Have you heard about the Moms Against “Cooties” campaign? The chlorine industry is spearheading a massive campaign targeted at moms. They are trying to promote the use of bleach in schools and daycare centers to protect children from “cooties” (really people-cooties? The last time I used the word “cooties” I was in 5th grade talking about boys not germs).
Deceptive and silly campaign
The whole campaign is ridiculous. But the piece I find most intriguing and deceptive, as also pointed out by Annie over at Phd in Parenting, is that the chlorine industry has completely hidden the fact that they are driving this campaign. The “About Us” section on the Moms Against Cooties site says “Moms Against Cooties is brought to you by Water Quality and Health Council. “ No mention of the chlorine industry. They didn’t make it easy to find out who they were. I had to Google “Water Quality and Health Council” and go to a separate site to find out the truth:
The Water Quality and Health Council is an independent, multidisciplinary group sponsored by the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association. The group comprises scientific experts, health professionals and consumer advocates who serve as advisers to the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council.
Bring on the cooties: keep out the harmful chemicals
The Moms Against Cooties site says: “Caregivers should be careful to disinfect frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis with a simple chlorine bleach solution”. What they forget to mention is that not all germs are bad. Exposure to different viruses and bacteria can actually strengthen a child’s immune system. They also forgot to tell us that chlorine and bleach ARE bad.
The truth about chlorine:
- Household bleach is the most common cleaner accidentally swallowed by children.
- Children can be exposed to dangerous gases when cleaners containing bleach are mixed with other cleaning agents, such as ammonia
- Chlorine reacts with organic matter in drinking water to produce trihalomethanes, which may cause cancer and possibly developmental effects
- A recent study links children’s exposure to one byproduct, nitrogen trichloride, in chlorinated indoor pools to asthma.
- There is some indication that chlorine by-products can cause kidney, bladder, pancreatic, and other cancers.
- Chlorine bleach can cause severe skin, nose, throat, and eye irritation or chemical burns to broken skin.
Make the switch: How daycare centers and schools can disinfect naturally and safely without chlorine
I’m not suggesting that cleaning and disinfecting aren’t important. I am suggesting that cleaning can be done in a non-toxic and safe way.
- Remember there’s no replacement for good ol’ fashioned soap and water.
- Teach children good coughing and sneezing etiquette (into the crease of your elbow).
- Use Healthy Child Healthy World’s checklist for suggestions and resources to help your preschool, daycare or school to make the switch.
- Use non-toxic cleaners.
- Make your own disinfectants. The Smart Mama has a few to test out.
- My favorite DIY non-toxic disinfectant recipe: Mix together 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid castile soap, ½ cup of vinegar and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil.
Remember: Some germ exposure is OK and can actually strengthen your child’s immune system. Bleach is not the answer.
What does your child’s school use to disinfect? Do you have a favorite bleach alternative?