drinking water


The American Academy of Pediatrics is warning of the dangers that some common additives can have.  Additives might be found in foods, but also in packaging.  In a statement and report that were released last week, the organization made a bold declaration – many additives could have disastrous effects on health – especially for children. They are also calling for a dramatic overhaul on how the federal government regulates these chemicals.  But good luck with that one.  The Trump administration is trying to make environmental protections less strict, so I can’t see them making any progress when it comes to children’s health.

The report singles out specific groups of additives that exist.  There are more than 10,000 that are commonly used to preserve, modify or package foods.  Included in the list are bisphenols such as BPA, phthalates, perfluoroalkyl chemicals, or PFCs, nitrates, and artificial food colorings.  It’s thought that these chemicals disturb the endocrine system, which is the network of glands that release hormones responsible for regulating everything from childhood development and growth to our metabolism and sleep cycle.

artificial food coloring

Think about that for a moment.  Right now, the government allows these chemicals in some instances.  While I am not placing blame with this one, I think that we should understand that these are allowable substances that are potentially causing issues in how we sleep.  Keep reading to gain a better understanding of what I mean.

There’s a long list of specific health concerns these chemicals have been linked to, particularly in children. Bisphenols and phthalates might negatively affect or delay puberty as well as raise the risk of obesity, infertility and other chronic conditions. PFC exposure might damage developing fetuses, leading to low birth weight; it might also affect the thyroid, causing an increased risk of immune, muscle, and bone issues. Nitrates have been linked to certain cancers (and other, stranger health risks), while food coloring might play a role in worsening attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The worst part about this is that small amounts of these chemicals can have lifelong consequences.  Which means, these chemicals are bad for you, regardless of which way you look at it.  The medical studies aren’t saying that there is a risk for you if you use these chemicals continually over time.  The studies are saying that even the smallest disruptions in a child’s development, because of these chemicals, can have a lasting impact on that child’s health.

plastic dishes

Many of the riskiest chemicals in these groups have been banned in children’s products, but other ones that are just as bad, remain in adult products.  Many of these chemicals have never been studied for their possible effects on children.  Why?  Things get classified as “Generally Recognized as Safe” or GRAS, by the FDA.  This new report points out that many substances on the GRAS list were placed there in the 1950s, and many of the newer additives are given GRAS status without oversight.  As a result, a 2013 study cited by the report found, two-thirds of additives added directly to food have never been tested for their potential toxicity, even in animals.

This whole idea is scary, in my opinion.  But there are things that you can do to avoid these chemicals.  Buy fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.  Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers.  We know that heating can cause chemicals to leak into your food, and use alternatives to plastic.  If you have to use plastic, find some that are biobased or labeled greenware.