U.S. News & World Report recommends the following steps:
- Buy organic fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables most likely to be grown using pesticides, if they are not organic, include celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, and blueberries. I’m a strict believer in the Dirty Dozen Rule.
- Detoxify your lawn. If you have a lawn care service, make sure they are not using the organophosphate pesticide trichlorfon.
- Clean out your shed. The pesticide diazinon (sold under the brand names Diazinon or Spectracide) has been banned from residential, but there might be some left in your old garden shed.
- Use natural cures for a lice infection. Malathion is used for treatment of head lice. Don’t put a neurotoxin on your child’s head.
- Check your school’s pest control policy. If they have not already done so, encourage your school district to move to Integrated Pest Management, which uses less toxic alternatives.
- Choose Safe Water Bottles. Due to public pressure, many manufacturers are opting against the chemical, and labeling their products “BPA-free.” Still, plastics wear over time, and should not be heated. The safest option is high quality stainless steel (look for 18/8 or 18/10 on the bottom) or an aluminum bottle with a water-based, nontoxic lining, such as those from Sigg.
The beautiful shape is one of the reasons that SIGG was incorporated into the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New-York. SIGG bottles are 100% recyclable and contribute to improving the world’s carbon footprint.
The problem with pesticide exposure is that the majority of the negative reactions occur sometime in the future. The scientific literature has already established convincing associations between pesticide exposure and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and muscular sclerosis.
Now, a study in the journal Pediatrics has found disturbing links between some of the most commonly used pesticides and a significantly increased risk of ADHD symptoms in children.
Common Pesticides Linked to ADHD
In this study, the urine of 1,139 children between the ages of 8 and 15 were tested for six pesticide metabolites. One hundred and nineteen of the children were diagnosed with ADHD.
Children with a ten-fold increase in metabolites from the pesticide malathion (found in head lice treatments) were 55 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, and those with higher than average levels of metabolites from dimethyl thiophosphate were 93 percent more likely to have ADHD compared to those with undetectable levels of this marker. The bottom line here is to make sure whatever product you choose to buy read your labels and do your research. As consumers we have to be very Leary about certain products with foreign chemicals we’re unaware of. Call the company directly, consult with your pediatrician and do your research.
Here are some other non-chemical alternatives you can consider:
Essential Oils: The oils of anise and ylang ylang, combined with coconut oil into a natural spray has been found to be highly effective, eliminating about 92 percent of head lice. Anise and ylang ylang contain essential oils, which are generally antibacterial, anti fungal, and insecticidal. These oils have long been known to have such effects; one related study found that the essential oil of an African plant, Lippia multiflora, was more effective against head and body lice than the conventional treatment.
Olive Oil: Applying olive oil to the entire scalp for a minimum of two hours may be useful. You can also sleep with a shower cap on and use the olive oil over night. I would not advise any other oil as olive oil is the safest food oil to use. The oil coats the lice and may serve to suffocate them.
Heat: The hot dry air produced by standard hand-held hair dryers may suffice to kill lice and their eggs on your hair. Use great care if you try this method, as the heated air from these devices can also easily scald the hair and the scalp.
Similarly, a clothes dryer set a high heat or a hot pressing iron will kill any lice or their eggs on pillowcases, sheets, nightclothes, towels and similar items that might spread them to others. Combs, brushes, hats and other hair accessories in contact with an infested person should be washed in hot water each day to dislodge any lice or nits.
Freezing: Lice and their eggs on inanimate objects such as toys may be killed by freezing temperatures. Objects that cannot be heated in your clothes dryer can be placed in your freezer instead. This treatment may require several days to be effective, depending on the temperature and humidity.
Haircuts: Lice will find little to grasp on a bald or shaved head. Although competitive swimmers who shave their heads generally need not be concerned about head lice, many parents may find this old-fashioned method to be aesthetically unappealing. Short hair is more readily searched for lice and eggs, but does not make the child invulnerable to infestation.
Lice may also occasionally be found on eyelashes or other facial hair. These lice should be removed by hand with great care so as not to injure the eye; insecticides should NEVER be used on or around the eye.
- Safety and efficacy of a non-pesticide-based head lice treatment: Study