The safety of Borax - also known as sodium borate - has been hotly debated the last few years. It is a naturally occurring mineral salt, and while it should not be ingested and kept away from children and pets, it was considered only a external / eye irritant by the FDA and Health Canada, safe enough to use in many projects around the home. Even David Suzuki recommended it as a cleaner.
A new draft risk assessment is available now, and Health Canada has issued an informational update recommending that Canadians limit their exposure to borax and boric acid whenever possible as it may cause developmental and reproductive side effects. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or nursing and young children.
Boric acid is found naturally in our food and water - and that's okay. As with many potentially harmful substances, toxicity is determined by the dose. The concern is that people may get multiple exposures to boron and boric acid due to its presence in many products and its ability to remain in the environment for a long time.
Health Canada advises that people stop using Borax to create homemade pesticides, detergents, and craft projects for kids like homemade slime and modeling clay immediately to reduce the amount of exposure. You should check the ingredients of storebought pesticides and detergents for:
Health Canada has a pesticide label search mobile app with the most recent product information and label instructions. Make sure you dispose of any products according to manufacturer's directions.
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OK, it's no lie. I have the unpopular opinion that this game is a menace. Most people can't say enough nice things about how much exercise they're getting, but there's a flip side to this coin. When you've got even less reason to put your phone down than usual, there's some bad things about that.
While you've got your head down, looking at your phone, you might not be paying attention to what's going on around you, and there's some serious consequences to that. People who have been playing Pokemon Go have been walking in roads without situational awareness and impeding traffic (or worse); they've been robbed of the phones that they're conveniently holding out in their hands. And they've just been plain clumsy, being so absorbed in the augmented reality that they fail to notice what's going on in REAL reality, and people have been putting out safety guides.
A lot of businesses and even homeowners are being invaded by people searching for Pokemon. Some find it great. Some don't, especially when someone else declared their property a pokestop or even a gym, and people begin showing up on private property at all hours of the day and night.
Loitering Pokemon players have caused problems for 911 operators and responders who are sent out to investigate "suspicious" people hanging out in parking lots and around landmarks. Some businesses and other locations are finding that people wandering around looking for Pokemon is inappropriate at best, or an annoyance for store owners at worst when people wander in without any intention of shopping.
Distracted driving is no joke. It can kill. It has killed. It kills A LOT. And if that weren't enough, it ruins lives, too.
Some years ago, my father-in-law, who was driving a large dump truck for work, hit and killed a young man. It wasn't my father-in-law's fault; the kid crossed six feet into the oncoming lane, and my father-in-law couldn't get out of the way. It was a head-on collision caused by distracted driving that the young driver paid for with his life. And not only did he pay the ultimate price, my father-in-law paid too. He had guilt, grief, nightmares, and even health issues afterwards.
Pokemon Go wrecks are a thing. A very real thing. North America already has a serious problem with distracted driving accidents and deaths without people trying to catch Pokemon, and in Ontario, distracted driving killed more people than DUI in 2013. You're up to 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash using a cell phone than someone who isn't. That's a big deal.
Put your phone down, and leave it down, when you drive.
Most people play first and think about the consequences of data sharing later. Pokemon Go has this convenient little geolocation feature that shows completely unrelated people where users are, and a feature that lets people create pokestops to specifically lure people to a location. Think about that for a minute. Just imagine what an unscrupulous person might do with do with these two things.
There's already been stories about robbers using the game to create traps for people. And hey, we're putting phones in the hands of our kids. If you don't think something like this could happen, then just check out this guy's little social experiment.
By all means, play the game. But don't be so crazy about the game that you don't play it safe, too.
This is actually a story about how I almost got in my car and drove off into the sunset: the situation in my home was that serious.
We were two weeks out from summer break. I have a job (okay, jobs plural, but paying nonetheless) that allow me to work (full-time, pretty much) at home 365 days a year. Hubs and I were having full-on fights about the status of our messy home because he didn't want to want to come home after working all day (!) and have to clean (!!) or cook (!!!) when I was already here and would only have to spend "about 20 minutes a day" to keep the house in order.
I'll just pause here a minute while you imagine trying to keep a house magazine-immaculate in just 20 minutes a day ALONE with a 7 year-old boy on the premises.
My "darling" son (and I say that in quotes because at this time he was acting like anything but) had only one chore: empty the dishwasher. And he wasn't even doing that. Every time we asked him to help out, we would get tirades about how he "had to do everything" (!), we were being unfair (!!), and how making him do chores was making him our slave (!!!).
His behaviour had been so abysmal that I took all of his electronic devices away and he was facing a summer without any screen time whatsoever.
That weekend, while I was catching up on some work (and curating a YouTube video about an 8 year old boy teaching college kids how to do laundry) while my husband was outside trying to catch up on yard work, my son rolled around on the floor whining about how bored he was. For an entire hour. Suddenly and very clearly I had a vision of what the entire summer vacation was going to be like, M-F. For eight weeks.
I lost my sh!&.
I grabbed the keys, told my husband I was taking off, and for 30 seconds entertained the idea of boxing myself up and mailing myself to another country. But the truth is I drove to the Dollar Store determined to implement a half-baked chore-chart alternative idea I got from seeing "Boredom Buster Jars" on Pinterest.
I had something my kid wanted. He had something I wanted. We just needed to figure out a way to make a trade. I got home, ripped open the box of craft sticks, and started writing. Every stick had a chore that someone needed to do. Every color had a time assigned to it.
Here's a few examples of the chores I wrote down.
YELLOW (15 Minutes)
ORANGE (30 Minutes)
RED (45 Minutes)
BLUE (1 hour)
And lastly, I added a few behaviour bonuses in green (30 minutes) that would get awarded as necessary.
Later, I sat my kid down and explained to him: if he wanted screen time, he would have to do chores listed on the craft sticks. For every stick he got, he would have that amount of screen time. And I told him he only had to do as many sticks as he wanted screen time, and to do the chores he wanted to do — it was totally up to him.
He was skeptical at first, because he didn't understand what he could do with only 30 minutes. So I told him: "30 minutes is a show on Netflix. And if that's not enough, then do what you need for the time you want."
He picked up two sticks. "So if I unload the dishwasher and then vacuum the floor... I get an hour of screen time?"
"Yup," I said.
The lightbulb went off over his head. Suddenly, not only was he seeing that he got screen time back, he was actually doing math to calculate how much of a reward he could reap with just a little time investment on his part.
Then he took it one step further in his mind: "Gee mom, I didn't know there was so much work to do." And I'm not too proud to admit I got a little misty.
Suddenly my son was helping with chores. LITERALLY VOLUNTEERING. In fact, he saw opportunities everywhere. He was helping my husband pull weeds so he could use the tablet on car rides. He was drying dishes by hand at Grandma's house so he could watch family movies with us.
Every day I pull a few sticks and tell him that these are things that are more urgent. Sometimes he does all of them, sometimes not; but seldom do all the urgent tasks get left all to me.
My house is still a little messy. But that $1.25 saved my sanity and stopped the arguments between the three of us. It was an investment totally worth making.