Arsenic: A poisonous contaminant found in older outdoor play structures and wooden surfaces.
- Tip for prevention: Replace older wooden decks and play sets with safer alternatives like cedar. Apply a sealant every six months to create a barrier between your children and the chemical.
Asbestos: A mineral fiber used in construction materials of older homes. Thanks to legislation, this toxin is less of a problem than it was in the past.
- Tip for prevention: Have a certified contractor check your home, especially the basement.
Bisphenol-A (BPA): A chemical that may be used in plastic containers, like baby bottles, baby formula canisters and the inner linings of metal cans.
- Tip for prevention: Buy glass bottles or BPA-free products. Avoid plastic #7.
Phthalates: Often used in pacifiers, bath toys, and other soft toys - items that children may put in their mouths.
- Tip for prevention: Look for items labeled phthalate-free.
Carbon Monoxide: Odorless and colorless, it is produced when fuels like wood, charcoal, gas, or kerosene are burned.
- Tip for prevention: Have fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, water heaters, gas stoves, and ovens) inspected every year. Buy a carbon monoxide detector for your home.
Flame Retardants: Found in household dust from flame-resistant mattresses, foam-padded furniture, computer screens, TVs, and curtains.
- Tip for prevention: Replace old furniture with exposed foam. Buy products that are made from natural fibers like cotton and wool, which are less flammable.
Formaldehyde: Foam insulation and cabinets made from pressed wood can release formaldehyde into the air.
- Tip for prevention: Hire an industrial hygienist to test your home's insulation for formaldehyde. If levels are high, replace the insulation.
Lead: Still found in homes built before 1978 - when lead was banned from paints and gasoline.
- Tip for prevention: Have a certified lead inspector examine your house.
Mercury: Fish like tuna, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish contain high levels of this toxic metal.
- Tip for prevention: Make sure your children eat fish that are lower in mercury content - like shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
Perchlorate: This toxin has been found in drinking water, baby formula, and some foods.
- Tip for prevention: Contact your local water company to see if your water contains perchlorate. If your drinking water comes from a private well, have it tested privately.
Pesticides: Pesticides are designed to be toxic to the nervous system, killing insects in the lawn. Children can be exposed by playing outside or can track pesticides in the house.
- Tip for prevention: Use substitutes for chemical treatments. If your children play on pesticide-treated lawns, make sure they take their shoes off before entering the house.
Radon: This colorless and odorless gas can seep up from the ground of buildings built on rock formations.
- Tip for prevention: Test for radon when purchasing a new home or test your current home with a radon detector.
Solvents: As chemicals that evaporate into the air, children can be exposed in high traffic areas, through contaminated water, and by using some aerosol products.
- Tip for prevention: Avoid high traffic areas and avoid the use of aerosols.
Tobacco Smoke: Secondhand smoke has many long term health effects, like asthma, hyperactivity, and respiratory illness.
- Tip for prevention: If you smoke, smoke outside to prevent secondhand smoke.
Triclosan: A broad-spectrum antibacterial, found in antibacterial soaps, sanitizers, plastics, and cleaning products.
- Tip for prevention: Use old-fashioned soap and water, not antibacterial cleaning products.