San Francisco Department of the Environment

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Children's Health

Children exposed to harmful chemicals do not simply respond like miniature adults.

Their developing bodies and brains make them more vulnerable to harmful chemicals than adults. As a result, early exposure to certain chemicals may result in negative health consequences later in a child’s life. 

Less-Toxic Products

Protect children’s health by choosing less-toxic products, eating the right foods, and keeping the air free of pollutants.

Tips for Healthy Homes

Should I be concerned about storing food in plastic?

Store your children’s food in stainless steel or glass containers to reduce your exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) and other toxic chemicals.

Should I eat fish caught in San Francisco Bay?

Choose the right type of fish for your child’s gender and age to avoid unsafe levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs).

How do I choose safer cosmetics and personal care products?
Read the ingredients list for personal care products closely and check the Skin Deep or Good Guide databases.

How can I control insect pests in my house?
Prevention and soapy water are more effective than sprays at controlling insect pests.

How can I clean my home without using toxics products?

Use homemade cleaners, look for third party-certified products, and choose mist spray bottles over aerosol spray cans.

Cautious Reuse

Recent national, state and local laws restrict the use of some harmful chemicals in children’s products.

Since these regulations only apply to newly-manufactured products, you should take caution when reusing, buying second hand, or accepting hand-me-downs of these items:

  • Baby bottles made before 2012
  • Flexible and squishy toys made before 2009
  • Play jewelry made before 2009
  • Pajamas made before 1977

Government Action

Learn about San Francisco’s pioneering policies that restrict harmful chemicals in children’s products.

Additional Resources

Toxic Toys? PBS video about phthalates in toys, featuring an interview with Debbie Raphael; Article: Toxic Toys?, March 2008

Little Things Matter: The Impact of Toxins on the Developing Brain, Canadian Environmental Health Atlas, November 2014

photo of rubber duckie

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