Friday, November 21, 2008

Part One of Children and Cleaning Chemicals

Here is the first installment in "Children and Cleaning Chemicals." This is a huge topic, so I thought I would just start with the story of how I first became aware of the possible hazards.

Being a concerned mother of four, I do care about the wellness of my family and the toxins in my home. But this concern has taken different action over the past years. When I had Rainbow, I gave cleaning products a great deal of thought and tried to make as many as I could using earth friendly ingredients and recipes I found online. Then, after the arrival Spiderman, I needed convenience and so I tried some of the green cleaners found at health food stores. This was expensive so at times I had to just use the chemicals that choke you in the cleaning aisles of grocery stores. And finally, after Witzy joined the famliy, I needed maximum convenience and minimum price. So I started to use Clorox wipes, among other things.

Unfortunately, I was doing more harm than good. A friend of mine suggested I watch Toxic Brew, a news segment produced by a Canadian news station. After watching this, the reality of what I was bringing into my home began to dawn on me. Particularly eye opening to me was how long chemicals stay suspended in the air.

Only a month or so later, I heard of the work of Dr. Doris Rapp, who researches the effects of harmful chemicals on children’s health. In one of her studies, she tested the effect of bleach fumes on six-year-olds’ handwriting. I looked at the printed results, and was amazed at the evidence. Before a bottle of bleach was opened, students wrote their names fairly well. Then, with just an opened bottle of bleach in the room and the fumes wafting through the air, the children wrote their names dramatically different. Some wrote messy, some too small to read, and one even wrote backwards.

Being the devil’s advocate that I am, I thought: "Well, they just printed up the worst case scenarios. Certainly it wouldn’t effect my kids this way." So, I determined to do the same test at home. I didn’t tell my kids what I was doing. I only told them to write as neatly as they could. They printed their names on a sheet of paper. Then, I told them to hold up their papers while I wiped the table off with a Clorox wipe. As soon as it was dry enough, I had them put their papers down and write their names again. I was shocked! Rainbow's writing was visibly messier; instead of letters being tight and connected, they were loopy and crooked. Spiderman was completely distracted by something while he was writing his name! This is uncharacteristic of him. He has no attention difficulties. When he realized that he was talking about something else, he stopped mid-sentence and said: "Wait, I’m supposed to be writing my name!" The next letter he wrote was upside-down, which my son had never done before.

I took it to the next level and had my children move to another room where there were no Clorox fumes. They wrote their names again and proved that without being "under the influence" they could write just as neat as the first time. I could clearly see that the chemicals were affecting both writing ability and focus.

There is more to come on this topic! Take the time to watch Toxic Brew and I will post the more thought-provoking evidence soon.


Kara said...

very interesting post! have you found a non-toxic dishwasher detergent that works well? I just tried Seventh Generation and had to re-wash half the loads by hand. :(

Amy Ellen Kise said...

Yes, I do love a non-toxic dishwasher detergent! If you don't like it, it has a money back guarantee!