Health environment guide

When you are pregnant, it’s a good idea to look at your environment both at home and at work. Exposure to potentially toxic substances can have harmful effects on your growing baby. Here is how you can reduce your risks.
Health environment guide

Air quality

Poor air quality (air pollution) occurs when indoor or outdoor air contains gases, dust, fumes or odor in harmful amounts.
Helpful tips:
    Reduce strenuous activity when air quality is bad. 
    Ventilate rooms well
    Vacuum, wet mop and dust regularly with a damp cloth
    Avoid using fragranced/scented products
    Reduce the use of paints, glues, permanent markers, nail polish and aerosols.
Certain cleaning products have been associated with wheezing and asthma in children and some contain endocrine disrupters (affect normal hormone function).
Helpful tips:
    Products with ammonia, bleach, alcohols, and turpentine
    Products with fragrances or scents
    Disinfectant cleaners and antibacterial soaps*.
Use non-toxic cleaning alternatives, such as:
    Vinegar mixed with water to clean windows and floors • Baking soda to scrub clean sinks, tiles and bathtubs • Fragrance-free detergents.
Lead can cross the placenta and affect fetal brain and nervous system development.
Helpful tips:
    Don’t sand, scrape or burn off lead paint
    Stay away from areas under renovation
    Avoid hobbies that involve lead products
    If your house was built before 1950, you may have lead service lines. If so, run cold water at medium flow for at least 5 minutes if water has not been used for >6 hours. Also, drink bottled water or use a water filter on your tap that reduces lead.
*Disinfectants may be necessary for situations involving sewer backups, infectious disease control, diaper change tables and meat preparation (ie cutting boards).

how to safely handle paintsExposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is associated with various health problems for both you and your baby.
Helpful tips:
    Avoid painting, refinishing furniture, or using paint thinner or stripper
    If necessary, use latex paint and, if possible, choose paint labelled low-VOC or VOC-free and ventilate well during and after the work. Stay away until the paint is dry with no smell.
Personal care products
Many contain chemicals that have been linked to disruption of normal hormone function or can cross the placenta and affect the developing fetus.
Personal care productsHelpful tips:
Avoid or limit use of the following:
    Perfumes, scented anti-perspirant and hair care products ( e.g. spray, gel )
    Heavily-scented products
    Self-tanning products
    Nail polish and nail polish remover. If using, choose acetone-free products in a well-ventilated room.
    Hair spray. If using, wait until after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
    Hair dye. If applying hair dye, ensure the room is well ventilated, wear gloves and leave the dye on for only the minimum time. Do not apply more than 3-4 times during pregnancy.
May lead to early pregnancy loss, birth defects and affect fetal growth and development. The cosmetic use of pesticides is banned in Ontario.
Helpful tips:
    Control pests using natural methods: reduce food sources for pests, block off insect entry points, and eliminate damp conditions
    Wash fruits and vegetables well • Buy local produce when in season.
Over time, plastic can break down and the chemical ingredients can leach out.
Helpful tips:
    Do not use plastic in the microwave, even if it’s labelled
“microwave safe”
    Air out new soft plastic items (i.e. shower curtain) before use
    Dust with a wet cloth or mop
    Use alternatives to plastic packaging whenever possible.

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