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Environmental connections to public health >>

But mom, they're pretty.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Last week I lamented the nail polish offered to my 3-year-old daughter by our hairdresser. This week, I'm back with another toxic situation on my hands. This time, from the dentist. And again, my daughter.

Her first trip to the dentist So here's the story: we love our dentist. They work wonders with kids, never complain about the complications with our dental insurance, and are conveniently located. So what's not to love, right?

The treasure box, that's what. You know the drill: the kids do well in the chair, so they get rewarded with a trip to the treasure box, where they can select any (often toxic) trinket that their little heart desires.

Taking things away - all. the. time. OK, so this might seem like small potatoes compared to the positives, but when my kids come home with brightly colored play necklaces (most likely covered in lead paint), I'm not so happy. And when I have to get rid of yet another toy because it is/might be harmful to my children's health, I'm even more unhappy. As are they.

As I said last week, I regularly say "no" to my kids (don't we all?), but what gets me is how I often I find myself taking away seemingly simple pleasures because they're not simple, not when they're toxic.

And since I don't - and won't - have access to an expensive lead testing machine, I make decisions based on what I've read (kids jewelery often contains lead paint) and the fact that - and here's the big one for me - I've lost my trust in the government and manufacturers to protect my kids' environmental health. Which is precisely why I've taken on that role myself.

"But mama, it doesn't have lead in it" Since my my daughter is three, she still puts things in her mouth. Like play necklaces...and the lead that may well be on them. The serious adverse effects of lead are well known, and as a parent I take them seriously. The likelihood that painted play jewelery contains lead paint is also pretty well known - though without testing it I can't be sure.

It breaks my heart and makes me really mad all at the same time to hear my daughter say "But mama, it doesn't have lead in it," to convince me to let her keep the necklaces.

I don't want to take the necklaces away. Really, I don't. But isn't it my job, as her caregiver, to keep her away from lead and any other toxic chemical that could hurt her? To take away the necklaces because they aren't safe? What would you do? Do you feel this way, too? Some good news: The Kid-Safe Chemicals Act I take heart in knowing that the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act is gaining traction. And that I can get behind it and DO something to improve this mess, right from home. Visit our Kid-Safe web page to see what it's all about it and get involved. You can get started right now by signing The Declaration.

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