Information to help your family reduce their environmental exposures

Toxic Matters: Resources

This resource page follows the layout of our brochure. View online or download a printable copy of the Toxic Matters brochure. 

1. Prevent Exposure at Home

Don't Smoke  

Use Non-Toxic Personal Care Products

  • The California Safe Cosmetics Act requires companies that manufacture cosmetics to report any cosmetics products that contain ingredients known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. The California Safe Cosmetics Program collects this data and makes it available to the public through its website.
  • Environment California is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization that offers a variety of reports on environmental health topics, including: Toxic Baby Furniture: The Latest Case for Making Products Safe from the Start; The Right Start: The Need to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals from Baby Products; and Toxic Toys.
  • The California Department of Public Health’s Safe Cosmetics Program collects information from manufacturers on ingredients in products sold in California that cause cancer or reproductive harm such as birth defects. This site has information on emerging issues related to cosmetic toxicity and a list of chemicals for which the state requires notification of use from manufacturers. You can also see what potentially harmful ingedients that makers of retail cosmetics sold in California have disclosed in the latest report titled Cosmetics Containing Ingredients Linked to Cancer or Reproductive Harm: Data Reported to the California Safe Cosmetics Program 2009-2015.
  • Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database displays online safety profiles for cosmetics and personal care products; it allows you to search products and rank them according to their health hazard.
  • What You Can Do: This creative toolkit was put together by The Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) to better inform the public on risks of everyday actions. Learn about recommended foods, plastic products, cosmetics, cleaners and many others.
  • Made Safe, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the only nontoxic certification for products across store aisles, from baby to personal care to household and beyond. The MADE SAFE (Made With Safe Ingredients™) seal literally means that a product is made with safe ingredients, without toxic chemicals known to harm our health. Learn more.

Don't Spray Bugs - Avoid Pesticides!

  • Check out the PestiBytes podcast series developed by the Environmental Health Sciences Center at Oregon State University in collaboration with the National Pesticide Information Center. Each episode provides short, informative, pesticide-related information based on questions that come from the public.
  • U.S. EPA’s Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety highlights important non-chemical pest control methods and tips on using pesticides safely.
  • Natural Resources Defense Council’s How to Control Fleas Without Chemicals site provides practical advice to pet owners on non-toxic ways to control fleas.
  • The U.S. EPA provides information on controlling head lice in schools through their Integrated Pest Management Program for schools (see Chapter 11 of the guide).
  • Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides is a group dedicated to reducing the use of pesticides by promoting alternatives for urban and rural communities. They have compiled factsheets on a number of pesticides with information about their health effects.
  • Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides gives recommendations on which foods to buy organic.
  • Columbia's Center for Children's Environmental Health provides a brochure on how integrated pest management in the home can reduce your family's exposure to pesticides. The brochure is available in English and Spanish.
  • The California Department of Public Health's Occupational Pesticide Illness Prevention Program (OPIPP) has published a new pesticide hazard alert about getting rid of bed bugs safely after reports of illnesses among works who applied pesticides to treat bed bugs and among hotel and maintenance workers who entered rooms after they were treated.

Find out more about pesticide use on our Pesticides Matter page.


      Clean With Non-Toxic Products and Get Out Your Mop

      • The California Department of Public Health’s Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program has produced a series of brochures on how toxic cleaning products can cause or trigger asthma.
      • Two organizations, EcoLogo, a program under UL, and Green Seal, an independent organization, publish certification standards that define which attributes a safer cleaning product must have to receive their third-party approval.  The California Department of Public Health Occupational Health Branch participated in the development of cleaning product standards. In addition, these EcoLogo and Green Seal criteria cover other health-based attributes, such as toxicity and corrosivity limits and the prohibition of carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, and some endocrine disruptors.

      Pick Your Plastics Carefully

      • Women’s Health and the Environment’s Plastic Products page discusses how you can avoid toxic plastic products in food packaging and other sources.
      • The Environmental Working Group has a page of information on how to Pick Plastics Carefully and chose safer alternatives.
      • This creative infographic and article from Care2 can help you identify which plastics are the best and worst in your home.

      Choose Safe Home Improvement Materials

      • Healthy Building Network is an organization committed to transforming the market for building materials to make them healthy and more environmentally-friendly. On their website, you can find information about common toxins found in building materials, and how you can select better alternatives.
      • U.S. EPA’s Renovate Right brochure contains important information on how to prevent the spread of lead during a home, school, or child care facility renovation.


          Keep Mercury Out

            •  Advice About Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know. The EPA and FDA provide advice for women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers and parents of young children to make informed choices when it comes to eating fish and shelfish that are healthy and safe to eat as it pertains to methylmercury.

          •  Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch has pocket guides and smartphone apps that allow you to make more informed choices about the types of fish you consume.

            •  The 2016 Natural Resources Defense Council’s Mercury Contamination in Fish. A Guide to Staying Healthy and Fighting Back provides advice on how to reduce your consumption of mercury in fish. It also has a tool that allows you to calculate your mercury intake.

          • U.S. EPA Fish Advisories list pollutants and chemical contaminants in fish. You can look up information based on where you live to tell you if any advisories exist for your area.

          Avoid Pesticides in Food and Water

          • United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a model of food distribution where community members pledge support to a farming organization, and share in the risks and benefits of the harvest. CSAs are local and often use organic methods to produce crops. The USDA site links to publications about CSA and lists locations of CSA farms by state, city, or zip code.
          • Local Harvest includes a description of how CSAs work and a map of where you can find a CSA farm near you.
          • A non-profit organization of urban planners and public health professionals called the Public Health Law and Policy created the How to Make Healthy Changes in your Neighborhood  brochure to help communities work with their planning departments to bring changes in local fruit and vegetable supply.
          • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW) oversees implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is the national law safeguarding tap water in America. This site gives information regarding the regulations of chemicals in drinking water.
          • Pesticide Action Network’s What’s on My Food? is a smartphone app and database to inform consumers about how much pesticide residue is on their food.
          • Check out our Food Matters page and Pesticides Matter page for more information.

          Avoid Lead Exposure

          Visit The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page on how to prevent lead exposure, including an educational coloring storybook for children.

          Select Flame Retardant-Free Foam Products

          This fact sheet prodcued by the EPA, has recommendations on how to reduce your child's exposure to flame retardants.

          The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently published an article on how to buy a safer sofa free of harmful flame retardants.

          This article from Huffington Post examines the dangers of flame-retardant baby products and their widespread use.

          Flame retardant chemicals, their major uses, and the reasons their properties of concern are explained on the Green Science Policy Institute website.

          The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) flame retardant campaign page provides information regarding which products may include flame retardant chemicals, how flame retardant chemicals became so widespread, and the adverse outcomes associated with exposure to flame retardant chemicals. The CEH also developed a useful Flame Retardant Tip Sheet with helpful tips on how to reduce you and your family's exposure to flame retardant chemicals. The Parent and Family Guide to Flame-Retardants in Baby Products from the Center for Environmental Health provides tips on how to avoid flame retardant materials that can harm a child's developing brain.

          Choose Safe Home Improvement Materials

          • Healthy Building Network is an organization committed to transforming the market for building materials to make them healthy and more environmentally-friendly. On their website, you can find information about common toxins found in building materials, and how you can select better alternatives.
          • U.S. EPA’s Renovate Right brochure contains important information on how to prevent the spread of lead during a home, school, or child care facility renovation.

          Reduce Your Exposure to Wireless Radiation

          2. Prevent Exposure at Work

          For information on protection in the workplace, visit our Work Matters page and Know Your Rights page.


            3. Prevent Exposure in Your Community

            Clean Up the Air

            • AIRNow’s Local Air Quality Conditions and Forecasts site has a national map of the air quality forecast, with real-time air quality information for over 300 cities. Poor air quality may be hazardous for the elderly or people with asthma; in addition, the air quality forecast can tell you on which days you should avoid prolonged exercise outside.
            • CDC's National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (Tracking Network) has launched a new and improved Info by Location tool. This infographic-style tool allows you to enter your zip code or county name and view environmental health data and information specific to your county, such as data on demographics, asthma, air quality, smoking, and health insurance coverage. The tool also provides state and national statistics, so you can see how your county measures up in these public and environmental health categories. Visit the Tracking Network to explore the new tool.
            • The California Air Resources Board provides tips on how you can help clean up the air.
            • Learn about the Clean Air Act and stay up to date on air pollution at the EPA's Overview of the Clean Air Act and Air Pollution 

            Never burn trash, especially furniture, tires, and plastics

            The National Fire Protection Association has numerous community toolkits and teaching programs on what not to burn.

            Use organic or integrated pest management techniques in lawns and gardens

            Here are some tips from Beyond Pesticides on how to grow healthy lawns and gardens without the use of pesticides.

            To learn more about pesticides use, visit our Pesticides Matter page.

            Never throw toxic substances down drains, toilets, or in the garbage. This includes car oil, gasoline, pesticides, paints, solvents, and medicines.

            Check out this page by Care2 for tips on what not to put down your drain.

            Greenhome provides a list of the 4 things you should never put down your drain.


            4. Become A Smart Consumer

            Use Non-Toxic Products

            Healthy is a project of the Ecology Center (a Michigan-based nonprofit), and has basic information and rankings on a range of consumer products based on research conducted by environmental health organizations and other researchers around the country.

            Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database displays online safety profiles for cosmetics and personal care products; it allows you to search products and rank them according to their health hazard.

            United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Household Products Database is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and National Library of Medicine. It contains searchable information on household products, manufacturers, ingredients and health effects for everyday items.

            Good Guide provides searchable rankings for companies and products. Products are ranked according to health hazard, environment and social responsibility. Good guide also offers a mobile app.

            The National Geographic Green Guide website includes buying guides and information on sustainable choices for food, travel, home and garden. The Green Guide publishes a monthly magazine, weekly newsletter, product reports and reviews focused on practical everyday, environmentally responsible and health-minded product choices and actions.

            Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) publishes a variety of reports and policy papers on environmental health topics such as: children's health; health threats and effects; farming and pesticides; chemicals at home, school and work; and science and public policy. They also produce Smart Shopper’s Guides and NRDC’s Smarter Living site has factsheets and how to s for chemical safety and sustainability in your home, school or workplace. The site also has convenient shopping guides that you can download and bring to the store to help you make more informed choices.

            The California Department of Public Health’s Safe Cosmetics Program collects information from manufacturers on ingredients in products sold in California that cause cancer or reproductive harm such as birth defects. The website has information on emerging issues related to cosmetic toxicity and a list of chemicals for which the state requires notification of use from manufacturers. This information is accessible via a public searchable database that allows people to find out if personal care products they use contain harmful chemicals.

            Magee-Women’s Hospital at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center video series called "An Introduction to Green Parenting" is available on YouTube:

            Healthy Child, Healthy World has an online resource called Easy Steps to Healthy Home Improvement with tips on reducing exposures to children within the home. Other resources at the Healthy Child, Healthy World site include a Virtual House, which shows where dangerous everyday household products can be found and eliminated, a Resource Room with how-to s, articles and a chemical encyclopedia that provides information on health effects, uses, how we are exposed, statistics and alternatives for a large number of chemicals in commerce.


            5. Make the Government Work for You

            You Can Influence Public Policy!

  ’s Contact Elected Officials  database provides contact information for U.S. Senators and Representatives, state government officials, and executive branch agencies.

            WELL Network is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization of women who are business leaders, professionals, philanthropists, and decision makers within their communities. Through symposia, workshops, and publications, the WELL Network educates and mobilizes their friends, associates, and political leaders about solutions to serious health and environmental problems. These include the presence of dangerous chemicals in our bodies from everyday products, the impacts of air pollution on our families' health, and the immense challenges of climate change to our children and grandchildren.

            There are also several patient advocacy organizations that advocate for prevention, treatments, and resources for reproductive health and fertility. These include: American Fertility Association, Endometriosis Association, International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination and Resolve: The National Infertility Association.

            The Environmental Health Legislation Database is provided by the National Council for State Legislatures, and tracks state legislation addressing environmental factors that may adversely impact human health or the ecological balances essential to long-term human health and environmental quality, whether in the natural or man-made environment.

            For more information on your rights, check out our Know Your Rights page for California workers.


              Recent Articles and Videos

              • Formaldehyde Rules Clear E.P.A. After 5-Year Fight: Learn about the new law from the Environmental Protection Agency to limit formaldehyde exposure. This has been an increasing issue as formaldehyde is commonly used as a glue in products like flooring and furniture. July 27, 2016.
              • Air Pollution and Health Impacts: This creative infographic and article from The Guardian reveals that air pollution from traffic and industry causes premature death of more than three million people a year, more than malaria and HIV/Aids combined. July 5, 2016.
              • California's BPA Issue: You may know that BPA is dangerous, but do you know where it is? Most baby products must be BPA-free in California but BPA still exists in many products available to children and adults. July 2, 2016.
              • TENDR Statement: This article from the New York Times dicusses the new TENDR (Targeting Environmental NeuroDevelopmental Risks) and the growing body of research that suggests many chemicals — which are used to make plastic more flexible, fruits and vegetables more abundant and upholstery less flammable — may also pose a threat to the developing brain. July 1, 2016.
              • Low Wages Pose Health Risk: Learn how low wages are an occupational health hazard in an article from Science Blogs Pump Handle. Wages are closely related to lifestyle and working conditions, two of the most important considerations for your health and your families health. June 30, 2016.
              • Classroom Cleaning: This toolkit on early care and education provides guidelines on how to adopt policies in your program that will help you to put into practice effective cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. This includes tools, products and procedures to protect young children and staff from infectious diseases and allergens. March 25, 2016.
              • “Safer Choice” and “Safer Choice Fragrance Free” Labels: Women’s Voices for the Earth discuss the new “Safer Choice” and “Safer Choice Fragrance Free” labels by the EPA, developed to help the public select safer cleaning products. They are critical of the “Safer Choice” products, which may still contain chemicals that pose a health risk, but are fully in favor of the “Safer Choice Fragrance Free” products, which are verified to not contain any fragrance chemicals. April 4, 2016.
              • Asthma and Disinfectants: An article by Occupational Health Watch discusses disinfectant overuse in classrooms and urges teachers to clean with a chemical-free microfiber cloth. The California Department of Public Health identified over 250 cases of work-related asthma and now requires any school staff member who uses disinfectants to take a Department of Pesticide Regulation-Approved Training, beginning July 2016. May 2016.
              • Should You Pass on Plastic? An article by SELF examining chemicals in plastic water bottles. Learn to look beyond the BPA-free label for chemicals such as BPS and BPF, which can also act as endocrine disruptors. June 4, 2015.
              • Airborne Pollutants and Pregnancy: An article by MD News on harmful airborne toxins and their potential health effects. This exposure can have a variety of adverse effects on infants and children, including miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects, cognitive impairment and pediatric cancers. April 23, 2015.
              • The Dangers of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Do you know the dangers of hormonally active products? Women in Europe for a Common Future present an article and video on how to protect children from endocrine-disrupting chemicals. This video has tips on how to avoid everyday products containing pollutants that can be harmful to you and your baby. May 15, 2015.
              • Endocrine Society Statement on EDCs: This Scientific Statement by the Endocrine Society aims to educate scientists and clinicians on environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and how they affect health and disease. This thorough 150-page statement examines the most recent literature on EDCs, focusing on effects during development. 2015.
              • Everyday Products Effect on Health: The American Medical Women’s Association calls attention to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in everyday products. They urge health professionals to educate the public on how these chemicals can affect the body’s development, growth and hormone balance by mimicking, blocking or disrupting the body’s natural hormones. February 3, 2015.

              For more recent videos and audio clips, check out our Video/Audio Resources page.


              General Resources and Databases

              American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health – The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health is a professional organization of pediatricians who address issues of environmental health and toxic exposure. This site contains policy statements in support of initiatives to protect children of all ages from environmental hazards, as well as newsletters and articles on recent topics in children’s environmental health.

              California Department of Public Health Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS)  - HESIS uses scientific, medical, and public health expertise to help prevent workplace illness and disease. They evaluate new chemical hazards for the state of California and explain how they apply to workers and employers. This site contains projects and activities relevant to workplace hazards in California.

              Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) is an international partnership committed to strengthening the scientific and public dialogue on environmental factors linked to chronic disease and disability. CHE's web site includes: A searchable database that summarizes the links between chemical exposures and approximately 180 human diseases or conditions, and scientist-reviewed papers on the links between chemical exposures and numerous reproductive health diseases and disorders.

              Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Environmental Health Institute has curated a large collection of useful tools and resources for people interested in learning more about the health effects of industiral chemicals. This toolkit is a resource for health care providers with reference guides and health education materials for families on preventing exposures to toxic chemicals and other substances that affect infant and child health. Check out their Toxic Tools Database for more resources, including advocacy and clinical tools. 

              Tips for Obstetricians - This website from the Washington State Department of Health contains tips for obstetricians to better inform their patients on prenatal care and the dangers of environmental chemicals. This includes information from evidence-based research on BPA and phthalates, lead, mercury and pesticides and links to numerous other resources.

              UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science and the Collaborative on Health and the Environment produced a report entitled, "Shaping Our Legacy". This report provides a nontechnical summary of the latest science on how exposure to chemicals may impair our reproductive health. It also outlines what we can do to create environments that are healthier for fertility and reproduction. Download a PDF version of Shaping our Legacy here. Shaping Our Legacy is also availalbe in Spanish, entitled "Forjando Nuestro Legado: La salud reproductiva y el medio ambiente. Go here to learn more and download a PDF copy of Forjando Nuestro Legado. Downlaod a PDF version of Forjando Nuestro Legado here.

              United States Environmental Protection Agency – The U.S. EPA is the federal agency charged with protecting public health and the environment. This site provides a resource on standards and regulations set by the federal government for contaminants in air, water, and land.  It also houses information for the public on the impacts of various pollutants on human health and the environment. Find out what environmental hazards and conditions exist in your neighborhood at the EPA's interactive My Environment web-based tool, or check out their Concerned Citizens Resources.