Safety And The Environment

Children's sensitivity

  • Relative to their body size, children eat, drink and breathe more than adults.
  • Children do things differently than adults.
  • Children go through many growth and development stages.
  • Risk is greatest in the womb.
  • Children have a longer lifetime ahead of them.

Why Are Children and Pregnant Women More at Risk to Contaminants? (external link)

Exposure to chemicals

We are exposed to personal care products and cleaning products daily in our homes and work places. Often, by the time someone has had a shower or given their child a bath they have been exposed to more than 12 different products and the chemicals they contain, which can be more than 125 each day. Of course products serve a practical purpose in our everyday lives and we often take for granted that everything we are using is safe. When it comes to personal care and cleaning products, often less is more.

Tips: Get picky with products

Read your labels when shopping for personal care and cleaning products

  • Use non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Baking soda is a good scrubbing powder for sinks and tubs
  • Vinegar mixed with water works well for windows, surfaces and floors
  • Try microfiber clothes for everyday cleaning tasks too
  • Use less air fresheners or scented paraffin candles(Soy candles are a good alternative)
  • Choose fragrance-free laundry detergents, and avoid using dryer sheets if possible
  • The fragrances (or “parfum”) in these products, including those labelled unscented can contain potentially harmful chemicals
  • Vinegar is also a good fabric softener
  • Find a dry cleaner that uses non-toxic methods

Keep all cleaners and other household chemicals out of the reach of children


Try natural smells over artificial scents for a healthier home.

Artificial air fresheners and candles contain many harmful chemicals such as phthalates (external link) (a hormone disruptor). Phthalates are used to make the scent last longer or to mask the scent. They are released into the air when used and settle into dust. The chemicals are not only breathed in by people but also pets living in the home. They can harm the environment by causing air and water pollution.

FlowerGo Natural! – at home, at work and at school

  • Substitute air fresheners with fresh cut or dried flowers such as lavender.
  • Boil cinnamon sticks, apples, peppermint tea or rosemary.
  • Open windows on mild days to air out rooms.

Be careful when using essential oils. These may be harmful to unborn babies and small children. Some are made with artificial fragrances.

Close this section

Choose toys made without harmful chemicals.

Children may take in harmful chemicals from certain toys while playing with, chewing on and touching them. Phthalates are used to soften vinyl products and have been linked to hormone problems. Lead levels are regulated in children’s toys and jewellery but not in other products such as keychain pendants. While chemical exposure from one toy or product may be small, it can add up over time or in combination with other risks it can cause health problems.

Toddler playing with blocksSafe Toy Tips! – at home, at work and at school

  • Throw out scratched or cloudy toys from your child’s toy box.
  • Avoid plastic toys with a strong chemical smell.
  • Do not let children chew on soft bath or inflatable toys, keychain pendants or jewellery.
  • Choose unpainted wooden toys or machine-washable cloth toys.

Health Canada does not allow phthalates in rattles and teething rings but allows it's use in other children’s toys.

Close this section

Compost and recycle to reduce the garbage you produce.

Recycling can reduce the need for landfill space, conserve natural resources, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Composting kitchen and garden waste can reduce household waste by over 30%. It can also provide free fertilizer for your garden and decrease your exposure to environmental contaminants.

RecyclingRecycle and compost what you can! – at home, at work and at school

  • Glass (jars and bottles), paper products, cardboard/containers (milk cartons, juice boxes, cans and plastics).
  • Set aside outdoor leaves and kitchen scraps like vegetables, fruits, tea bags, coffee filters, eggshells.
  • Avoid composting meat and dairy products (they attract animals), dryer lint or vacuum cleaner bag contents (they contain harmful contaminants).
  • For more info Dial 311.
Close this section

Choose stainless steel or glass rather than plastic.

Stainless steel or glass bottles are better than plastic bottles. Some types of plastic contain harmful chemicals that can leach into your beverages. Plastic bottles are harmful to our health and the environment. Most plastics are made of petroleum, a non-renewable resource, and create unnecessary waste in the landfill.

Reusable glass mason jarBe Plastic Free! – at home, at work and at school

If you need to use plastic bottles, baby bottles or sippy cups:

  • Throw out any plastic bottles that are cloudy or scratched.
  • Use disposable plastic water bottles for single use only.
  • Avoid bottles and sippy cups that re made from vinyl, styrene and polycarbonate.

In March 2010, Health Canada banned Bisphenol A from baby bottles. The chemical may pose health risks to unborn babies and small children.

Plastics & the microwave

Use glass dishes in the microwave. They’re safer!

Glass dishware is preferred over plastic for use in your microwave. Some chemicals in plastics are “fat loving” which means the higher the fat content and the higher the temperature the more risks of chemicals leaching into your food. Food warmed up in plastic containers that look cloudy and are scratched also raises your risk.

Make Your Microwave a Plastic Free Zone! – at home, at work and at school

  • Transfer foods from plastic containers such as frozen dinners, onto a glass plate before reheating.
  • Use a glass plate to cover your food.
  • Use paper towels in the microwave to reheat items such as pizza when you’re in a pinch!

Plastics may contain hormone disrupting chemicals like phthalates and Bisphenol A which can leach into food.

Close this section
Close this section