Toxin Free Back to School

By Rachel Sarnoff

Are your kids back to school? Mine are. (Finally!) And bringing home school supply requests from teachers that include some pretty toxic chemicals. Here are two that are easily avoided.

1. Disinfecting wipes. Usually loaded with pesticides like triclosan, antibacterial products can breed antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” and are linked to spikes in childhood asthma and allergies because they wipe out both bad and good bacteria. And guess what? Studies show that washing–or wiping–with regular old soap is just as effective at preventing illnesses caused by bacteria. A new campaign from Women’s Voices for the Earth to raise awareness about the dangers of disinfectant wipes points out that the fine print recommends that you wash your hands immediately after using them. Kind of misses the point, right? If you’re back to school buying for the classroom, stock them up on natural wipes that don’t contain disinfectants, or look for those that depend on hydrogen peroxide or citric acid to kill germs.

2. Dry erase markers. Avoid those made with methyl isobutyl ketone, also known as 2-Butanone, which is associated with neurological, liver, kidney and respiratory problems. The maximum recommended safe exposure to 2-Butanone is less than 15 minutes during an eight-hour day. If you’re buying back to school supplies, look for markers that are free of this nastiness. Because what teacher limits his or herself to that?


Rachel SarnoffAbout The Author

Better known as “Mommy Greenest,” Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is a journalist, consultant, sustainability advocate and former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World who was Editor in Chief of Children magazine—before she had three of her own. Rachel was featured in Los Angeles and Lucky magazines and appeared on “The Today Show” and “CNN Headline News,” among others, to share advice about healthier living with less judgement. The author of The Big List of Things That Suck and partner at Give + Take swap shop in Los Angeles, Rachel also, where “you shouldn’t have to be a scientist to raise healthy kids.” Follow her and



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