One of the many side effects of pollution and modern technology is the rise of environmental sensitivity in children. As we strive toward finding ways to protect and keep the environment clean and safe, the health of our world’s children should be at the top of our priority list.
Contaminants are found everywhere in our environment: in our food, water, air, and inside our homes. As we continue to bring modern technology and pollutants into our home, we expose our children to invisible toxins affecting their physical, mental, and emotional health.
How Are Environmentally Sensitive Children at Risk?
The World Health Organization states that children are more vulnerable than adults to environmental risks because of a number of factors:
- Children are constantly growing. In proportion to their weight, they breathe more air, consume more food, and drink more water than adults do.
- Children’s central nervous, immune, reproductive, and digestive systems are still developing. At certain early stages of development, exposure to environmental toxicants can lead to irreversible damage.
- They behave differently from adults and have different patterns of exposure. Young children crawl on the ground where they can be exposed to dust and chemicals that accumulate on floors and soils.
- Children have little control over their environment. Unlike adults, they may be both unaware of risks and unable to make choices to protect their health.
Kids are often acutely affected by things like blue light, noise, EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies), household chemicals, toxins in food, and endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Their developing brains and bodies may react to a less-than-ideal home environment with anything from chronic upset stomach, insomnia, and breathing difficulties to mood changes and learning difficulties.
How to Reduce Environmental Overload
For parents of environmentally sensitive children, here are seven steps you can take right now to limit the number of environmental assaults on your child’s developing system.
Remove all electronics from the bedroom
A good night’s sleep is important to a young, growing child. TVs, digital clock radios, tablets, computers, and cell phones each put out a continual dose of EMFs, which disrupt the natural electrical pathways that are so sensitive in young children. When these devices are left on, they also emit blue light, which after sunset can disrupt circadian rhythms and suppress melatonin production.
It’s best to remove all of these electronics from your child’s sleeping environment. If he needs an alarm clock, choose one with a red or amber light display and keep it across the room from his bed. For any screen time after sunset, place the device in night mode or have him wear blue light blocking glasses.
Instead of LED night lights (which guess what – more blue light), the Green Child team lights kids’ room and bathrooms at night with these calming Himalayan salt lamp night lights.
Limit wifi exposure time
Aside from food allergies, EMF sensitivity is one of the biggest drivers in the rising number of environmentally sensitive children.
One impactful way of limiting your child’s EMF exposure is to plug your wireless router into an outlet timer set to turn the wifi off at night and restart it again in the morning. There’s no need for your family to be bombarded with a signal for the 8-10 hours no one is using it overnight.
Dr. Libby Darnell of Revived Living suggests using hard-wired internet sources for your computer, printer, and scanner via ethernet or an HDMI source. If you have a wireless printer and don’t want to get rid of it, simply leave it turned off except for when you need to print.
Keep your device’s bluetooth turned off and set your phone or tablet to airplane mode while your child is playing a game or watching downloaded content.
Cut out processed foods
Limiting processed foods and sugar will go a very long way in helping your environmentally sensitive child cope with her surroundings. Organic, plant-based food is healing to the entire body – especially the gut which is more critical to the immune system than we realized.
An allergy elimination diet can work wonders on a child with stomach troubles or skin rashes. You may discover that she’s less sensitive to environmental culprits when her body isn’t also dealing with inflammation due to foods she doesn’t tolerate well.
Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which directly combat the effects of free radicals produced by EMF exposure.
Filter your drinking water
Municipal tap water is usually laden with chemicals to make the water potable. Fluoride in tap water and Chromium-6 are two big offenders associated with negative effects in children’s health. Heavy metals, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceuticals, and VOCs are other offenders often found in water. At the very least, filter your family’s drinking water with a kitchen unit or a safe pitcher (glass is better than storing your drinking water in plastic).
Vacuum often and invest in an air purifier
Indoor air pollution may be worse than outdoor air pollution. Airborne toxins such as mold spores, household dust (which can contain phthalates and flame retardants), dust mites, cigarette smoke, pet dander, and seasonal pollen can affect a sensitive child’s ability to breathe.
To counteract these indoor attackers, be sure to change your heating and air filters every 3 months, vacuum at least once a week with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner, and run a HEPA and carbon air filter a few hours each day to help trap dust particles before they land.
Stop using a microwave oven
Microwave ovens are radiation ovens. The microwave distorts the molecular structure of the food, which affects our children’s vulnerable immune system. Studies are in progress on whether microwave ovens can lead to cancer over time. But why wait for a verdict if you have an environmentally sensitive child? Cook your child’s food the old-fashioned way – on the stove top or in the oven.
Connect with nature daily
Earthing or grounding for 20 minutes a day will help a child release toxic and sensory overload. Taking a walk, playing outdoors with a pet, or playing an outdoor game every day will help your child develop a healthier mind, body, and spirit. Nature plays a vital role in human health and wellbeing.
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, writes about the importance of giving kids time in nature:
“We have emerging research that links children’s mental, physical and spiritual health directly to their association with nature. We can look at it this way: time in nature is not a luxury; it is essential to our children’s health.”