10 easy tips to detox your home and your children

Photo: istockphoto.com/Chad Anderson

Our children are more vulnerable to chemicals that adults. By the time the average North American child enters kindergarten, they've already been exposed to a veritable cocktail of chemicals. How do we protect our children from common toxic chemicals? We can start by greening our homes.

  • Avoid carpets. Aside from the chemicals contained in the carpets themselves (including BPDE and formaldehyde), carpets trap other airborne toxic particles. Opt for hardwood floors, area rugs made of natural materials, and vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter.
  • Avoid furniture made out of particleboard, pressed wood, plywood and laminated wood. Instead, opt for furniture made of solid wood or other materials such as stainless steel. If you can't avoid or replace your composite wood furniture, seal them with a water-based, low-toxicity sealant to reduce off-gasing.
  • Opt for low-VOC paints for walls. Read more about paints in our article Paint your rooms enviro-friendly and safe. Never use stains, sealants, or paints in the presence of children or pregnant women, and always keep the area well ventilated.
  • Stay away from conventional personal care products that have any trace of phthalates. Buy 100 percent organic lotions, shampoos and creams for babies. Read more about finding healthy baby care products here.
  • When buying upholstered furniture, drapes, and bedding opt for natural textiles and avoid textiles that are chemically treated for stain-resistance, bacterial-resistance and water-proofing.
  • When purchasing new upholstered furniture, avoid polyurethane- foam cores (which contain PBDEs and may off-gas VOCs). Opt for feathers,wool or cotton fill .
  • Allow time and space for new furniture to off-gas away from babies and children, or opt for older furniture that has already off-gased.
  • Opt for toys and other children's items made out of natural materials rather than plastic.
  • When plastic is unavoidable, opt for products that are phthalate-free. Read more in our article 12 ways to protect yourself against the dangers of BPA poisoning.
  • Opt for non-toxic, natural cleaning products.
  • Learn more about household chemicals and why you should avoid them:
    Green child-proofing for toxic tots
    Household chemicals to avoid
    Tricky triclosan
    Detox your house
    Household chemicals to avoid in your laundry detergent
    The healthy baby bottle

    Melanie Leavitt is an environmental writer based in Montreal. She would like to dedicate this article to the memory of her mother, Barbara Leavitt, who worked in the construction industry for almost two decades and dedicated the last 15 years of her life promoting "greener" and healthier construction".