As parents, you work really hard at keeping your kids healthy and safe. When they were born, you bought only the softest blankets for their delicate skin. When they started to crawl, you covered outlets, locked cabinets, and made sure your home was safe. When you cook breakfast, lunch or dinner, you’re making sure they’re eating healthy foods. When they got on their first bike, you made sure they had a helmet. Their health is the most important thing there is.
Every day we send our children off to school to learn so they can grow up to be successful, smart and productive adults. We don’t envision that place of learning to be ground-zero for toxic chemicals, dangerous radiation and carcinogenic food. But, unfortunately, that is the reality today.
The good news is that most of these chemicals can be avoided by simply educating the teachers and administrators about safer choices. As parents, we can also make better choices too (myself included!).
So far this year (and school just started last month), I was asked to supply Lysol wipes, my children have come home with numerous amounts of candy, I’ve been asked to supply diet soda for a class party and suddenly electronic devices are considered the norm for every classroom (and this is elementary school)! And, when I attended the class party, the teacher kept spraying scented spray in the air that was full of endocrine-disrupting fragrance (or phthalates).
Our school also has those crumb-rubber turf fields for the children to play on. They come home with hundreds of tiny pieces of rubber on their shoes, socks and jackets from rolling around in it.
What’s in a School Lunch?
Let’s start off by tackling food. School lunches are a huge source of preservatives that are known carcinogens, hydrogenated oils that clog arteries, high fructose corn syrup and loads of sugar. The chocolate milk alone has 28 grams of sugar, which is more that what a child should consume in one day. Some of the packaged items that are sold at breakfast are atrocious and have basically the same amount of sugar as a candy bar. Even though our particular school sources local produce from nearby farms (which is amazing!), none of it is organic and could be sprayed heavily with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. The majority of school lunch food comes frozen in boxes with labels 4 inches thick and gets reheated.
How do you mitigate this? Pack your child’s lunch and send them off with a good protein-rich breakfast of eggs, oatmeal or a green smoothie. Pack a reusable, stainless steel water bottle every day as well. When a child is fed properly, they have balanced blood sugar and fewer outbursts.
Ask your child’s teacher not to reward them with food. Supply them with stickers, erasers, temporary tattoos or other fun prizes. Ask your school to implement alternative ways to celebrate class birthdays, like extra recess time, special book reading or bring in fruit instead of cupcakes.
Washing with Pesticides?
I’m on a mission to rid the planet of antibacterial soap! The active ingredient in these soaps is Triclosan. This is classified as a Pesticide by the EPA! When combined with chlorine from municipal tap water, a small cloud of chloroform gas is produced and children are breathing this in as they wash their hands. It can cause asthma, allergies and lung irritation. Triclosan also interferes with muscle function and hormone regulation. Look on the label of your hand soap and discard any and all that contain Triclosan. Just use plain soap and water and avoid those antibacterial gels as well.
I also see a lot of baby wipes and Lysol wipes being used in schools. Baby wipes contain endocrine-disrupting parabens and fragrance. Lysol also contains AMMONIUM CHLORIDES that cause respiratory effects and organ effects, plus if you read their website, in order to disinfect a surface, it must be non-porous and remain visibly wet for 4-10 minutes! Then, you must rinse the surface if your hands or food will come into contact with it! I shudder when I think of all those students eating their snacks at their desks.
I joke and tell my friends the real reason that I have signed up to be room mom for the last 5 years is so I can control what’s being doled out to these children, but it’s true. If I’m in charge, then perhaps I can have some control over the amount of sugar or chemicals being fed to my child. Recently, a teacher asked for Diet Soda for a party because, “It contains less sugar.” While this may be true, diet sodas contain artificial sugar (sometimes two) and those are more dangerous than real sugar any day. What kind of message does that send to our children as well that we need “diet” soda? Let’s go with flavored water or 100% juice? If possible, get involved with your child’s class and offer to help plan healthy parties with fruit, cheese and organic snacks.
Turf Fields of Fear
Turf fields are expensive, yet numerous schools are installing them across the country. School boards and the EPA will tell you that they are safe, but dozens of soccer players, football players and young children playing on crumb-rubber fields are getting cancers, like non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The fields are made of recycled, used tires, plastic pellets and rubber-coated sand. When the sun is shining, the turf fields can heat up more quickly with temps 20-30° higher than air temperatures. This releases acetone, benzene, and halogenated flame retardants into the air and it gets inhaled.
Your best option is to tell your children not to play on them when there are other options. Remove their shoes at the door when they get home and don’t lie down on the fields. Consider sharing your concerns with the school board as well. If we don’t say anything, they won’t know our concerns.
Other Possible Toxic Concerns
Do you know what chemicals your school using to clean the toilets, floors, classrooms and cafeteria tables? I don’t, but you can probably bet they’re conventional cleaners with dozens of endocrine-disrupting chemicals and fragrance filled with phthalates.
Make sure your child washes their hands throughout the day and doesn’t put their food directly on a table or surface.
Lastly, I want to address Wi-Fi and cell phone use in young children. A Wi-Fi system in a school is like having a cordless phone in your home with multiple handsets throughout the house. The base station is the headquarters, and all the peripheral phones connect with it wirelessly.
The radiofrequency radiation is continuously transmitted while the system is on 24 hours a day every day. Connections from the computers and other wireless devices throughout the school to the wireless access points cause any user around it, (children, teacher, staff, etc.) to be continuously exposed. A child in a classroom can be irradiated simultaneously by any one computer associated with a different base station in the Wireless Local Area Network.
Symptoms Reported by Children in Schools
According to http://www.safeschool.ca/, these symptoms are being reported by students inside Simcoe County Schools in Canada. Children did not experience these symptoms prior to Wi-Fi’s introduction into the school system.
* Headaches (3-5X per week, that require medicine)
* Dizziness - Nausea - Vertigo (gone after student leaves the school)
* Visual and Auditory Distortion
* Racing Heart Rate (Tachycardia)
* Memory Loss (difficulty remembering school information)
* Attention Deficit (difficulty concentrating while in class)
* Skin Rash (mostly lower leg, goes away on weekends or longer breaks)
* Hyperactivity (appears mostly among children not previously hyperactive)
* Night Sweats (unexplainable, unrelated to fever, and lasting several nights)
* Insomnia (restless sleep)
Consider turning off your WI-Fi connection at home when you sleep. Limit exposure to EMF’s by restricting time on electronic devices. Don’t allow your child to hold a phone close to their head. Let them text instead. If you check your cell phone manual, you will most likely find that it states cell phones should be kept .6 inches from your body. Your cell phone regularly checks in with a cell antenna and if the phone is in your pocket or against your skin, your body absorbs the microwave radiation. Moreover, your reproductive organs get a blast of microwave radiation when a call or text is received.
Children should keep cell phones in a purse or backpack, away from the body.
Where to go from here?
You could throw your hands up in the air and say, “everything will give you cancer today!” Or, you can be proactive and say, “I’m going to do something about this!”
Learn to read labels, ask questions, do a little research and speak up. If we don’t let our voices be heard, nothing will change. By making just a few changes outlined here, you can mitigate your child’s exposure to harmful chemicals, toxins and dangerous radiation.