Wet your whistle with water. Americans drink an overwhelming amount of sodas, sports drinks, energy boosters, juices (that often contain little juice), and other bottled beverages. The first problem with this is that most of these drinks are loaded with sweeteners and artificial flavors and colors. The second is that they're bottled in plastic, which can leach additional chemicals into the drink.
Your body is roughly 70% water, so hydrate it with water! Skip the single-use bottled water which can be contaminated by the plastic bottle (it’s also less regulated than tap water.) Make an investment in a water filter and reusable stainless steel water bottles. They quickly pay for themselves.
Test for lead while planning your pregnancy. Lead is a potent neurotoxicant that is stored in the bones and can be passed to a developing baby through the placenta. Test your paint if your home was built before 1978. The US Environmental Protection Agency maintains a list of certified labs where you can send paint samples. Removal of lead paint must only be done by a professional and pregnant women should stay away from the area until it is thoroughly cleaned. Test your tap water for lead and talk to your doctor about having your blood tested for lead.
Use fewer personal care products. Many personal care products contain chemicals that disrupt hormones your baby will rely on for proper development. And others contain carcinogens and neurotoxicants, among other things. The best thing for you and baby is to reduce how much you use and to choose the safest products.
Look for products with fewer ingredients -- ideally those with the USDA Certified Organic Seal. Avoid products with Parabens, Phthalates (DEHP, BBP, DBP, DMP, DEP), DMDM Hydantoin, Fragrance, Triclosan, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, DEA (diethanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine), Formaldehyde, PEGs (polyethylene glycol), and anything with "glycol" or "methyl."
Clean without toxic chemicals. You don't need a chemical arsenal to keep your home clean. Basic ingredients like baking soda and vinegar can tackle most household chores. Or, you can look for natural products at the store (don't be fooled by marketing, though. Check the label for ingredients.) Avoid products that say poison, warning, or danger and products with unidentified "fragrance." You should also avoid the top toxics: nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), triclosan, ammonia, chlorine bleach, DEA, TEA, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide, and sulfuric acid.
Christopher Gavigan is the former Chief Executive Officer of Healthy Child Healthy World. For more than a decade, he has dedicated himself to improving the lives of children and families. He holds degrees in environmental science and geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has extensive graduate training in child psychology and education. He is the best-selling author of "Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home".
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