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Household Items That Are Dangerous for Children

Household Items That Are Dangerous for Children
(Heiko Barth/Dreamstime.com)

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 09:44 AM

In the 70-plus years since pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock wrote his then-popular book, “Baby and Child Care,” child rearing has become a more dangerous occupation. But it’s not because the kids have changed; we’ve turned the environment into a minefield.

And some potential dangers are in products that babies and children are exposed to.

Here are a few examples:

Baby Food

The very thing we feed out kids to help them develop strong bones, sharp minds, and healthy bodies may contain toxins.

Earlier this month Consumer Reports indicated that after testing 50 popular brands and flavors of packaged baby foods, they all contained “concerning levels" of at least one heavy metal, including cadmium, lead, and even arsenic.

"This is of a concern because people should not have heavy elements or heavy metals in their food, particularly for their children," James Dickerson, the Consumer Reports chief science officer told "Good Morning America."

And it wasn’t necessarily trace amounts that were discovered in the food. More than half of the products tested — 68 percent — contained levels that were considered “worrisome,” and 30 percent raised concern for children who consume one serving a day on a regular basis.

Products containing rice or sweet potatoes were the ones found to contain the greatest amount of one or more heavy metal -- especially inorganic arsenic.

Dickerson cautioned, however, that parents shouldn’t be alarmed.

"Our message is balance," he said. "As a parent you should not be gravely alarmed by this, but it should be a bit of information that you use to make balanced choices for your children."

Gummy Vitamins

The very thing we give out kids to promote good health may also contain things that aren’t in their best interest -- all in an effort to coax them into taking them.

Take a look at the non-medicinal ingredients in one of America’s most popular brands -- Flintstone’s Complete. They are:

aspartame, butylated hydroxytoluene, carrageenan, citric acid, confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup solids, dextrose monohydrate, dicalcium phosphate, dl-alpha-tocopherol, FD&C Blue #2 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Red #40 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Yellow #6 Aluminum Lake, flavours (cherry, grape, lemon, orange, raspberry, tutti-frutti), gelatin, hydrogenated vegetable oil, magnesium stearate, malic acid, maltodextrin, medium chain triglycerides, microcrystalline cellulose, modified food starch, mono- and di-glycerides, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, pectin, polacrilin, salt, silicon dioxide, sodium aluminum silicate, sodium ascorbate, sodium benzoate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, sorbic acid, sorbitol, starch, stearic acid, sucrose, water.

These include genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the artificial colors are derived from petroleum products.

“The fact that they are in a gummy form to help kids take them easier cancels out any actual health benefits they may offer,” writes Natural Health News & Discoveries.

Chlorine Bleach

It’s hard to find an ordinary household cleaner or detergent that doesn’t contain chlorine bleach -- surface cleaning wipes, counter sprays, toilet bowl cleaners and dishwashing liquid may all contain bleach.

“It’s also used straight out of the bottle for an endless array of cleaning purposes,” Dr. Ellen Kamhi told Newsmax Health. “While it is very effective in killing germs like viruses, bacteria and fungi, it does come with a price. Bleach resides as a residue on all surfaces you use to clean it and travels through the air in your home into your lungs. It’s also absorbed very quickly into your skin and your family members’ skin by everything you touch that was cleaned.”

Compact Fluorescent Lights

The curly, pigtail compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that replaced incandescent light bulbs may be energy-saving -- but they also contain a hidden danger: mercury.

In addition to being a heavy metal, mercury is a strong neurotoxin that can damage the brain, liver, kidneys and central nervous system -- and children are especially susceptible.

Because the mercury is inside the bulb, they’re considered safe so long as they remain intact. If they’re cracked or broken they can open a Pandora’s Box of health issues, including impairment to cognitive ability, emotional problems, and motor function impairment.

If they’re damaged, the Environment Protection Agency recommends:

  • People and pets should immediately leave the room.
  • Open a window and/or door and Air out the room for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system.
  • Thoroughly collect broken glass and visible powder using wet cloths. Never use vacuum cleaners or brooms. Put all debris and cleanup materials in a sealable container and put outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. Do not leaving bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
  • If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.

All that for one bulb. Now consider billions of discarded, broken bulbs lying in the local landfill and you may ask Congress to bring back the old-fashioned, dependable and relatively safe incandescent bulb.

Household and Garden Plants

Household plants create oxygen and brighten any room, and garden fruits and vegetables provide farm-fresh goodness to the dinner table.

They can also be deadly to children and pets.

  • Lily of the Valley may be pretty to look at but contain cardiac glycosides. If eaten, they can cause dizziness, vomiting, rashes, and diarrhea, and if untreated, can result in death.
  • Rhubarb stalks make delicious pies, but consuming the leaves can shut down the kidneys and prove deadly.
  • Foxgloves are pretty, but eating them is akin to "taking an unregulated dose of heart medicine," according to Poison Control.
  • Dieffenbachia, also known as dumb cane and elephant ear, can swell the airway completely shut if ingested. Not a pretty way to go.
  • Hydrangea blossoms contain trace amounts of cyanide. Although it would take a lot to kill a person, it’s still something to consider.
  • Oleander leaves -- even is consumed in small quantities -- can cause death. Symptoms include drowsiness, slowed heart rate, and shaking.
  • Rhododendron and Azalea, if any part is consumed, can be deadly. Symptoms include abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, and paralysis. If untreated, coma and death.
  • Philodendron is a common house plant that can cause irritation, swelling of the throat and difficulty in breathing in ingested.
  • English Yew can cause convulsions, paralysis, and, in extreme cases, heart failure. Every part of the plant is toxic with the exception of the berry.
  • Mistletoe may make an annual appearance at Christmas, but should be kept away from children and pets. It can cause digestive problems, slowed heartbeat and hallucinogenic effects.

Pesticides and Herbicides

Lawn and garden care products can be dangerous, with the industry’s most recent “poster boy” being Roundup, a weed killer manufactured by Monsanto. In early August a San Francisco school groundskeeper won a $289 million judgment after contracting cancer followed by years of using the product.

If such products can be dangerous to an adult, they can be even more so to a child. Keep them out of reach in the garage or locked up in a garden shed.


Water, together with food and air, is one of the basic necessities of life. As a country becomes more industrialized, there comes with it greater opportunity for water table contamination.

Late last year, water at some Northern California schools tested positive for lead, arsenic and copper.

The most reported recent case, however, was the Flint, Michigan water crisis. In a 2014 cost-saving measure, the city opted out of drawing on its former Detroit water supply in favor of using the Flint River as a source.

One year later, the proportion of children with above-average lead in their blood doubled.

Given recent events, a home water filter provides cheap insurance.

Cleaning supplies

Keep all cleaning products out of the reach of children, including laundry detergents.

As cleaners become more powerful and effective, the toxins they contain can remain on the surface and even float in the air after cleaning.

So-called “green” or “organic” cleaners can also be hazardous to your child’s health, and can even be carcinogenic, and should be kept out of the hands of children.


A sub-set of Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong,” is “Any toy or part of a toy small enough to be swallowed will be swallowed.”

And anything that can be swallowed is capable of choking a child.

In addition to the danger of choking is a possible toxicity problem.

Early this month the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund found that Playskool crayons tested positive for trace amounts of asbestos.

“There is no reason to be exposing kids to a known carcinogen, especially in crayons,” U.S. PIRG toxics director Kara Cook-Schultz said, The Washington Post reported.

Then again, baby powder also tested positive for trace amounts of asbestos.

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In the 70-plus years since pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock wrote his then-popular book, “Baby and Child Care,” child rearing has become a more dangerous occupation. But it’s not because the kids have changed; we’ve turned the environment into a minefield.
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Wednesday, 05 September 2018 09:44 AM
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