It's hard to consume the news these days without stumbling upon another strange ingredient or contaminant that's been implicated in a host of health risks. Here's a glossary of toxins in the news that relate to babies and kids:
Bisphenol A (BPA)
An ingredient of polycarbonate (one of the plastics that may have the number 7 recycling mark or the letters PC on the bottom), BPA has been linked to developmental and reproductive problems, prompting some states, municipalities and manufacturers to take steps to stop using it for children's products and materials that come in contact with food.
A group of compounds used as plasticizers and as ingredients in some pliable plastics, some perfumes and personal care products, phthalates mimic the hormone estrogen in ways that are linked to certain birth defects and reproductive problems.
Melamine and cyanuric acid
These nitrogen-rich compounds have been used to artificially (and illegally) boost the apparent protein content of various human and animal food products. The adulteration of pet food and infant formula in China with melamine led to critical illnesses and numerous deaths when the compounds crystallized in the urinary tract, causing severe kidney problems, particularly in infants.
Toxic metals and minerals
Mercury and lead are probably the most familiar and among the most toxic metals. As are asbestos and arsenic. These inorganic substances (meaning they don't contain carbon atoms) persist in many older homes in the form of insulation (asbestos), old paint and plumbing (lead), pressure treated decks (arsenic) and in the environment through the food chain (mercury in fish). Though many uses of these substances have been banned or phased out, some, such as lead, continue to turn up in cheap imports like kid's jewelry. Some applications, like mercury in dental amalgams and fluorescent light bulbs, have yet to be completely eliminated.
To read the rest of this post, including what can be done about toxins, see our Safety blog.