I say, “PHTHALATES??? THEY CHANGED THAT PART OF THE LAW, TOO!!!”  (All people with babies have three cups of coffee before 7 AM, right?)  I don’t know exactly what a phthalate is, but I now know they can keep on putting them in toys as long as they’re not accessible through “normal and reasonably foreseeable use.”  ARGGG!!!  How about we just don’t put poisonous things in toys, HUH!?!?!

So before I get hysterical and rip a toy out of my son’s chubby little fingers, let’s imagine what the nice toy manufacturer lobbyists would say to us.  They’d say, “blah-de-blah-de-blah, changing the way we make toys would KILL American jobs…jobs trump babies…we win.”  Hence nearly every member of the House voting for the new law, Ds and Rs.  See, on Capitol Hill, jobs always win (even with toys made in China).  That’s why politicians just walk around all day saying, “jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs” until it drills into our brains, kind of like all the annoying songs playing on O’s toxic toys.

Yes, jobs do win because without them the cute little babies don’t get diapers, food and comfy beds, let alone toxic toys.  And, yes, I’m VERY lucky to be complaining about toys instead of needing a job.  But to quote Ashley G., “in a capitalist society, your dollar’s your vote.”  I’ll vote for the people whose job it is to make non-poisonous toys.  I am going to try really, really hard to not to buy more crap for O if I don’t know what it’s made of, partly because having a baby IS making me a hippy, but mainly to stick it to the evil toy companies who make me have to become a hippy.  And to prove this, I actually walked past the toy aisle in Target yesterday without buying something, which my husband will attest is a first.  Take that.

I’m betting this strategy works until my son is old enough to distinguish the difference between a toy and say, the dog’s tail.  But until then, I am resolved.  So comment and tell me what the cool non-toxic toys are.