The Green Home
After losing their 5-year-old daughter to a nonhereditary form of cancer called Wilm's Tumor, linked with pesticide exposure, environmental architect Jim Chuda and his wife, Nancy, started the Children's Health Environmental Coalition (checnet.org) and set out to create a "green home" in the Hollywood Hills of Southern California. They used sustainable resources, nontoxic finishes, solar power, a water filtration system and "healthy" decor, such as natural-fiber rugs, to create an elegant and contemporary home that's environmentally friendly. Here are some of their techniques:
Increase ventilation The Chudas' home has easy access to fresh air through large windows. Keeping windows and doors closed traps dangerous pollutants indoors, especially when you're vacuuming, dusting, frying, folding clothes or painting. Open them when doing these activities.
Purchase safe cleaning products Look for products that list all ingredients or have been certified by an independent "green" organization such as Green Seal.
Install a water filter The green home has a whole-house filter system; water filters remove lead, chlorine, mercury and other chemicals. For a list of effective filters, visit nsf.com.
Furnish naturally Choose fabrics made from natural fibers, such as wool rugs. The Chudas' home has both cork and bamboo flooring, which don't emit toxic fumes.
Plant a pesticide-free garden It's easy to grow your own herbs and vegetables if you're so inclined. Go to eartheasy.com for natural pest-control ideas.
5 Things You Should Never Do
1. Don't mix cleaning products If chlorine-containing products such as bleach make contact with ammonia-based glass cleaner, dishwashing liquid, metal cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner or rust remover, potentially fatal fumes can result. Always follow label directions.
2. Don't microwave foods in plastic containers that contain BPA Polycarbonate is a plastic commonly used to make baby bottles and infant dinnerware. Bisphenol A (BPA), molecules used to create polycarbonate, can leach into high-fat and acidic foods when heated. BPA has been found to alter functions in the developing brain cells. Make sure to transfer foods into a glass bowl or nonplastic container when heating.
3. Don't use solvents in confined spaces Solvents in cleaners, glues, adhesives and similar materials release fumes that can be harmful to you and your baby.
4. Don't use paint containing VOC (volatile organic compounds) in your home VOC exposure can damage the liver, kidneys and central nervous system and cause many other ill health effects; some are known to be human carcinogens. When it's time to paint the nursery, use a low-VOC primer such as Benjamin Moore Eco Spec Interior Latex Primer Sealer and no-VOC paint such as Baby's HealthyHues (healthyhome.com) or Sherwin-Williams Harmony Interior Latex Paint (sherwin.com). To determine if the paint you are using contains VOCs, check the label or product literature; a low-VOC brand of latex paint should have no more than 250 grams per liter. Also, choose water-based latex paint instead of oil-based, which tends to have higher levels of toxic ingredients. Ask a paint professional if you need help.
5. Don't change the litter box during your pregnancy Cat feces sometimes contain a parasite called toxoplasma gondii that may cause toxoplasmosis, a rare but serious infection that can result in brain and eye damage in the fetus. Ask your partner to take over this duty.
The Dirty Dozen
The column at left below lists the 12 most pesticide-laden produce foods when grown conventionally; the other lists the least contaminated, according to a study done by the Environmental Working Group. When eating foods from the most contaminated list, go organic whenever possible.
|Most Contaminated||Least Contaminated|
|Grapes (imported)||Sweet peas|