In parenting there's such a fine line between providing relevant information and totally freaking your kid out. I first realized the importance of not going overboard with the "what if's" when my son was little and I had to give him the "Don't Talk To Strangers Talk." I didn't want him to be so terrorized by strangers that he wouldn't say hello to the postman, but I also didn't want him trotting off to go join someone offering candy in the back of the van. I chose a moderate approach and it seems, thus far, to be working. (Fingers crossed on so many levels.)
I find a comparably moderate approach often helpful when talking to other parents about politics, religion, and divorce. But when it comes to the subject of health, and the increased amount of research linking rising rates of cancer to environmental toxins, I want to get on the roof and yell "Hey folks, let's at least follow the Precautionary Principle!
What am I yelling about? The Precautionary Principle is a concept used in scientific research that is now being applied to environmental health that says, "if an ingredient is not necessary and there is any concern about safety, let's just not use it."
The chemical companies don't much like this, but speaking as a mom, I don't much like what the chemical companies are putting in our food, cosmetics, cleaning products, and children's toys. Because as the number - and mix - of chemicals in our environment increases, so too do rates of asthma, allergies, autism, and cancer increase.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, pediatric cancer is now the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children under the age of fifteen and in 2009, cancer cost our nation over $243 billion dollars.
Many still argue that there's not enough research to say X is directly causing Y, but I’m following the Precautionary Principle in my home.
Why? Because there are over 60,000 chemicals in use today that have never been tested for human toxicity, and the National Institute of Health's latest Report on Carcinogens lists over 240 substances found in commonly used household products as "reasonably anticipated" human carcinogens (cancer causing). That's reason enough for reasonable parents to demand a precautionary approach.
When there are healthier options, which there are, let's use them. Instead of all this nonsense that has our country - once a leader in health, wellness, and wealth, now a leading example of what not to do in banking, finance, health care, and public policy, let's instead adopt a sensible approach that starts with education and prevention. We teach our children not to follow strangers, now let’s also talk to our children and friends about reducing our risk of disease by not eating genetically engineered food treated with pesticides, and by choosing household and bath and beauty products made without unnecessary and toxic chemicals.
I assure my son every time he complains about having to go to school, “Knowledge is power.” While those on the payrolls of chemical companies strong-arm politicians behind closed doors, as parents we can open doors by collectively sharing knowledge and making decisions.
As parents, now’s the time to stand more strongly in line with that which we value, and we value our children above all else. They deserve to hear our voices and be inspired by our actions. Our future depends on it.