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Categories
Chemicals

Chemi-dictionary

Your baby and chemicals have both advantages and drawbacks

Most chemicals in our everyday life has a function that we cannot do without.

Some substances cannot be avoided or banned if they are found as environmental pollution or as natural contents in food that we cannot avoid. That is why it is important to follow the advice to expose one’s child to as few problematic chemicals as possible.

If substances that can pose a risk are used in products the authorities will work to ban them. But some chemicals which might pose a risk cannot be banned due to lacking proof. It takes time to phase out the chemicals because you must make sure that the manufacturers need to find an alternative, without it giving other – and perhaps bigger – problems for both the environment and humans.

Chemicals

Hormones control a lot of what happens in our bodies, and they help control how the child develops in your stomach.

The endocrine system can be affected by external factors, such as stress and chemicals. Certain chemicals can harm fetal development, because they have the same effect as the natural hormones in your body. Other substances block the effect of the natural hormones in your body or change their function. As a whole, these substances are called endocrine disruptors.

Several chemicals from food, the indoor climate, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, etc. have proven to disrupt the endocrine system in animals and are now suspected to do the same in humans.

What it means for your child

The endocrine disruptors can affect a great many processes in our bodies – especially if we are exposed in utero. The substances are believed to impact our ability to have children, and they cause malformed genitalia, especially in boys. Furthermore, the substances are suspected to potentially accelerate puberty in girls and to be carcinogenic.

Some bisphenols are suspected endocrine disruptors. E.g. bisphenol A is on the EU list of potential endocrine disruptors. It is not allowed in materials that come into contact with foods to children under age 3, but it is found in things like store receipts, in the plastic material polycarbonate, and in many canned products, such as in varnish on the inside to prevent the can rusting from within.

There are still divided opinions as to the amounts it takes for the substance to have a harmful effect in humans. Certain animal studies indicate that bisphenol A is harmful in very low concentrations – also called low-dose effects. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency is following developments in this area closely.

Replacing bisphenol A in all uses is not easy, however, as our knowledge of alternatives doesn’t readily indicate that a better replacement substance exists.

Bisphenol A in store receipts

Most receipts are printed on heat-sensitive paper, so-called thermal paper, which contains the endocrine-disrupting substance bisphenol A. By touching thermal paper, you can be exposed to bisphenol A.

While pregnant, you can err on the side of your baby’s safety by following the advice listed here:

  • Limit your contact with receipts by turning them down if you don’t need them.
  • Wash your hands after handling receipts.
  • Make copies of receipts that double as proof of warranty instead of saving them.
  • Avoid letting your child play with receipts.

Bisphenol A in baby bottles

Bisphenol A has been banned from baby bottles and other materials used with food for children under age 3 since 2010.

This advice about biocides is from the general biocide guidelines of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, which you should also follow while pregnant:

Household poisons, in professional terms known as biocides, are designed to repel or kill precisely that organism you would like to eliminate. The substances can cause both allergies and rashes in humans, and they may be poisonous to flora and fauna.
In many ways, household poisons are useful and their use completely legal. For instance, they are a vital part of wood-protecting treatments that give wood in your house a longer lifespan. But a lot of these products are designed to kill, and it’s important to remember that when handling them in the home.

You will find biocides in many different products, such as in poisons to combat the most common pests, like mice, rats, cockroaches, mosquitos, moths, and ants. Biocides can also appear in hygiene products like hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Some products are treated with biocides before you buy them. For instance, furniture may be treated with biocides to prevent them from insect, mold, and fungal attacks during transport. The same is true for cleaning cloths, running shoes, track suits, and other types of products that we prefer to keep free of germs and/or smells and to avoid discoloration by preventing the growth of microorganisms.

Even if a biocide has been approved by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, you should still use it thoughtfully.

Brominated flame retardants are chemicals that inhibit ignition, particularly in plastics and furniture textiles. Today, several brominated flame retardants have been banned.

Some brominated flame retardants are on the EU list of potential endocrine disruptors. Nordic Swan helps you avoid them.

Brominated flame retardants are found in things like:

  • TV’s, PC’s, other electronics
  • Kitchen machines
  • Wires
  • Cars
  • Furniture
  • Building materials

Examples of brominated flame retardants:

  • TBBPA (tetrabromobisphenol A)
  • HBCDD (hexabromocyclododecane)
  • PBDE-group (polybrominated diphenyl ethers)
  • PBB (polybrominated biphenyls)

Minimize your exposure to brominated flame retardants:

Minimize your exposure to brominated flame retardants:

  • Do a thorough airing-out with cross-breezes twice a day for at least five minutes.
  • Clean once a week, where you vacuum and dust.

Fluorinated substances are used in every-day living because of their special chemical properties, such as the ability to repel both water and oils. The term covers a large group of substances, of which several are suspected carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

Where are they found?

  • Water- and dirt-repelling items, such as certain types of outerwear, rain gear, and vinyl tablecloths
  • Food containers, such as pizza boxes and bags for microwave popcorn
  • Impregnating agents
  • Lubricants
  • Paint
  • Carpets

Be careful with impregnating agents

Fluorinated substances are often found in impregnating agents, and spray cans atomize the chemicals, exposing you even more. Therefore, while you are pregnant you should avoid completely the use of impregnating agents in spray cans. Get others to help you, and always do it outside.

What you can do:

  • Choose products with the Swan ecolabel or the EU ecolabel, e.g. wax paper.
  • Make popcorn in a pot, rather than in the microwave.
  • Don’t keep leftover pizza in the pizza box inside the refrigerator.
  • Ventilate and clean. When you remove dust by vacuuming, you are also removing fluorinated substances and other chemicals that bind to the dust.

Heavy metals include a number of elements, such as quicksilver, cadmium, chromium, tin, and lead.

Heavy metals were in the past used for many different purposes, but today there is a ban against using heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and quicksilver in a vast array of products.

However, these substances may still exist in a few products where their use is still allowed. As an example, quicksilver is used in energy-saving lightbulbs and fluorescent light tubes.

Read more here about what you do when the energy-saving bulb breaks

 

Heavy metals are toxic

  • Lead is extremely toxic to humans, animals, and plants. It accumulates in the body and have known harmful effects, especially on the nervous system.
  • Cadmium is toxic, and in addition many cadmium compounds are carcinogenic.
  • Quicksilver is extremely toxic. Even at low doses, it is known to harm the central nervous system and kidneys. Organic quicksilver compounds can pass via the placenta from the mother to the fetus, and next via the bloodstream of the fetus to its brain. 

Limit your intake of heavy metals

  • Eat a variety of fish, such as flounder, herring, and farmed salmon, but avoid tuna steaks and other fresh cuts of the large predatory fish, such as tuna, sharks, and pikes. Large predatory fish can contain large amounts of quicksilver, which becomes concentrated up through the food chain. 
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables. Lead comes from air pollution and is also found in the ground due to pollution from the air.
  • Pregnant women and children under age 7 should avoid eating game meat from the area around the bullet hole, if lead-containing ammunition was used.
  • Sunflower seeds and flax seed have a high content of cadmium. The seeds should not be consumed in large quantities. Small amounts in things like bread is okay, and sunflower oil and flax oil do not constitute a risk.

Nickel is used in things like stainless steel and other metal products, but also in magnets, in coins, and as a green coloring agent in glass. Nickel also appears naturally in our food.

In Denmark, nickel is the most common cause for contact allergies. As many as 10% of all women and 1% of all men are allergic to nickel.

Because of this, there are limits for how much nickel may be released by products with longer-term skin contact. Pregnant women are at no greater risk of being allergic than anyone else.

Examples of products with limits for release of nickel:

  • Jewelry
  • Watches
  • Buckles
  • Cellphones
  • Zippers and rivets in clothing
  • Footwear

What you can do:

  • Avoid skin contact with products containing nickel if you show signs up a nickel allergy.
  • You may want to test your jewelry with a test kit from the pharmacy
  • If you get eczema after using products containing nickel, then stop using them.

 

Organic solvents are chemical compounds that can dissolve organic substances, e.g. fats, oils, and plastics. Among other things, they are used as cleaning agents and solvents in many everyday situations. Organic solvents are very easily absorbed into your body and may harm both you and your child – e.g. nervous system and brain development. “Painter’s brain” is due to, for instance, working with organic solvents long-term.

Even short-term use can cause fatigue, headaches, and skin damage, and longer-term exposure to certain organic solvents can cause cancer, liver damage, reduced fertility, and disruption of pregnancy.

The term covers a number of different substances, such as:

  • Gasoline, mineral turpentine, petroleum
  • Ethanol (regular rubbing alcohol), butanol, propanol
  • Acetone
  • Aromatic solvents, e.g. xylene and toluene

Here is where you can find organic solvents

  • Varnish
  • Paint products
  • Wax
  • Impregnating agents

What you can do

  • Avoid using paint, varnish, and glue containing organic solvents, while you are pregnant.
  • Always follow the instructions on the product, if you can’t avoid using it.

Parabens are a group of substances, such as propylparaben and butylparaben .

Parabens are used as preservatives in things like cosmetic products. They are added in order to prevent bacterial and fungal growth in the products. Certain parabens are on the EU list of substances suspected of being endocrine disruptors.

In rare cases, parabens can be cause for allergies.

If you want to be extra careful, then buy Nordic Swan-approved cosmetics in order to minimize your exposure to parabens.

Where are the substances found?

Parabens can be found in things like:

  • Creams
  • Sunscreen
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Makeup
  • Medications

Choose Swan-approved products to minimize your exposure to parabens. If you can’t find a Nordic Swan-approved variety, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency especially recommends that you avoid propyl paraben and butyl paraben. Especially in body lotion and sunscreen, where the exposure is greatest.

How to find parabens in cosmetic products.

Look at the content label for names ending in paraben, such as:

  • Butyl paraben
  • Propyl paraben

PCB is an environmental toxin that can harm humans and the environment. PCB is short for polychlorinated biphenyl, which covers 209 different substances.

PCBs were formerly used in building materials, where the PCBs imparted certain characteristics to the building material, such as elasticity, durable surfaces, or flame-retardant properties. PCBs were used in things like sealants and double glazing up until 1977 and in electrical products up until 1986.

Today, all uses of PCB are banned, but PCB is very durable and still exists in our environment, such is inside buildings from construction materials or in foods due to environmental pollution.

Fatty fish, such as salmon, from the Baltic Sea can contain PCB, as can meat, dairy products, and eggs.

Infants, as well as pregnant or nursing mothers are particularly vulnerable to PCB. For instance, children can receive PCB through breast milk, but the content of PCB in breast milk in Denmark is declining. From 1993 to 2004 it fell by 58%.

PCBs can be found, for example, in buildings from the years 1950–1977 in:

  • Sealants, especially in soft grouting
  • Putty products
  • Floor grouting and floor covering
  • Durable paint and concrete
  • Older double glazing
  • Cables
  • Capacitators for fluorescent tubes, etc.

Why is PCB toxic?

  • Long-term exposure to PCB can cause damage to the skin and fertility and has been associated with damage to the liver and the thyroid gland, as well as disruption of the nervous system, the immune system, and the endocrine system.
  • PCB is also thought to be carcinogenic.

What you can do:

  • Eat no more than 350 g of fish every week, and change between fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel, and lean fish, such as cod and flounder.
  • Eat no more than 125 g of salmon from the Baltic Sea every month – also while you are planning on getting pregnant, or while you are breastfeeding.
  • Ventilate thoroughly with cross-breezes at least twice a day for five minutes, and clean once a week, including vacuuming and dusting.

Certain perfumes can cause allergies, and when you are pregnant, it is a good idea to minimize your exposure to perfume.

Generally, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency recommends using as little perfume as possible. If you want to smell good, you can limit the number of perfumed products you use – e.g. you can buy unscented cream and deodorant, but then choose that your shampoo should smell good.

Pregnant women are at no greater risk for developing a skin allergy (contact allergy) than anyone else. Even so, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you limit your use of allergy-provoking substances, while you are pregnant. 

The EU has selected 26 perfumes that must be listed on the content label, but there are many other scent substances that can cause skin allergies.

If you are not allergic to a substance on the list, you receive no special protection by opting out of products with these substances in favor of other perfumes.

This advice about pesticides is from general advice regarding pesticides from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, and if you are pregnant, you should follow them as well:

Use pesticides thoughtfully

If you are combatting weeds, pests, or plant diseases in your garden, there are several ways for you to solve the problem. If you use pesticides, it will always place a strain on the environment and on health. The advice of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency is generally to avoid using pesticides in your garden, and if you still choose to do so, then use a product that strains health and the environment as little as possible. There are alternatives to the harshest products in the vast majority of areas – whether you are combatting weeds between your paving stones, lice on your roses, or moss in your lawn. That way you minimize the risk of unintentionally polluting the groundwater and damage to other plants or animals.

Even if a pesticide is approved by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, you still need to use it thoughtfully.

You can also see how to use pesticides safely and how to dispose of them in a responsible way.

Phthalates are a group of various substances, of which some are considered endocrine disruptors, while others are suspected of it. For other phthalates, there do not seem to be any ill effects. Phthalates have a softening effect and are primarily used to soften PVC plastics.

The Swan ecolabel and the EU ecolabel help you avoid the most dangerous phthalates in a number of product types, such as children’s clothing, footwear, and dialysis bags.

Minimize your and your child’s exposure to phthalates:

  • Buy the ecolabels
  • Ventilate and clean
  • Throw away old, soft plastic toys
  • Make sure your child’s toys are organic

Phthalates can be found in things like:

  • Vinyl flooring
  • Plastic tablecloths/placemats
  • Air mattresses
  • Hoses / garden hoses
  • Shoes
  • Wires/cables
  • Tarpaulins
  • Sealants
  • Sex toys
  • Toys for pets
  • Food storage, such as inside screw-on lids
  • In certain disposable gloves

Since the rays of the sun can damage skin and cause skin cancer in the long term,  it is important to enjoy the sun in moderation and remember to protect yourself. Pregnant women can have an increased tendency to tan in splotches – making it important to protect your skin in the sun – not only with sunscreen, but also by staying in the shade and wearing light summer clothing.

Several sun filters are on the EU list of substances thought to be endocrine disruptors. Therefore, while you are pregnant you may want to buy Nordic Swan-approved sunscreen. These products are not allowed to contain UV-filters from the EU list of substances suspected to be endocrine disruptors.

If you want to minimize your use of sunscreen, it is best to avoid sunbathing and protecting your skin with clothing, a sun hat, and shade. Don’t spend time in the sun without protection.

To be extra cautious, avoid certain sun filters

If you can’t find a Nordic Swan-approved variety, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency recommends avoiding the sun filters octyl methoxycinnamate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-benzylidene camphor, and benzophenone-3, as a matter of extra caution. It must say on the content label if the sunscreen contains one of these four sun filters.

Sun filters to avoid if you want to be extra cautious:

  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC)
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)
  • 3-benzylidene camphor (3-BC)
  • Benzophenone-3 (BP-3)

Triclosan is used as a preservative in cosmetic products (max. 0.3%). Antibacterial substances, including triclosan, can also be used in clothing to prevent odor problems. Triclosan is a suspected endocrine disruptor, and it must be listed on the content label if cosmetic products contain triclosan.

If you are pregnant, you may want to avoid triclosan in an abundance of caution.

Nordic Swan-approved clothing, textiles, and cosmetics are not allowed to contain triclosan.

Triclosan can be found in things like:

  • Sports apparel
  • Deodorant
  • Body soap
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Shoes

 

Where you find them

Avoid air fresheners. The perfumes in air fresheners can cause allergies if they touch the skin, and they are suspected to cause sensitivities and allergies when inhaled. Be particularly careful with aerosol air fresheners. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency generally recommends that pregnant women avoid spray products that aerosolize chemicals, posing a risk of inhaling the chemicals.

Candles are cozy, but while burning they emit tiny particles that may contain things like nickel, lead, and tar.

It is unclear how candles affect pregnant women, but the particles and a poor indoor environment may cause airway irritation and headaches. Always blow out soot-producing candles, i.e. ones with visible smoke.

Tealights emit fewer particles than traditional candles and square candles.

Opt for Swan-approved candles. They are not allowed to contain perfumes, and in addition they are regulated as to how much soot the candles may produce.

You may also want to avoid scented candles that contain perfumes.

Air out thoroughly after using candles in order to remove the particles emitted into the air.

Cellphones can emit nickel at low levels.

You may want to test your cellphone with a test kit from the pharmacy to see if it emits nickel.

Choose cellphone covers without phthalates. There can be phthalates in cellphone covers made from soft PVC.

Ask at the store if the cover contains phthalates.

Use ecolabel detergents for cleaning (such as Swan-approved or EU-labeled products). Ecolabels have requirements for certain substances in the product.

Avoid disinfectants and products with disinfecting substances, such as chlorine, as these may harm the environment. If you want to disinfect kitchen tools and cutting boards, then scald them in boiling water. If a product is labeled as “anti-bacterial”, “bacteriostatic”, or “mildew-resistant” it is an indication that it contains a disinfecting substance.

Avoid using spray products. Du may accidentally inhale the chemicals through the droplets suspended in the air. Ventilate thoroughly if others have used spray products.

Be especially careful not to mix cleaning products with chlorine or other products containing chlorine. This can create toxic fumes.­­­

Cleaning gloves / rubber gloves

Rubber gloves and disposable gloves can protect your skin against things like cleaning products, but it matters which kind of gloves you use.

Choose cleaning gloves without phthalates.

Ask at the store if the gloves contain phthalates.

Limit your use of creams and lotions while pregnant.

Choose organic cosmetic products. That way you avoid substances from the EU list of substances suspected of being endocrine disruptors, among other things.

If you can’t find an organic variety, you can try to avoid substances like butyl paraben and propyl parabens, to be extra careful. These substances are suspected endocrine disruptors. Also look for the preservative Methylisothiazolinone (MI), which can cause allergies. You can tell from the content label, whether the product contains the above-mentioned substances.

Choose creams without perfume, as perfume can cause allergies. Note that organic products often are allowed to contain perfume, so opt for an unscented product.

Limit your use of perfume and deodorant while pregnant. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency generally recommends that pregnant women avoid spray products, so there is no risk of breathing in the chemicals. Therefore, you should also avoid self-tanning products in spray cabins while pregnant.

Choose organic products. That way you avoid such substances as the ones on the EU list of substances suspected of being endocrine disruptors.
If you can’t find a organic product, you can try to avoid the substances butyl paraben, propyl paraben, and triclosan if you want to be especially cautious. These substances are all suspected endocrine disruptors. You can see on the content label, whether the product contains these substances. Look for the preservative Methylisothiazolinone (MI) as well, as it can cause allergies.

Choose deodorants without aluminum if you have broken skin, such as after shaving or other hair removal, or if you have eczema or anything similar.

Use organic diapers. There are requirements for which substances are allowed in Swan-approved diapers, and they cannot contain perfume and lotion. Alternatively, select diapers without perfume or lotion.

Care products for babies

Do not use cream, soap, and the like on your baby daily. Your baby doesn’t need it every day, except in very certain circumstances.

Use organic baby products. That way, you avoid perfumes and any substances from the EU list of substances that are suspected endocrine disruptors.

Wet wipes

It is preferable to use water and disposable sponge cloths to protect your baby from any unnecessary chemicals.

If you do opt to use wet wipes, make sure you buy Swan-approved wet wipes without perfume.

Electric devices, such as TV’s, computers, and game consoles can emit chemicals into the air, where they bind with dust. The chemicals are emitted especially while the devices are on. The emitted substances can be things like brominated flame retardants, which are used to fireproof the devices. Phthalates can also be emitted from the plastics the devices are made from.

Certain brominated flame retardants and certain phthalates are endocrine disruptors or suspected endocrine disruptors. Turn off electronics when not needed – especially while you sleep. That way you minimize the emission of substances indoors.

Do a thorough airing-out with cross-breezes – twice a day for at least five minutes. That way, some of the substances bound to the dust will disappear from the indoor climate.

Keep electronic devices free of dust. This reduces the emission of substances to the indoor environment.

Energy-saving lightbulbs contain small amounts of quicksilver. Quicksilver can damage the human nervous system already at the fetal stage. Children with nerve damage are at risk for things like learning disabilities and delayed development.

The quicksilver is only released if the energy-saving bulb breaks. Therefore, when pregnant you should leave the room and ask for help to air it out and clean it, if an energy-saving bulb breaks:

  • Open the window while cleaning
  • Do not use a broom or vacuum cleaner. Scrape it up with a piece of card stock and wipe down with a wet paper towel.
  • Place the remnants in an airtight container and bring it to a recycling station.
  • Continue airing out with a cross-breeze for 15 minutes. And do some extra airing out over the next few days.

If you want to avoid quicksilver altogether, you can choose to use LED bulbs. They don’t contain quicksilver.

Maintain good hygiene in the kitchen, so you don’t get sick from general bacteria in your food.

Be especially aware of two infections that constitute a particular risk for pregnant women, namely listeria bacteria and toxoplasma parasites.

Listeria monocytogenes bacteria

Pregnant women that become infected by listeria food bacteria risk miscarrying or giving birth early. Follow the four kitchen tips and avoid listeria:

  • Rinse, boil, and fry foods.
  • Throw away foods that are past the expiration date.
  • Keep the refrigerator temperature Hold at no more than 5 degrees Celsius.
  • Remember that food has shorter shelf-life once opened.

Listeria can become a problem when storing food with a long shelf-life at cold temperatures. Be especially vigilant with lunch meat, cold-smoked fish, gravlax, soft cheeses, and raw unpasteurized milk.

Toxoplasma parasite (toxoplasmosis / sandbox disease)

A toxoplasmosis infection while pregnant may cause eye or brain damage in the child. Minimize your risk of infection:

  • Wash your hands after touching raw meat and vegetables
  • Wash your hands after yardwork or touching soil
  • Eat your meat well-done or boiled.
  • Do not taste raw minced meat.
  • Avoid raw, unpasteurized milk.
  • Get someone else to empty the cat’s litterbox if you have a cat. Pregnant cat owners that follow this advice are at no greater risk of toxoplasmosis infection than pregnant women who don’t have a cat.

Furniture can contain a lot of different chemical substances that are emitted into air or dust. This is especially true for new furniture.

You may want to leave new furniture to “air out” somewhere you don’t access regularly. And you may want to wait with buying new furniture until your child has come safely into this world.

At the very least, ensure good ventilation, when you have new furniture in your home: This means airing the room out twice a day for at least five minutes.

Furniture may be impregnated to make it easier to clean. Some impregnating agents may contain fluoride-compounds, which are suspected endocrine disruptors. Ask for furniture that have not been impregnated or choose furniture with Nordic Swan approval.

Certain office supplies made from PVC (e.g. erasers and plastic folders) may contain phthalates suspected of being endocrine disruptors.

As much as possible, avoid furniture and office articles in leatherette. They can contain phthalates, which are suspected endocrine disruptors. Leatherette is often referred to as “faux leather”, “synthetic leather”, or “pleather” and among other things, it is used as a chair covering.

Ask at the store for office supplies and furniture free of phthalates.

Glue

Choose water-based glue if possible. That way you avoid organic solvents.
Avoid glue and other DIY-products with warning symbols.

Avoid other hobby products (e.g. gel pens, markers, acrylic paints)
with warning symbols. Choose FFFH’s A-marked hobby products when possible.

Buy ecolabel glue if possible. These have requirements as to which substances are allowed.

Varnish

Avoid using varnish while pregnant.

Varnish can have high content of organic solvents.

Make sure you ventilate thoroughly if others have used varnish.

Avoid DIY-products with warning symbols if possible. The danger symbol says how the product may be harmful for humans and the environment.

Buy ecolabel varnish. These have requirements as to which substances are allowed.

Paint and wood protection

Avoid using paint and wood protection while pregnant.

Both may have high contents of organic solvents and wood protection may contain anti-fungal products.

Make sure you ventilate thoroughly if others have used paint. Choose ecolabel paints. These have requirements as to which substances are allowed.

Avoid being in the presence of spray paint and other aerosolized products while pregnant. You may accidentally inhale the chemicals through suspended droplets in the air. Ventilate thoroughly if others have used spray products.

Grout

Avoid using grout while pregnant.  Grout can contain phthalates, some of which are suspected endocrine disruptors. Ask at the store about the content of phthalates.

Grout may also contain organic solvents, allergy-provoking substances and other substances that may be harmful to your health.

Make sure you ventilate thoroughly if others have used grout.

Avoid coloring your hair. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency recommends against pregnant women coloring their hair. This is due, among other things, to the fact that hair color can contain substances that can cause severe allergic reactions, even if you have never had a reaction before.

Pregnant women are at no greater risk of allergies than anyone else. Even so, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency advises against pregnant women using hair color, sin they don’t know if a severe allergic reaction may have an effect on the child in utero.

Many impregnating agents contain fluorinated compounds suspected to be endocrine disruptors. If you are pregnant and want to impregnate shoes or clothing, you should get others to help and remember to do it outside.

While pregnant, you should generally avoid the use of spray products, because you may accidentally inhale chemicals through suspended droplets in the air. Ventilate thoroughly, if someone still has used spray products inside.

Limit the use of sex creams, lubricants, and massage oil, as they may contain allergy-provoking substances.

Do not use oil-based creams with condoms – they can dissolve the rubber, exposing them to the substances contained in the rubber.

Choose sex toys without phthalates. Ask at the store about the content of phthalates, and preferably avoid soft PVC, which often contains phthalates. things like phthalates from the toys.

Since 2010, bisphenol A has been banned in food-contact products for children younger than age 3 (EU banned bisphenol A in baby bottles in 2011). Therefore, you shouldn’t hesitate to buy baby bottles in Danish stores. If you have plastic baby bottles or sippy cups from before July 2010, you should throw them away.

For hygiene reasons, you should scald pacifiers before using.

The mouth shield on pacifiers may be made from polycarbonate, which can emit small amounts of bisphenol A, but only in amounts that carry no risk. If you still want to avoid exposing your child to bisphenol A from pacifiers, then buy one without polycarbonate. If you can’t see what type of plastic a pacifier is made from, you may want to choose a different pacifier.

Choose vinyl tablecloths and placemats without soft PVC, as these may contain phthalates . Ask at the store.

You could choose textile products, but if the textile is water repellent, you will need to ask at the store if it contains fluorinated substances.

Store receipts can contain bisphenols, because most store receipts are printed on heat-sensitive paper, so-called thermal paper, that contains the endocrine-disrupting substance bisphenol A. By contact with thermal paper, you may be exposed to bisphenol A.

While pregnant, you can err on the side of your baby’s safety by following the advice below:

  • Limit your contact with receipts by turning them down if you don’t need them.
  • Wash your hands after handling receipts.
  • Make copies of receipts that double as proof of warranty instead of saving them.
  • Avoid letting your child play with receipts.

You may want to check your receipt by scratching the surface, e.g. with a coin. If it creates a black line, it is made from thermal paper and can contain bisphenol A.

Since the rays of the sun can damage skin and cause skin cancer in the long term,  it is important to enjoy the sun in moderation and remember to protect yourself. Pregnant women can have an increased tendency to tan in splotches – making it important to protect your skin in the sun – not only with sunscreen, but also by staying in the shade and wearing light summer clothing.

Several sun filters are on the EU list of substances thought to be endocrine disruptors. Therefore, while you are pregnant you may want to buy Nordic Swan-approved sunscreen. These products are not allowed to contain UV-filters from the EU list of substances suspected to be endocrine disruptors.

If you want to minimize your use of sunscreen, it is best to avoid sunbathing and protecting your skin with clothing, a sun hat, and shade. Don’t spend time in the sun without protection.

Out of an abundance of caution, avoid certain sun filters

If you can’t find a Nordic Swan-approved variety, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency recommends avoiding the sun filters octyl methoxycinnamate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-benzylidene camphor, and benzophenone-3, as a matter of extra caution. It must say on the content label if the sunscreen contains one of these four sun filters.

Look for the preservative triclosan on the content label of your toothpaste and avoid it if you want to be extra cautious, since this substance is suspected of being an endocrine disruptor.

Choose organic toys without perfume. In organic toys there are requirements for the content of chemical substances. This applies also to perfumes that may be allergy-provoking.

Wash toys made of fabric and plastics in hot water before use (follow washing instructions). That way, you can wash out some of the chemical substances before your child uses the toy.

Throw out old, soft plastic toys made from PVC, as they may contain phthalates, which are now banned. Some phthalates are suspected endocrine disruptors.

Do not give pet toys to small children (phthalates are banned in toys for children, but not in toys for animals).

Chemicals

Hormones control a lot of what happens in our bodies, and they help control how the child develops in your stomach.

The endocrine system can be affected by external factors, such as stress and chemicals. Certain chemicals can harm fetal development, because they have the same effect as the natural hormones in your body. Other substances block the effect of the natural hormones in your body or change their function. As a whole, these substances are called endocrine disruptors.

Several chemicals from food, the indoor climate, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, etc. have proven to disrupt the endocrine system in animals and are now suspected to do the same in humans.

What it means for your child

The endocrine disruptors can affect a great many processes in our bodies – especially if we are exposed in utero. The substances are believed to impact our ability to have children, and they cause malformed genitalia, especially in boys. Furthermore, the substances are suspected to potentially accelerate puberty in girls and to be carcinogenic.

Some bisphenols are suspected endocrine disruptors. E.g. bisphenol A is on the EU list of potential endocrine disruptors. It is not allowed in materials that come into contact with foods to children under age 3, but it is found in things like store receipts, in the plastic material polycarbonate, and in many canned products, such as in varnish on the inside to prevent the can rusting from within.

There are still divided opinions as to the amounts it takes for the substance to have a harmful effect in humans. Certain animal studies indicate that bisphenol A is harmful in very low concentrations – also called low-dose effects. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency is following developments in this area closely.

Replacing bisphenol A in all uses is not easy, however, as our knowledge of alternatives doesn’t readily indicate that a better replacement substance exists.

Bisphenol A in store receipts

Most receipts are printed on heat-sensitive paper, so-called thermal paper, which contains the endocrine-disrupting substance bisphenol A. By touching thermal paper, you can be exposed to bisphenol A.

While pregnant, you can err on the side of your baby’s safety by following the advice listed here:

  • Limit your contact with receipts by turning them down if you don’t need them.
  • Wash your hands after handling receipts.
  • Make copies of receipts that double as proof of warranty instead of saving them.
  • Avoid letting your child play with receipts.

Bisphenol A in baby bottles

Bisphenol A has been banned from baby bottles and other materials used with food for children under age 3 since 2010.

This advice about biocides is from the general biocide guidelines of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, which you should also follow while pregnant:

Household poisons, in professional terms known as biocides, are designed to repel or kill precisely that organism you would like to eliminate. The substances can cause both allergies and rashes in humans, and they may be poisonous to flora and fauna.
In many ways, household poisons are useful and their use completely legal. For instance, they are a vital part of wood-protecting treatments that give wood in your house a longer lifespan. But a lot of these products are designed to kill, and it’s important to remember that when handling them in the home.

You will find biocides in many different products, such as in poisons to combat the most common pests, like mice, rats, cockroaches, mosquitos, moths, and ants. Biocides can also appear in hygiene products like hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Some products are treated with biocides before you buy them. For instance, furniture may be treated with biocides to prevent them from insect, mold, and fungal attacks during transport. The same is true for cleaning cloths, running shoes, track suits, and other types of products that we prefer to keep free of germs and/or smells and to avoid discoloration by preventing the growth of microorganisms.

Even if a biocide has been approved by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, you should still use it thoughtfully.

Brominated flame retardants are chemicals that inhibit ignition, particularly in plastics and furniture textiles. Today, several brominated flame retardants have been banned.

Some brominated flame retardants are on the EU list of potential endocrine disruptors. Nordic Swan helps you avoid them.

Brominated flame retardants are found in things like:

  • TV’s, PC’s, other electronics
  • Kitchen machines
  • Wires
  • Cars
  • Furniture
  • Building materials

Examples of brominated flame retardants:

  • TBBPA (tetrabromobisphenol A)
  • HBCDD (hexabromocyclododecane)
  • PBDE-group (polybrominated diphenyl ethers)
  • PBB (polybrominated biphenyls)

Minimize your exposure to brominated flame retardants:

Minimize your exposure to brominated flame retardants:

  • Do a thorough airing-out with cross-breezes twice a day for at least five minutes.
  • Clean once a week, where you vacuum and dust.

Fluorinated substances are used in every-day living because of their special chemical properties, such as the ability to repel both water and oils. The term covers a large group of substances, of which several are suspected carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

Where are they found?

  • Water- and dirt-repelling items, such as certain types of outerwear, rain gear, and vinyl tablecloths
  • Food containers, such as pizza boxes and bags for microwave popcorn
  • Impregnating agents
  • Lubricants
  • Paint
  • Carpets

Be careful with impregnating agents

Fluorinated substances are often found in impregnating agents, and spray cans atomize the chemicals, exposing you even more. Therefore, while you are pregnant you should avoid completely the use of impregnating agents in spray cans. Get others to help you, and always do it outside.

What you can do:

  • Choose products with the Swan ecolabel or the EU ecolabel, e.g. wax paper.
  • Make popcorn in a pot, rather than in the microwave.
  • Don’t keep leftover pizza in the pizza box inside the refrigerator.
  • Ventilate and clean. When you remove dust by vacuuming, you are also removing fluorinated substances and other chemicals that bind to the dust.

Heavy metals include a number of elements, such as quicksilver, cadmium, chromium, tin, and lead.

Heavy metals were in the past used for many different purposes, but today there is a ban against using heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and quicksilver in a vast array of products.

However, these substances may still exist in a few products where their use is still allowed. As an example, quicksilver is used in energy-saving lightbulbs and fluorescent light tubes.

Read more here about what you do when the energy-saving bulb breaks

 

Heavy metals are toxic

  • Lead is extremely toxic to humans, animals, and plants. It accumulates in the body and have known harmful effects, especially on the nervous system.
  • Cadmium is toxic, and in addition many cadmium compounds are carcinogenic.
  • Quicksilver is extremely toxic. Even at low doses, it is known to harm the central nervous system and kidneys. Organic quicksilver compounds can pass via the placenta from the mother to the fetus, and next via the bloodstream of the fetus to its brain. 

Limit your intake of heavy metals

  • Eat a variety of fish, such as flounder, herring, and farmed salmon, but avoid tuna steaks and other fresh cuts of the large predatory fish, such as tuna, sharks, and pikes. Large predatory fish can contain large amounts of quicksilver, which becomes concentrated up through the food chain. 
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables. Lead comes from air pollution and is also found in the ground due to pollution from the air.
  • Pregnant women and children under age 7 should avoid eating game meat from the area around the bullet hole, if lead-containing ammunition was used.
  • Sunflower seeds and flax seed have a high content of cadmium. The seeds should not be consumed in large quantities. Small amounts in things like bread is okay, and sunflower oil and flax oil do not constitute a risk.

Nickel is used in things like stainless steel and other metal products, but also in magnets, in coins, and as a green coloring agent in glass. Nickel also appears naturally in our food.

In Denmark, nickel is the most common cause for contact allergies. As many as 10% of all women and 1% of all men are allergic to nickel.

Because of this, there are limits for how much nickel may be released by products with longer-term skin contact. Pregnant women are at no greater risk of being allergic than anyone else.

Examples of products with limits for release of nickel:

  • Jewelry
  • Watches
  • Buckles
  • Cellphones
  • Zippers and rivets in clothing
  • Footwear

What you can do:

  • Avoid skin contact with products containing nickel if you show signs up a nickel allergy.
  • You may want to test your jewelry with a test kit from the pharmacy
  • If you get eczema after using products containing nickel, then stop using them.

 

Organic solvents are chemical compounds that can dissolve organic substances, e.g. fats, oils, and plastics. Among other things, they are used as cleaning agents and solvents in many everyday situations. Organic solvents are very easily absorbed into your body and may harm both you and your child – e.g. nervous system and brain development. “Painter’s brain” is due to, for instance, working with organic solvents long-term.

Even short-term use can cause fatigue, headaches, and skin damage, and longer-term exposure to certain organic solvents can cause cancer, liver damage, reduced fertility, and disruption of pregnancy.

The term covers a number of different substances, such as:

  • Gasoline, mineral turpentine, petroleum
  • Ethanol (regular rubbing alcohol), butanol, propanol
  • Acetone
  • Aromatic solvents, e.g. xylene and toluene

Here is where you can find organic solvents

  • Varnish
  • Paint products
  • Wax
  • Impregnating agents

What you can do

  • Avoid using paint, varnish, and glue containing organic solvents, while you are pregnant.
  • Always follow the instructions on the product, if you can’t avoid using it.

Parabens are a group of substances, such as propylparaben and butylparaben .

Parabens are used as preservatives in things like cosmetic products. They are added in order to prevent bacterial and fungal growth in the products. Certain parabens are on the EU list of substances suspected of being endocrine disruptors.

In rare cases, parabens can be cause for allergies.

If you want to be extra careful, then buy Nordic Swan-approved cosmetics in order to minimize your exposure to parabens.

Where are the substances found?

Parabens can be found in things like:

  • Creams
  • Sunscreen
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Makeup
  • Medications

Choose Swan-approved products to minimize your exposure to parabens. If you can’t find a Nordic Swan-approved variety, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency especially recommends that you avoid propyl paraben and butyl paraben. Especially in body lotion and sunscreen, where the exposure is greatest.

How to find parabens in cosmetic products.

Look at the content label for names ending in paraben, such as:

  • Butyl paraben
  • Propyl paraben

PCB is an environmental toxin that can harm humans and the environment. PCB is short for polychlorinated biphenyl, which covers 209 different substances.

PCBs were formerly used in building materials, where the PCBs imparted certain characteristics to the building material, such as elasticity, durable surfaces, or flame-retardant properties. PCBs were used in things like sealants and double glazing up until 1977 and in electrical products up until 1986.

Today, all uses of PCB are banned, but PCB is very durable and still exists in our environment, such is inside buildings from construction materials or in foods due to environmental pollution.

Fatty fish, such as salmon, from the Baltic Sea can contain PCB, as can meat, dairy products, and eggs.

Infants, as well as pregnant or nursing mothers are particularly vulnerable to PCB. For instance, children can receive PCB through breast milk, but the content of PCB in breast milk in Denmark is declining. From 1993 to 2004 it fell by 58%.

PCBs can be found, for example, in buildings from the years 1950–1977 in:

  • Sealants, especially in soft grouting
  • Putty products
  • Floor grouting and floor covering
  • Durable paint and concrete
  • Older double glazing
  • Cables
  • Capacitators for fluorescent tubes, etc.

Why is PCB toxic?

  • Long-term exposure to PCB can cause damage to the skin and fertility and has been associated with damage to the liver and the thyroid gland, as well as disruption of the nervous system, the immune system, and the endocrine system.
  • PCB is also thought to be carcinogenic.

What you can do:

  • Eat no more than 350 g of fish every week, and change between fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel, and lean fish, such as cod and flounder.
  • Eat no more than 125 g of salmon from the Baltic Sea every month – also while you are planning on getting pregnant, or while you are breastfeeding.
  • Ventilate thoroughly with cross-breezes at least twice a day for five minutes, and clean once a week, including vacuuming and dusting.

Certain perfumes can cause allergies, and when you are pregnant, it is a good idea to minimize your exposure to perfume.

Generally, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency recommends using as little perfume as possible. If you want to smell good, you can limit the number of perfumed products you use – e.g. you can buy unscented cream and deodorant, but then choose that your shampoo should smell good.

Pregnant women are at no greater risk for developing a skin allergy (contact allergy) than anyone else. Even so, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you limit your use of allergy-provoking substances, while you are pregnant. 

The EU has selected 26 perfumes that must be listed on the content label, but there are many other scent substances that can cause skin allergies.

If you are not allergic to a substance on the list, you receive no special protection by opting out of products with these substances in favor of other perfumes.

This advice about pesticides is from general advice regarding pesticides from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, and if you are pregnant, you should follow them as well:

Use pesticides thoughtfully

If you are combatting weeds, pests, or plant diseases in your garden, there are several ways for you to solve the problem. If you use pesticides, it will always place a strain on the environment and on health. The advice of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency is generally to avoid using pesticides in your garden, and if you still choose to do so, then use a product that strains health and the environment as little as possible. There are alternatives to the harshest products in the vast majority of areas – whether you are combatting weeds between your paving stones, lice on your roses, or moss in your lawn. That way you minimize the risk of unintentionally polluting the groundwater and damage to other plants or animals.

Even if a pesticide is approved by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, you still need to use it thoughtfully.

You can also see how to use pesticides safely and how to dispose of them in a responsible way.

Phthalates are a group of various substances, of which some are considered endocrine disruptors, while others are suspected of it. For other phthalates, there do not seem to be any ill effects. Phthalates have a softening effect and are primarily used to soften PVC plastics.

The Swan ecolabel and the EU ecolabel help you avoid the most dangerous phthalates in a number of product types, such as children’s clothing, footwear, and dialysis bags.

Minimize your and your child’s exposure to phthalates:

  • Buy the ecolabels
  • Ventilate and clean
  • Throw away old, soft plastic toys
  • Make sure your child’s toys are organic

Phthalates can be found in things like:

  • Vinyl flooring
  • Plastic tablecloths/placemats
  • Air mattresses
  • Hoses / garden hoses
  • Shoes
  • Wires/cables
  • Tarpaulins
  • Sealants
  • Sex toys
  • Toys for pets
  • Food storage, such as inside screw-on lids
  • In certain disposable gloves

Since the rays of the sun can damage skin and cause skin cancer in the long term,  it is important to enjoy the sun in moderation and remember to protect yourself. Pregnant women can have an increased tendency to tan in splotches – making it important to protect your skin in the sun – not only with sunscreen, but also by staying in the shade and wearing light summer clothing.

Several sun filters are on the EU list of substances thought to be endocrine disruptors. Therefore, while you are pregnant you may want to buy Nordic Swan-approved sunscreen. These products are not allowed to contain UV-filters from the EU list of substances suspected to be endocrine disruptors.

If you want to minimize your use of sunscreen, it is best to avoid sunbathing and protecting your skin with clothing, a sun hat, and shade. Don’t spend time in the sun without protection.

To be extra cautious, avoid certain sun filters

If you can’t find a Nordic Swan-approved variety, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency recommends avoiding the sun filters octyl methoxycinnamate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-benzylidene camphor, and benzophenone-3, as a matter of extra caution. It must say on the content label if the sunscreen contains one of these four sun filters.

Sun filters to avoid if you want to be extra cautious:

  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC)
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)
  • 3-benzylidene camphor (3-BC)
  • Benzophenone-3 (BP-3)

Triclosan is used as a preservative in cosmetic products (max. 0.3%). Antibacterial substances, including triclosan, can also be used in clothing to prevent odor problems. Triclosan is a suspected endocrine disruptor, and it must be listed on the content label if cosmetic products contain triclosan.

If you are pregnant, you may want to avoid triclosan in an abundance of caution.

Nordic Swan-approved clothing, textiles, and cosmetics are not allowed to contain triclosan.

Triclosan can be found in things like:

  • Sports apparel
  • Deodorant
  • Body soap
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Shoes

 

Where you find them

Avoid air fresheners. The perfumes in air fresheners can cause allergies if they touch the skin, and they are suspected to cause sensitivities and allergies when inhaled. Be particularly careful with aerosol air fresheners. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency generally recommends that pregnant women avoid spray products that aerosolize chemicals, posing a risk of inhaling the chemicals.

Candles are cozy, but while burning they emit tiny particles that may contain things like nickel, lead, and tar.

It is unclear how candles affect pregnant women, but the particles and a poor indoor environment may cause airway irritation and headaches. Always blow out soot-producing candles, i.e. ones with visible smoke.

Tealights emit fewer particles than traditional candles and square candles.

Opt for Swan-approved candles. They are not allowed to contain perfumes, and in addition they are regulated as to how much soot the candles may produce.

You may also want to avoid scented candles that contain perfumes.

Air out thoroughly after using candles in order to remove the particles emitted into the air.

Cellphones can emit nickel at low levels.

You may want to test your cellphone with a test kit from the pharmacy to see if it emits nickel.

Choose cellphone covers without phthalates. There can be phthalates in cellphone covers made from soft PVC.

Ask at the store if the cover contains phthalates.

Use ecolabel detergents for cleaning (such as Swan-approved or EU-labeled products). Ecolabels have requirements for certain substances in the product.

Avoid disinfectants and products with disinfecting substances, such as chlorine, as these may harm the environment. If you want to disinfect kitchen tools and cutting boards, then scald them in boiling water. If a product is labeled as “anti-bacterial”, “bacteriostatic”, or “mildew-resistant” it is an indication that it contains a disinfecting substance.

Avoid using spray products. Du may accidentally inhale the chemicals through the droplets suspended in the air. Ventilate thoroughly if others have used spray products.

Be especially careful not to mix cleaning products with chlorine or other products containing chlorine. This can create toxic fumes.­­­

Cleaning gloves / rubber gloves

Rubber gloves and disposable gloves can protect your skin against things like cleaning products, but it matters which kind of gloves you use.

Choose cleaning gloves without phthalates.

Ask at the store if the gloves contain phthalates.

Limit your use of creams and lotions while pregnant.

Choose organic cosmetic products. That way you avoid substances from the EU list of substances suspected of being endocrine disruptors, among other things.

If you can’t find an organic variety, you can try to avoid substances like butyl paraben and propyl parabens, to be extra careful. These substances are suspected endocrine disruptors. Also look for the preservative Methylisothiazolinone (MI), which can cause allergies. You can tell from the content label, whether the product contains the above-mentioned substances.

Choose creams without perfume, as perfume can cause allergies. Note that organic products often are allowed to contain perfume, so opt for an unscented product.

Limit your use of perfume and deodorant while pregnant. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency generally recommends that pregnant women avoid spray products, so there is no risk of breathing in the chemicals. Therefore, you should also avoid self-tanning products in spray cabins while pregnant.

Choose organic products. That way you avoid such substances as the ones on the EU list of substances suspected of being endocrine disruptors.
If you can’t find a organic product, you can try to avoid the substances butyl paraben, propyl paraben, and triclosan if you want to be especially cautious. These substances are all suspected endocrine disruptors. You can see on the content label, whether the product contains these substances. Look for the preservative Methylisothiazolinone (MI) as well, as it can cause allergies.

Choose deodorants without aluminum if you have broken skin, such as after shaving or other hair removal, or if you have eczema or anything similar.

Use organic diapers. There are requirements for which substances are allowed in Swan-approved diapers, and they cannot contain perfume and lotion. Alternatively, select diapers without perfume or lotion.

Care products for babies

Do not use cream, soap, and the like on your baby daily. Your baby doesn’t need it every day, except in very certain circumstances.

Use organic baby products. That way, you avoid perfumes and any substances from the EU list of substances that are suspected endocrine disruptors.

Wet wipes

It is preferable to use water and disposable sponge cloths to protect your baby from any unnecessary chemicals.

If you do opt to use wet wipes, make sure you buy Swan-approved wet wipes without perfume.

Electric devices, such as TV’s, computers, and game consoles can emit chemicals into the air, where they bind with dust. The chemicals are emitted especially while the devices are on. The emitted substances can be things like brominated flame retardants, which are used to fireproof the devices. Phthalates can also be emitted from the plastics the devices are made from.

Certain brominated flame retardants and certain phthalates are endocrine disruptors or suspected endocrine disruptors. Turn off electronics when not needed – especially while you sleep. That way you minimize the emission of substances indoors.

Do a thorough airing-out with cross-breezes – twice a day for at least five minutes. That way, some of the substances bound to the dust will disappear from the indoor climate.

Keep electronic devices free of dust. This reduces the emission of substances to the indoor environment.

Energy-saving lightbulbs contain small amounts of quicksilver. Quicksilver can damage the human nervous system already at the fetal stage. Children with nerve damage are at risk for things like learning disabilities and delayed development.

The quicksilver is only released if the energy-saving bulb breaks. Therefore, when pregnant you should leave the room and ask for help to air it out and clean it, if an energy-saving bulb breaks:

  • Open the window while cleaning
  • Do not use a broom or vacuum cleaner. Scrape it up with a piece of card stock and wipe down with a wet paper towel.
  • Place the remnants in an airtight container and bring it to a recycling station.
  • Continue airing out with a cross-breeze for 15 minutes. And do some extra airing out over the next few days.

If you want to avoid quicksilver altogether, you can choose to use LED bulbs. They don’t contain quicksilver.

Maintain good hygiene in the kitchen, so you don’t get sick from general bacteria in your food.

Be especially aware of two infections that constitute a particular risk for pregnant women, namely listeria bacteria and toxoplasma parasites.

Listeria monocytogenes bacteria

Pregnant women that become infected by listeria food bacteria risk miscarrying or giving birth early. Follow the four kitchen tips and avoid listeria:

  • Rinse, boil, and fry foods.
  • Throw away foods that are past the expiration date.
  • Keep the refrigerator temperature Hold at no more than 5 degrees Celsius.
  • Remember that food has shorter shelf-life once opened.

Listeria can become a problem when storing food with a long shelf-life at cold temperatures. Be especially vigilant with lunch meat, cold-smoked fish, gravlax, soft cheeses, and raw unpasteurized milk.

Toxoplasma parasite (toxoplasmosis / sandbox disease)

A toxoplasmosis infection while pregnant may cause eye or brain damage in the child. Minimize your risk of infection:

  • Wash your hands after touching raw meat and vegetables
  • Wash your hands after yardwork or touching soil
  • Eat your meat well-done or boiled.
  • Do not taste raw minced meat.
  • Avoid raw, unpasteurized milk.
  • Get someone else to empty the cat’s litterbox if you have a cat. Pregnant cat owners that follow this advice are at no greater risk of toxoplasmosis infection than pregnant women who don’t have a cat.

Furniture can contain a lot of different chemical substances that are emitted into air or dust. This is especially true for new furniture.

You may want to leave new furniture to “air out” somewhere you don’t access regularly. And you may want to wait with buying new furniture until your child has come safely into this world.

At the very least, ensure good ventilation, when you have new furniture in your home: This means airing the room out twice a day for at least five minutes.

Furniture may be impregnated to make it easier to clean. Some impregnating agents may contain fluoride-compounds, which are suspected endocrine disruptors. Ask for furniture that have not been impregnated or choose furniture with Nordic Swan approval.

Certain office supplies made from PVC (e.g. erasers and plastic folders) may contain phthalates suspected of being endocrine disruptors.

As much as possible, avoid furniture and office articles in leatherette. They can contain phthalates, which are suspected endocrine disruptors. Leatherette is often referred to as “faux leather”, “synthetic leather”, or “pleather” and among other things, it is used as a chair covering.

Ask at the store for office supplies and furniture free of phthalates.

Glue

Choose water-based glue if possible. That way you avoid organic solvents.
Avoid glue and other DIY-products with warning symbols.

Avoid other hobby products (e.g. gel pens, markers, acrylic paints)
with warning symbols. Choose FFFH’s A-marked hobby products when possible.

Buy ecolabel glue if possible. These have requirements as to which substances are allowed.

Varnish

Avoid using varnish while pregnant.

Varnish can have high content of organic solvents.

Make sure you ventilate thoroughly if others have used varnish.

Avoid DIY-products with warning symbols if possible. The danger symbol says how the product may be harmful for humans and the environment.

Buy ecolabel varnish. These have requirements as to which substances are allowed.

Paint and wood protection

Avoid using paint and wood protection while pregnant.

Both may have high contents of organic solvents and wood protection may contain anti-fungal products.

Make sure you ventilate thoroughly if others have used paint. Choose ecolabel paints. These have requirements as to which substances are allowed.

Avoid being in the presence of spray paint and other aerosolized products while pregnant. You may accidentally inhale the chemicals through suspended droplets in the air. Ventilate thoroughly if others have used spray products.

Grout

Avoid using grout while pregnant.  Grout can contain phthalates, some of which are suspected endocrine disruptors. Ask at the store about the content of phthalates.

Grout may also contain organic solvents, allergy-provoking substances and other substances that may be harmful to your health.

Make sure you ventilate thoroughly if others have used grout.

Avoid coloring your hair. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency recommends against pregnant women coloring their hair. This is due, among other things, to the fact that hair color can contain substances that can cause severe allergic reactions, even if you have never had a reaction before.

Pregnant women are at no greater risk of allergies than anyone else. Even so, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency advises against pregnant women using hair color, sin they don’t know if a severe allergic reaction may have an effect on the child in utero.

Many impregnating agents contain fluorinated compounds suspected to be endocrine disruptors. If you are pregnant and want to impregnate shoes or clothing, you should get others to help and remember to do it outside.

While pregnant, you should generally avoid the use of spray products, because you may accidentally inhale chemicals through suspended droplets in the air. Ventilate thoroughly, if someone still has used spray products inside.

Limit the use of sex creams, lubricants, and massage oil, as they may contain allergy-provoking substances.

Do not use oil-based creams with condoms – they can dissolve the rubber, exposing them to the substances contained in the rubber.

Choose sex toys without phthalates. Ask at the store about the content of phthalates, and preferably avoid soft PVC, which often contains phthalates. things like phthalates from the toys.

Since 2010, bisphenol A has been banned in food-contact products for children younger than age 3 (EU banned bisphenol A in baby bottles in 2011). Therefore, you shouldn’t hesitate to buy baby bottles in Danish stores. If you have plastic baby bottles or sippy cups from before July 2010, you should throw them away.

For hygiene reasons, you should scald pacifiers before using.

The mouth shield on pacifiers may be made from polycarbonate, which can emit small amounts of bisphenol A, but only in amounts that carry no risk. If you still want to avoid exposing your child to bisphenol A from pacifiers, then buy one without polycarbonate. If you can’t see what type of plastic a pacifier is made from, you may want to choose a different pacifier.

Choose vinyl tablecloths and placemats without soft PVC, as these may contain phthalates . Ask at the store.

You could choose textile products, but if the textile is water repellent, you will need to ask at the store if it contains fluorinated substances.

Store receipts can contain bisphenols, because most store receipts are printed on heat-sensitive paper, so-called thermal paper, that contains the endocrine-disrupting substance bisphenol A. By contact with thermal paper, you may be exposed to bisphenol A.

While pregnant, you can err on the side of your baby’s safety by following the advice below:

  • Limit your contact with receipts by turning them down if you don’t need them.
  • Wash your hands after handling receipts.
  • Make copies of receipts that double as proof of warranty instead of saving them.
  • Avoid letting your child play with receipts.

You may want to check your receipt by scratching the surface, e.g. with a coin. If it creates a black line, it is made from thermal paper and can contain bisphenol A.

Since the rays of the sun can damage skin and cause skin cancer in the long term,  it is important to enjoy the sun in moderation and remember to protect yourself. Pregnant women can have an increased tendency to tan in splotches – making it important to protect your skin in the sun – not only with sunscreen, but also by staying in the shade and wearing light summer clothing.

Several sun filters are on the EU list of substances thought to be endocrine disruptors. Therefore, while you are pregnant you may want to buy Nordic Swan-approved sunscreen. These products are not allowed to contain UV-filters from the EU list of substances suspected to be endocrine disruptors.

If you want to minimize your use of sunscreen, it is best to avoid sunbathing and protecting your skin with clothing, a sun hat, and shade. Don’t spend time in the sun without protection.

Out of an abundance of caution, avoid certain sun filters

If you can’t find a Nordic Swan-approved variety, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency recommends avoiding the sun filters octyl methoxycinnamate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-benzylidene camphor, and benzophenone-3, as a matter of extra caution. It must say on the content label if the sunscreen contains one of these four sun filters.

Look for the preservative triclosan on the content label of your toothpaste and avoid it if you want to be extra cautious, since this substance is suspected of being an endocrine disruptor.

Choose organic toys without perfume. In organic toys there are requirements for the content of chemical substances. This applies also to perfumes that may be allergy-provoking.

Wash toys made of fabric and plastics in hot water before use (follow washing instructions). That way, you can wash out some of the chemical substances before your child uses the toy.

Throw out old, soft plastic toys made from PVC, as they may contain phthalates, which are now banned. Some phthalates are suspected endocrine disruptors.

Do not give pet toys to small children (phthalates are banned in toys for children, but not in toys for animals).

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