A few years ago, lead in drinking water was big news in Flint, Michigan. In fact, a state of emergency was called. That should give you a clue just how dangerous lead and other environmental chemicals (also called Persistent Organic Chemicals or POPS) are.
During pregnancy, it’s especially important to avoid these chemicals because they can derail proper fetal development, causing long term problems with brain and motor functions in children. You can store chemicals in your body where they could eventually reach your unborn baby or newborn when breastfeeding. This makes it important to watch out for these during all your childbearing years. Here is a quick overview of top ways to avoid POPS from Eating Expectantly.
More recently the American Academy of Pediatrics cautioned parents about food additives and chemicals that can get into food from food packaging, etc, including some of the chemicals listed below. When the AAP releases a statement with a warning like this, it’s best to pay attention!
What about lead and arsenic in baby food?
Take the latest news from The Clean Label Project with a grain of salt says Snopes. Their study found arsenic and lead in a large proportion of baby food, but did not publish their data and it was not peer-reviewed. Remember, the dose makes the poison and some minerals are naturally found in soil. I’ve also written about lead and arsenic found in certain foods using data from Consumer Union, thought to be a more reliable source.Worried about #environmentalchemicals? You should if you're #pregnant or #tryingtoconceive. Read more here: bit.ly/2MEXn7d Click To Tweet
Twenty-Two Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to Persistent Organic Chemicals, Endocrine Disrupting Compounds and Heavy Metals:
- Eat a variety of foods.
- Choose lean meats, removing the fat and skin from all animal products. Choose skim and low-fat dairy products or choose organic for higher fat levels. (Higher fat dairy is recommended while trying to conceive.)
- Choose smaller seafood species fish (trout, tilapia, shrimp) instead of large predatory fish (tuna, shark, swordfish, which contain more mercury).
Eat up to 12 oz. (375 g) of fish per week of those considered safe choices. Find a list of best choices and other info at Purdue University’s Fish4Health.net. Find more advice about eating seafood here.
- Avoid eating oysters, clams and mussels unless you know that they came from a safe area.
- If you live near an industrial area (or where one used to be), have your soil tested before you plant a vegetable garden.
- Avoid storing food in crystal and use caution when using handcrafted pottery from other countries, especially those painted with bright colors.
- Take a close look at your hobbies—they might expose you to paint, adhesives, and metals that contain POPs.
- If you or someone in your family is a sports or recreational fisherman, pay close attention to consumption guidelines posted at fishing sites and at find local fish advisories here.
- If you drink water from a well, have the water tested for nitrates, heavy metals and bacteria when you confirm your pregnancy.
Make sure you have a good source of iron, calcium, vitamin D, copper and zinc in your diet to decrease absorption of heavy metals.
- Be very careful about the type of plastic that comes into contact with your food—avoid the #3-Phthalates, #6 Styrene and #7 recycling codes, unless labeled “biobased” or “greenware”.
- If you are unsure about your water supply, add a filter to your tap.
- Wash produce for at least 30 seconds under running water to remove dirt, bacteria and pesticide residues. Choose organic food if possible, for those highest in pesticide residues–see EWG’s Dirty Dozen. (This year, those superfoods spinach and kale are in the top 5.) Eat more from the Clean Fifteen. (Yay-avocados are the number 1 cleanest!!)
- Avoid exposure to pesticides and herbicides around the house. More on that here. A pest-specific list of alternatives here.
Use glass or stainless steel for containers you use to store, cook in and eat or drink from. Avoid plastic packaging when possible, especially for high fat foods like cooking oil. If you do use plastics in the kitchen, avoid washing them in the dishwasher, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Limit canned foods or choose brands that are labeled BPA-free or are in alternative packaging.
- Limit rice products to once or twice a week and avoid rice milk. More on from the FDA and Consumer Reports.
- Avoid hijiki, a type of seaweed. Hijiki sometimes contains high levels of inorganic arsenic, which is the toxic form of arsenic.
- Avoid or limit exposure to chemicals in the workplace (by both mom and dad). More on that from OSHA.
- Carefully read the labels of products that come into contact with skin, hair and lungs avoiding those that contain fragrance, phthalates and other questionable substances. More info at Skin Deep Database. Read my post Three Ways to Clean up Your Beauty Routine.
- Limit exposure to pesticides. Sometimes you can’t avoid it, but there are also many chemical-free ways to control pests. Find more information about
Pest Control for Expectant Moms here.
For More Information
American Academy of Pediatrics statement about Food Additives
The Endocrine Society’s Second Scientific Statement on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
Environmental Working Group Dirty Dozen
Pesticides: A Risk Factor for ADHD?
Kaleigh @ Lively Table says
I didn’t know about the bright colored pottery! Thanks for sharing!
Erin Palinski-Wade says
Such great tips! I never would have thought to avoid storing food in crystal! Love this!
Catherine Brown says
Wow, you’ve covered it ALL! Nice work Bridget. The only line item I’m unfamiliar with is the warning on crystal. What is the concern here? You’ve included so many useful links too. I’m particularly happy to see you supporting the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. Great resource for anyone!
Abbey Sharp says
These are important tips! Thanks for sharing love
All great tips! Thank you for sharing this extremely important information!
Lauren Harris-Pincus says
These are all great tips. I’m also now concerned about our mattresses and the chemicals used in furniture.
Yes, there’s so much to be aware of now!
Thanks for sharing this!
Glad it was informative!
Whitney E, R.D. says
Such an important topic and I thank you for bringing light to this very serious problem! Your twenty two ways to reduce your exposure to persistent organic chemicals, endocrine disrupting compounds and heavy metals are wonderful and I will most definitely be putting them to use 🙂
Amy Gorin says
This is such a great resources. I will have to pass it along to a few friends!
Thanks for sharing!
EA Stewart The Spicy RD says
Really great post and tips! I love #1-I think variety is SO important. And, I counsel my celiac and gluten-free clients on alternatives to rice d/t the arsenic-I think it’s important not to eat it every day!
Thanks! Yes, most people don’t know about the arsenic issue and it’s definitely something to consider!
Liz Marr says
Great tips, Bridget! Nice job consolidating the myriad science into practical information.