Greening Our Children Committee Meetings

Each month, the Greening Our Children benefit committee meets to plan the annual luncheon and learn about a new topic in children’s environmental health. A researcher from the Children’s Environmental Health Center delivers a lecture and teaches guests how to prevent environmental exposures at home. Past meetings include:

How to Read a Product Label [PDF] 
Sarah Evans, PhD
Fellow in Children’s Environmental Health

Steps you can take to improve the safety of your products:

  • Read labels and beware of “greenwashing”
  • Use fewer products whenever possible
  • Opt for fragrance free
  • Avoid phthalates, triclosan, parabens, formaldehyde, compounds ending in ‘-eth’ and PEG
  • Support companies that are reducing the use of toxic chemicals in personal care products
  • Support ongoing research on the effects of common chemicals – science is needed to inform policy
  • Support the Safe Chemicals Act
  • Utilize your social networks to educate others

Some key ingredients to avoid:

  • Phthalates (not on the label – avoid fragrance/parfum)
  • Triclosan
  • Parabens
  • Formaldehyde (also formed from DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea and Imidazolidinyl Urea)
  • 1,4-dioxane (not on the label - avoid sodium laureth sulfate, ceteareth, polyethylene glycol/PEG)

Helpful resources:

Safer Steps to Teen and Tween Beauty [PDF] 
Nancy Mervish, PhD
Fellow in Children’s Environmental Health

Steps your teen or tween can take to prevent exposures in personal care products:

  • Use fewer products whenever possible
  • Read labels carefully
  • Use natural spa recipes [PDF]
  • Learn how to identify nanoparticles in personal care product

How to Identify Nanoparticles in Five Personal Care Products

Product Nanoparticles:
How They Appear on Labels
Other Chemical Additives
Toothpaste Aluminum/Alumina/Aluminum Oxide
Silica/Silica Dioxide
Titanium/Titanium Dioxide
Zinc/Zinc Oxide
Triclosan
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Phosphate salts, propylene, glycol
Deodorant Titanium/Titanium Dioxide
Zinc/Zinc Oxide
Parabens
Phthalates
Sunscreen/ SPF ingredients Aluminum/Alumina/Aluminum Oxide
Titanium/Titanium Dioxide
Zinc/Zinc Oxide
Benzophenone
Avobenzone
Homosalate
Octisalate
Octicrylene
Oxybenzone
Body Lotion Gold Silver/Silver Oxide
Titanium/Titanium Dioxide
Zinc/Zinc Oxide
Parabens
Phthalates
Lipstick/Lipgloss Aluminum/Alumina/Aluminum Oxide
Titanium/Titanium Dioxide
Zinc/Zinc Oxide
Lead in some brands

Phthalates and Childhood Behavior [PDF] 
Roni Kobrosly, PhD, MPH
Fellow in Children’s Environmental Health

How avoid phthalate exposure:

  • Avoid artificially scented products (detergents, car products, etc)
  • Within reason, try to reduce your use of personal care products
  • Avoid highly processed food
  • Avoid recycling codes 3 (contains PVC) and 7 (polycarbonate).
  • IMPORTANT: It is good to try to avoid these exposures within the constraints of one’s disposable income and time, but stressing out the purity of one’s home environment can itself become a health problem!

Additional resources:

  • The Environmental Working Group: Fantastic organization that empowers consumers with knowledge. They rate the safety of thousands products. Entirely publicly available.
  • Environmental Health News: A slightly more technical but still accessible blog that gives updates on environmental policy, news, and science. Founded by Pete Myers, a scientist who Al Gore has worked with.
  • Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families: Website that advocates for the Safe Chemicals Act and gives legislative updates.