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2013 Summer Survival Guide: Hidden Toxins

Christopher Gavigan on how to avoid harmful exposure

sprinkler

When we want to learn where hidden toxins lie, we go straight to our Eco Expert, Honest Company co-founder Christopher Gavigan. We asked what to look out for this summer, and he told us about five ways kids might be exposed to toxins at this time of year—and offered tips for how to avoid them.

1. Playing in the grass. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that nearly 70 million pounds of active pesticide ingredients are applied to lawns and gardens each year. Use natural, non-toxic methods to care for your lawn, and be sure to ask about what’s been applied at parks or any public places you frequent.

2. Drinking from the hose. It’s a classic thirst-quencher, but hose water can contain a cocktail of heavy metals and toxic chemicals, according to new testing from from HealthyStuff.org. Skip hose water (even for your veggie garden) unless the label says the hose is drinking water safe and you’ve tested the water for lead.

3. Wearing sunscreen. Many sunscreens contain potentially toxic ingredients. Avoid PABA, oxybenzone, nanoparticles, parabens, and phthalates (and check out Honest Co.'s blog post about infant sunscreen safety).

4. Using bug spray. Yes, you want to protect your kid from Lyme Disease and West Nile. But bug sprays can contain some seriously toxic chemicals. Avoid products containing DEET, permethrin, and synthetic fragrances.

5. Grilling meat. Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are carcinogenic compounds that form in meat cooked at high temperatures. Reduce exposure by trimming excess fat; grilling in low, indirect heat (or pre-cooking meat in your oven and finishing it on the grill); removing charring from cooked meet; and keeping the grill clean.