Letters to the Editor

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TOXINS: Stop childhood exposure to toxic chemicals

Letter by Diana Stadden, Tacoma on Feb. 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm with 25 Comments »
February 24, 2012 4:09 pm

As the mother of a child with autism, I am very concerned about toxic chemicals in my home. It is especially concerning that many harmful chemicals can legally be used in things kids use every day – toys, car seats, breast-feeding pillows.

The latest concern are toxic Tris flame retardants. One of these chemicals was even voluntarily removed from kids’ pajamas in the 1970s because of health concerns. But it’s back today in foam products for kids.

Although there is no one known cause for autism, it has linked to environmental toxins. These chemicals are also linked to cancer and developmental disabilities and have no business being in products for kids. There are safer and more effective ways to protect kids from fire than to expose them to toxic chemicals.

Getting rid of harmful chemicals that can hurt children should be a top priority of the Legislature. As a mom and as an advocate with The Arc of Washington State, I urge the Lgislature to pass the Toxic-Free Kids Act (SSB 6120) to eliminate one source of toxic chemicals from our homes.

Leave a comment Comments → 25
  1. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Give me a break. Exposure to socialist teachers is much more harmful and toxic than toys and breast feeding pillows.

    Where is the senate bill to eliminate the teachers union. The unions are a proven and well know carcinogenic infecting the minds of our children.

  2. cclngthr says:

    Autism has no known cause, but recent research shows it is evident with much younger children, and using special MRI scans, finding how the brain is wired is evident in kids as early as 6 months of age. My suspicions is autism is something a person is born with and not something that is caught after birth.

  3. SandHills says:

    ccingthr, then again, no one truly knows with all the stuff that surrounds us daily and we put in our bodies, what effect that may have in any possible genetic mutations we may be experiencing over and above our grandparents.

    Maybe when a certain DNA makeup of someone’s sperm meets the egg, some of those toxins have already done its damage.

    But the idea that all toxins can be banned is another namely-pamby Pollyannaism world. I suspect even walking through Walmart one picks up a certain number of minute amounts from all those goods from China – who really knows the picture of accumulation (kinda like being exposed to radiation) to all that surrounds us in our modern world?

    Whether it is more toxins in our environment, or simply there is a growing human population where any problem like autism is also a growth industry, who knows. Once one toxin is identified and regulated, I would bet another one would come forward as a new one to be concerned with.

  4. Sandhills has an excellent point. One truly does not know the levels of yet to be determined hazardous materials we are exposed to every day. Maybe a Viagra user might produce pumpkin headed spawn. Better still, maybe all those chemicals in those energy drinks that are so popular will generate better concentration. Either way, sometimes ignorance is bliss.

  5. cclngthr says:

    What I’m saying is there is little known what causes autism, which Diana tries to link autism to toxins. However in my own research and training of that neurotypical disorder, which ranges from high functioning/aspergers to more severe including non-verbal attributes of autism is not known in what actually causes it. I have seen several families over the years who have more than one child with Autism Spectrum Disorders. It appears that it can be genetic, but with 1 in 110 children having ASD, trying to link toxins as a true cause of autism isn’t actually true.

    Recent studies do show autism as early as 6 months of age with the MRI scans; but even with that scan, not much is known on its true cause. The study does lead to the disorder being present at or before birth, which eliminates its causes from exposure to toxins after birth. Having more than one child with ASD also leads to a possible genetic link.

  6. cclngthr says:

    Asbestos is said to cause cancer. However if it is left untouched, it poses no threat. Same thing as lead. Lead based paints (although illegal now) don’t pose a threat unless it is disturbed. Covering the lead based paint with a non-lead based paint can prevent further disturbances to it. Removing both substances requires special training and proceedures.

    The flame retardant Diana speaks of as well as PBDE also is in meat products at trace levels, is in insulation, furniture and many other products. It however is on its way out of use in many parts of the world, including Europe and Asia.

    There is a fire retardant insulation called Safe&Sound insulation or Roxul insulation. It has no toxins and is made non-toxic CFC free substances.

  7. itwasntmethistime says:

    I think it’s toxins. Keep it simple, folks. Why do you need a special pillow to breast feed? Our mother and grandmothers fed us without special pillows. They also fed us food they cooked from scratch instead of processed crap from a box. Are you really too busy to cook healthy food for your kids, or do you just like your television too much?

  8. Don’t worry. Everything is becoming Roundup ready!!!

  9. itwasntme? You bring up an interesting point. Certainly the garbage we ingest and are soaked in in our environment does impact our health. Look at China. After they have been heavily industrialized, all sorts of cancers and diseases have surfaced that were not there before 1980 in the massive scale they are now. As for autism, I have to agree with cclng. It appears genetic, but I am willing to concede that possible high exposure in the womb to toxins can play a part.

  10. blakeshouse says:

    Listening to these nanny state supporters you wouldn’t think ANYONE would be left alive today. It is next to impossible to see how there is any human race without the control of the state holding sway over every aspect of our lives..I guess I am very lucky to be breathing at all, having grown up in the 60,s and 70,s without all this BS govt intrusion. Those who would give up freedom for a little security deserve neither……

  11. cclngthr says:

    It appears genetic, BUT there are cases where autism occurs without a known genetic link. If you have a child/person with autism, there is a higher chance of having another child with autism particularly if it is a boy. However there are families with only one child with autism.

    It is not only processed foods, but products that have been fed with pesticides, and other chemicals that are not organic. This can be anything to meat, fresh fruits/vegetables or other foods.

  12. itwasntmethistime says:

    blakeshouse — The reason there wasn’t as much government intrusion in the 60’s and 70’s is because there weren’t as many toxins. Those of us who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s were exposed to a lot less chemicals while we were growing than kids are today, so yeah, we are pretty lucky. Without govenrment intrusion, manufacturers would not willingly avoid harmful toxins, just like they’ll sabotage the environment if they aren’t regulated.

  13. Great Letter! I have the same concerns as a mother. Toxic flame retardants are in almost all items (furniture, etc) that contain foam. It is truly frightening. I have recently read the book Raising Elijah by Sandra Steingraber and it should be required reading for all law makers and concerned parents. The environmental crisis is a parenting crisis.

  14. cclngthr says:


    We will never get rid of toxins because there are regulations that mandate certain chemicals be used to protect us. Fire retardants have to be in clothing to keep the fabric from burning easily. The fire retardants also is used in building materials to keep fire contained in the space that it originated.

    Unless we want to walk everywhere, freeze, and buy food everyday, we will be exposed to certain types of chemicals. The act of heating our house even electrically means that there are certain toxins used.

    Diesel exhaust is a trigger to asthma; although the exhaust does not cause asthma; it can trigger it. However, diesel is a better type of fuel that produces more BTU’s than with other fuels. A lot of people propose E85, but with E85, you will use twice as much of that fuel than with straight gasoline. E85 also will melt regular rubber and also will corrode metal unless it is stainless steel. More toxins here.

  15. alindasue says:


    We may not be able to totally eliminate toxins from our urban environment, but we can try to minimize them. It does require effort on our parts to be aware of what we are buying and what is in it, but it can be done.

    For example, we can find or make alternatives to the foam children’s products the letter writer is concerned about. Rather than buying a special foam “nursing pillow”, use a regular pillow. (That’s what our grandmothers did, itwasntmethistime.)

    I also have an autistic child, but I know enough to realize that there are many forms of autism and many causes. It’s not all genetics or environment.

    Nevertheless, we should minimize our exposure to toxins as much as possible. It just makes good health sense. The best way to do that is to be aware and informed consumers and to “vote with our wallets”. If we don’t buy the products, they’ll quit making them.

  16. Heck with kids!! Dang little twerps!! I think we need a movement to “Stop exposure of middle aged old men to Twinkies!!”

    Dang things give me heartburn!

  17. cclngthr says:

    I know that autism comes in different forms; as with any disability; but there is no known cause for it. However recent research on 6 month old children who have it shows the disability is present that early, which leads towards it being present when the child is born. Autism is sort of a wiring issue and that generally occurs before birth. It also can happen multiple times in one family. No one really knows what causes it.

    We still don’t know which toxins are bad. Sometimes making a product requires the use of toxins; which are unavoidable.

  18. modyfied says:

    Can we start with a ban on VOLUNTARY chemical introduction? Why do we need to ingest Flouride? Why did we allow it? Look up the governments OWN WARNING on this hazardous chemical. Connected to Autism? Possibly. Lets at least start with something we control, then tighten up on the things we need more work on…

  19. itwasntmethistime says:

    modyfied — You’ve got my vote. Entire communities are exposed to excess fluoride because the same people who can least afford to go to the dentist are also the ones least likely to brush their kids’ teeth twice a day.

  20. itwasntmethistime says:

    And another thing — by the time a house fire spreads to the mattress my child is sleeping on he will probably already be dead from smoke inhalation. The original purpose of treating mattresses with flame retardants was to curb fires involving people smoking in bed. So again, everybody in the entire country is exposed to carcinogens 8 hours per night because of a few idiots who absolutely must smoke in bed.

  21. cc – the fact that autism can be seen running in families doesn’t disprove environment unless the family members have been raised in different environment. I would think that someone who has done the amount of research on Aspergers and autism that you claim would know something so basic about research methodologies.

    You sound a bit like the Tobacco companies who claimed that there was no proof that their product was linked to cancer. It is absurd to make the claim that, since there is not absolute proof that known toxins cause autism then there is no reason to prevent infants and children from being in environments full of these known toxins. Whether or not toxins cause autism doesn’t matter – they are TOXIC.

  22. cclngthr says:

    There are too many UNKNOWNS of what causes Autism/Aspergers to make a valid claim that it is caused by toxins, or any other cause. If we start saying it is caused by this or that chemical or something else, people will try to claim that as true, which it isn’t.

    Autism does run in families. Have had students with siblings with it. It is also known if a family has a child WITH autism, there is a higher chance that the family will have another child with the disability, particularly if it is a male. Although some families may not have another child with autism, some families will have another child with autism.

    What I am saying is we can’t difinitively claim that toxins alone causes autism because that would be a false claim.

    Our society is filled with chemicals. Fire retardants are in insulation, clothing and other products to keep fires from spreading too quickly.

    Other toxic chemicals are also in everyday things.

    With floride, it is in tap water to attempt to prevent tooth decay; however as you said, many people least likely to afford to go to the dentist don’t. Without proper dental care, they typically neglect their teeth in other ways.

    Speaking of teeth, I remember in school we kids were required to brush our teeth daily AT SCHOOL. That doesn’t happen now.

  23. alindasue says:

    cclngthr said, “What I am saying is we can’t difinitively claim that toxins alone causes autism because that would be a false claim.”

    Yes. I agree, and no one here except the original letter writer has made such a claim.

    beerBoy said, “Whether or not toxins cause autism doesn’t matter – they are TOXIC.”

    THAT is what I have been saying.

    I am well aware that there are some toxin we can’t avoid. They are part of our environment, like the fire retardant in some insulations and the glue in plywood and chipboard, etc..

    HOWEVER, we can minimize our exposure through careful choices as consumers. We can avoid the use of herbicides and pesticides in our yards and in the food we buy. We can choose not to buy products like the foam toys the letter writer mentioned. We can buy fabrics that are not treated with a flame retardant, choosing instead fabrics that are naturally flame retardant such as wool or silk. We can build our decks and fences out of cedar rather than chemical soaked pine. We can buy unbleached paper products.

    There are thousand of little choices that make a difference in how many toxins we expose ourselves or the environment to. The more of those non-toxic choices we as consumers make, the more manufacturers will be compelled to produce those non-toxic or less toxic products.

    By the way, regarding the fluoride debate – my youngest daughter was born after they started putting fluoride in Tacoma’s water, so she began ingesting it as soon as she was introduced to juice at three months old. She now has the stains on her teeth associated with forming teeth being exposed to too much fluoride.


    I don’t think that’s quite what the dentists had in mind when they began pushing for water fluoridation, although many people did try to warn us. I was neutral on the subject at the time they started it. I’m not so sure I would be now.

  24. alindasue says:

    That was supposed to say “…thousands of little choices…”, as in non-specific big number.

  25. itwasntmethistime says:

    Alindasue, Diana (the original letter writer,) and I have something the rest of you don’t — Mommy RADAR. We are opposed to excess toxins because we intuitively know that they are bad for our youngins’. While you all fight about whether it can be scientifically proven that one chemical or another is toxic and what that means to development, we’ll go with our instincts to keep our kids away from substances not intended to be absorbed by the human body.

    Maybe autism seems to run in families because people in the same family usually live in the same environment.

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