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Did You Know? Safer Bug Repellants, Baby Bottles, & Baby Cleaners

Bug Off: Non-Toxic, Green Repellents

With summer comes the arrival of bugs, and many of us turn to conventional products on the shelves of grocery stores, pharmacies and big box giants. But what is in these products? The labels – and warnings – show a chemical cocktail of ingredients that may pose serious health risks, especially for children.

The need to protect kids with a product that works is paramount, and sometimes a challenge with “all natural” insect repellents. However, research performed at North Carolina State University has led to the development of BioUD™, made from a naturally-occurring compound in wild tomato plants. BioUD “demonstrates 100 percent repellency against mosquitoes up to three hours after application and 99 percent up to 4.5 hours in forest and marsh conditions.” (1)

Just last month, the EPA registered the product to be used directly on skin, with no child restrictions. It has proven very effective against ticks, particularly American dog ticks (which carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) and deer ticks (carriers of Lyme disease). BioUD is scheduled to be available in the BiteBlocker line of products, recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil, in June.

The full line of BiteBlocker repellents, including versions for fabrics, pets and the home, are available online, and from select Wal-Mart stores, Whole Foods Markets, and other retailers nationwide. The original BiteBlocker formula contains soybean oil, purified water, coconut oil, glycerin, geranium oil, citric acid, lecithin, sodium bicarbonate and vanillin. For more information, including research articles and other product ingredients, see


aiden_bottleBetter Bottles

The popularity of clear, hard-plastic baby bottles made from polycarbonate has skyrocketed in the last decade. They are available in a range of trendy shapes and sizes that parents love. But, what many don’t know is that these bottles are made with the chemical bisphenol A, which can leach into baby’s drink.

Consumer Reports was one of the first U.S. publications to cover this topic for general audiences in the late '90s. Yet, despite this and other news stories in past years, clear baby bottles still dominate store shelves.

In February 2007, the non-profit, Environment California, released data on tests conducted on polycarbonate baby bottles. The results reinforce other data showing that new polycarbonate bottles leach small amounts of this chemical. Bisphenol A at these levels “have caused abnormalities in the mammary and prostate glands and the female eggs of laboratory animals," scientists say. Animal tests also show bisphenol A can speed up puberty and add to weight gain. The bottles tested were manufactured by Dr. Brown’s (by Handi-craft Co.), Evenflo, Gerber, Philips Avent and Playtex. (2)

What is safe? First, remember not to heat any food or drink in plastic, including plastic wraps. The safest way to heat items is on a ceramic or glass plate or container. A baby’s bottle can be heated under warm running water or with a bottle warmer. Avoid microwaves when possible, which can diminish vitamins in food, including breast milk.

Bottles free of bisphenol A include Evenflo glass bottles, available at major retail stores (such as Target) and select supermarkets. Any bottle that is opaque (not see-through) plastic is also free of bisphenol A. These are manufactured by companies such as Gerber and available at most retailers where baby products are sold. Born Free ( offers clear plastic bottles that are bisphenol A free, which retail on their website and at select Whole Foods stores.

Baby_in_BlanketCleaner Babies

Bathing children is, for many families, an end-of-day ritual. But knowing what we’re using on their skin is essential. Recent laboratory tests released by environmental author David Steinman and the nonprofit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found the carcinogen 1,4-Dioxane in a range of children’s bath washes and bubble baths.

 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists 1,4-Dioxane as a probable human carcinogen, while the National Toxicology program recognizes it as an animal carcinogen. Most parents and caregivers are unaware that the FDA does not require safety testing on cosmetics before being sold to the public. This opens a pandora’s box for manufacturers, who may bring to market many products containing a cocktail of unproven, unsafe chemicals. Thousands of these products are marketed to children. For a listing of the products tested, and the amounts of 1,4-Dioxane found in each, visit: The toxic chemical was also found in several adult shampoos.

For healthier alternatives for your baby, natural and organic products are available at many major food stores and mass merchandisers, as well as health food stores. But beware – some of the “natural” products made by major retailers, including Johnson’s and Huggies, contained the 1,4-Dioxane. Choose brands such as Aubrey Organics and Earth’s Best Baby Care to avoid unnecessary chemicals.

Works Cited:
Nichols, Keith. “EPA Approves Safer Insect Repellent Based on Compound Developed at NC State” (News Release) April 13, 2007, accessed from May 11, 2007.

Kay, Jane. San Francisco Chronicle: Lawmaker wants state to follow city's lead with 'toxic toy' ban. Bill would bar certain chemicals in products. February 28, 2007.
BAGFUOCKIU1.DTL&hw=bisphenol&sn=001&sc=1000, accessed 4/26/07

Works Consulted:
Consumer Reports, “What’s in that Bottle?” 1/03 -
index.htm?resultPageIndex=1&resultIndex=1&searchTerm=bisphenol-A, accessed 4/26/07

Environmental Working Group,, accessed 4/26/07

Min, Shirley. NBC-17 News Report, “Local Researchers Develop Organic Bug Spray,” May 10, 2007, accessed from
2007-05-10-0006.html on 5/11/07 May 11, 2007.


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