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Personal Care & Health

Health

Dental fillings

Use
Composite dental fillings

Silver-colored (amalgam) fillings continually release tiny amounts of mercury into the mouth. People who have them have more mercury in their saliva and urine. Choose composite fillings instead, which are mercury free.

Don't Use
Amalgam (silver) fillings

If you have silver-colored fillings, consider having them replaced. Choose a dentist who protects patients from the particles and vapors released when they're drilled out. And don't do it when you are pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or breastfeeding.

Flu vaccine

Use
Mercury-free flu vaccine

Children's vaccines have been mercury-free since 2001. But some forms of the flu vaccine still are not. Mercury-free flu shots are available at many locations, upon request. And unless you're pregnant, you can also use the nasal spray form of the vaccine, which is mercury-free. Ask your doctor what form is best for you. The amount of mercury in vaccines is tiny, but no amount is known to be perfectly safe for everyone. Avoiding it when you can is a good precaution.

Don't Use
Skipping your flu vaccine

With rare exceptions, health care providers recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine. Get a mercury-free form if it's available.

Lead poisoning checklist

Use
Blood lead test for children
Blood lead test for pregnant and nursing women

One of every 20 children has a high blood lead level. Be sure to get your child's blood tested. Many doctors test at 9 to 12 months of age. See CDC's guidance on testing. If you’re pregnant, planning to be, or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about any risk factors you have for high blood lead (learn more here under "Box 1 - Risk Factors"). Get tested if you're at risk. The earlier a lead problem is found and fixed, the better.

Don't Use
Lead in your home and environment

Even if your home doesn't have lead paint, there may be other hidden sources. Learn about them in EPA's guide to protecting your family from lead. Check your home for the common lead sources that EPA lists, and take care of any as soon as possible, especially if you're planning a pregnancy. You'll also find practical tips throughout HBBF's product guide (where you are now) for getting lead out of your home and environment.

Other people's cigarettes

Use
Smoke-free homes and cars

Second-hand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including some that can harm brain development. But "third-hand smoke" is also toxic. It's the long-lasting film of cigarette smoke that builds up on floors, carpets and clothing. It sticks to children's skin and hands, and can end up in their mouths. Keeping your home and car smoke-free is the best way to protect you and your family from these exposures.

Don't Use
Secondhand smoke

Rooms where people smoke have higher levels of chemicals that harm brain development, including lead and common smoke pollutants called PAHs. Find smoke-free places where you and your child can breathe easy.

Stool softeners and other time-release capsules

Use
Phthalate-free stool softeners and laxatives

Lots of things about your body change during pregnancy, and this is one of them. If your doctor recommends a stool softener or laxative, choose one without "phthalates" in the drug’s gel coating. Read the ingredient label (look for the inactive ingredient list) to be sure it’s not there. Phthalates can spike 12 times higher than typical levels in the bodies of women who take stool softeners.

Don't Use
Dulcolax coated tablets

If your stool softener or laxative lists "diethyl phthalate" or "dibutyl phthalate" on the list of inactive ingredients, use another brand. Phthalates are linked to reduced IQ among children exposed during their mother’s pregnancy. Phthalates can also disrupt the body’s natural hormones. They’re a bad idea at any stage of life.