This stuff, like Aveeno Baby Soothing Diaper Rash Cream, is heavy in petroleum by-products and bafflingly laced with the dodgiest of preservatives, including propyl parabens, banned from children's items in Denmark because of their endocrine-disrupting potential. Ll'l Goat's also has formaldehyde-releasing diazolidinyl urea. Pass. $10.50/142 gms
BURT'S BABY BEE DIAPER OINTMENT
A better than average mainstream pick, especially for anyone looking for zinc. This one's got almond oil, a lovely oil that is, however, problematic for kids with nut allergies. Burt's also uses conventional but GMO-free soybean and canola oil. FYI, soy is a top allergen. U.S.-made. $9.99/55 gms
LIVE CLEAN BABY DIAPER OINTMENT
Since soybean oil is falling out of favour, a better drugstore pick may be Canadian-made Live Clean's ointment. It's got the zinc some look for, but in a castor oil and jojoba base. And it's free of synthetic fragrance (uses organic lavender), unlike the brand's adult line. Zinc creams are not recommended for those using cloth diapers; they're hard to wash out. $10/75 gms
SUBSTANCE NAPPY RASH OINTMENT
There are so many awesome indie Canadian bum balms out there, but the one I often give at baby showers is this one, now mostly organic. Zinc-free, with healing calendula, marshmallow root, St. John's wort, yarrow and myrrh in a nut-free base of organic shea and sunflower oil. No lavender. $18/80 gms
Head to the food aisle of your local health store and stock up on fair trade organic coconut oil or more local organic sunflower oil. They're both naturally antimicrobial and clinically effective against skin infections. Maison Orphée out of Quebec is my fave feel-good source for coconut. Smells naturally divine - if you like coconut. They do Canadian sunflower, too. $12.99/454 gms
Get sidetracked singing in the shower and you're wasting 9 litres of water per minute. This handy little egg with mini-hourglass lets you know your five minutes are up and it's time to get out ($2.99). itseasybeinggreen.com
Toxins turn up in umbilical cords
A new report by Environmental Defence, released June 26, reveals that Canadian babies are popping out of the womb pre-polluted. ED tested three umbilical cord blood samples in the Toronto/Hamilton area for 310 chemicals and found a total of 137 toxins.
Ecoholic gets the dirt from Maggie MacDonald, ED's toxics program manager.
Are people wrong to believe the umbilical cord acts as a filter keeping chemicals away from the baby?
The first evidence of toxic substances passing through the umbilical cord was published in the late 1960s. But in the same way that we think of our skin as armour despite the fact that chemicals can penetrate it and reach the bloodstream, the belief in the placenta and umbilical cord as barriers persists. They do protect the developing fetus but cannot completely keep out toxic pollutants.
What impacts can trace chemicals in the womb have on health?
The chemicals we tested for have impacts ranging from lowered IQ to thyroid problems and cancer. The chemicals in the umbilical cord blood samples were detected at low levels. Still, this is cause for concern, because toxicity assessments are usually based on adult exposures, and little is known about how low-level and cumulative, synergetic exposures to heavy metals, endocrine-disruptors and carcinogens affect a fetus or newborn. Newborns don't have the physiological defences adults have, and studies show the endocrine system is more sensitive to the effects of toxic exposures during gestation, infancy and puberty.
What chemicals did you find at the highest levels?
The PBDEs (flame retardants), particularly decaPBDE, which makes sense since these are still allowed in products in Canada. The second-highest detection levels were seen in the PCB tests. We found 96.
If I were pregnant/nursing or just hoping to be, what items would you tell me to toss from my life pronto?
Ask companies about their flame retardant policies before purchasing furniture. A great way to reduce PBDEs in your home without spending money is to mop and or vacuum frequently to reduce dust. Many persistent pollutants linger in house dust.
If Canadians harass their MPs about one thing, what should it be?
The federal government should move to ban harmful chemicals from products, and research and promote safer substitutions. When something is declared toxic, we want to see clear dates as to when the toxin will be taken out of products. The government should also test chemicals in products before they can be sold.
Bag ban bites the dust
Toronto's flirtation with a plastic bag ban is officially over faster than a summer romance. Council voted it in last June but soon stripped it of any legal enforceability in the face of a string of lawsuits. Councillor David Shiner, who originally moved the motion, had been holding out hope that the ban could be revived, but alas, Rob Ford made a guest appearance at last week's Public Works Committee meeting, and now the T-dot will continue to chuck a few hundred million single-use plastic bags every year.
FrankenFries with that?
U.S.-based Food & Water Watch is cooking up a new campaign targeting McDonald's fries. A pre-emptive strike, the group wants Mickey D's to speak out against GMO potatoes before the U.S. Department of Agriculture decides whether to give the green light to a fresh breed of franken-spuds developed by fast food tater supplier J.R. Simplot. "Thanks to their famous fries, McDonald's is the single largest purchaser of potatoes in the United States. That's why we're calling on them right now, before the GE potato is even approved, to commit that they won't buy it." McDonald's already pulled GMO potatoes from the fryer under consumer pressure back in 2000.