Wen (Women’s Environmental Network) has today (14 June) launched the first ever Green Baby Day – a day of action calling for a sustainable and toxic-free future for babies and children, and their parents and carers.
The aim of Green Baby Day is to provide information to help families make healthy, eco-friendly and affordable choices to minimise exposure to harmful chemicals.
It also focuses the attention on our government’s responsibility to ensure effective chemicals regulation to protect current and future generations, especially post Brexit.
A Green Baby Day Action Toolkit is available for individuals, businesses and organisations to download.
There is also a free online event with guest speakers and a giveaway to win over £100 in Weleda baby products.
Exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides is a feature of everyday lives in our homes, workplaces and in the wider environment.
There are tens of thousands of chemicals in regular commercial use, with little or no health and safety information.
Many of these chemicals can harm our health, the health of our children and that of future generations – including in our capacity to reproduce and reach our full potential.
Children are particularly vulnerable, but to the developing foetus even small exposures can have serious and lifelong health consequences – especially at specific times during gestation.
Prebirth or early-life exposure to certain chemicals has been linked to a range of diseases including cancer, birth defects, fertility, developmental, neurological and immune disorders.
Harmful chemicals can adversely impact our respiratory, reproductive, cardiovascular and urinary systems, and disrupt our endocrine system (which is our body’s messenger system controlling every aspect of life).
These chemicals – and even microplastics from consumer products – have a nasty habit of ending up where they shouldn’t.
Recent examples include microplastic in baby poo and the 109 toxic chemicals – such as flame retardants, cosmetics ingredients and plasticisers – found in maternal and umbilical cord blood, including 55 that had never been found in people before.
Even everyday cleaning products like laundry detergents can release harmful, air-polluting chemicals in the form of volatile organic compound (VOCs), which have been linked to asthma, cancer and developmental harm.
Hormone-disrupting chemicals have also been found in 60% of over 120 children’s products tested, including baby blankets, sippy cups and teething toys.
‘Forever’ chemicals such as PFAS can affect foetal and maternal health.
It has also become increasingly difficult to conceive; sperm counts have more than halved in the last 40 years, a decline of 60% since 1973, and women have experienced a big increase in impaired fecundity (the ability to have children).
Unfortunately, this is not restricted to older women, as younger women have had the biggest increase. This has been linked to many of the harmful chemicals we are exposed to daily.
‘Post Brexit, the transposition from the gold standard European chemicals regulation REACH means many of the safeguards in place to protect health and environment are up for discussion. England and the citizens of the devolved governments deserve a strong UK REACH, and we need to let our politicians know this.’
Green Baby campaigner
All these issues are compounded by where you live. Poor housing, air pollution, unsafe workplaces and other socio-economic factors impact the survival of children.
Compared with other ethnicities in the UK, Black African and Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi babies are nearly twice as likely to be from deprived areas and therefore much more affected by the higher rates of neonatal death associated with deprivation.
Women living in the most deprived areas have an 80% higher risk of stillborn and neonatal death than those living in more affluent areas.
Green Baby Day has teamed up with Weleda, creator of natural and organic skincare products, to give away over £100 worth of its calendula baby care products.
Guest speakers Elizabeth King, Weleda’s skincare expert and Charlotte Brody, national director for Healthy Babies Bright Futures and vice president for Health Initiatives of the BlueGreen Alliance, will take part in a free online event, ‘Why should we be talking about harmful chemicals?’ at 13.00-14.00 on 14 June.
Click here to book your place and find out why we should be concerned about toxic chemicals in everyday products and how we can take action to reduce our exposure.