Ask Your Questions About Toxic Free Living
and Get Answers From Me and My Readers
I’ve been doing this Q&A blog for about ten years, so there are literally thousands of questions and answers here. If you’ve got a question, there’s probably an answer, and if there isn’t post a question of your own. It’s free.
From Debra Lynn Dadd
I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but today, two new food guides were released.
The first to come into my email inbox is the 2014 Good Food Org Guide, produced by The Food Think Tank in partnership with the James Beard Foundation. It highlights more than 400 organizations across the United States leading the way toward building a better food system. Good to see so many groups working to improve our food supply!
The second announcement was from Environmental Working Group, announcing their new food database Rate Your Plate. With information on more than 80,000 foods and 5,000 ingredients from 1,500 brands, EWG’s unique scoring system rates foods based on nutrition, food additives, contaminants and degree of processing.
I have to say, I think Rate Your Plate will be more useful as an educational tool to find out what is in your favorite processed foods, rather than a tool to find something safe to eat. I’m not sure how useful the ratings are going to be here. I looked up “pickles” and only 7 brands were rated “1″ (best). I clicked on one and they weren’t organic. This is what happens when you combine concerns. You get a weighted score instead of a clear score in one area. So it’s not a tool for finding organic pickles, but it will show you the 282 brands of pickles rated 5 (not so good).
The benefit I see is that you can type in virtually any processed food on the market that you might be eating and find out how bad it is.
I’m going to stick with my homemade fermented garlic dill pickles. Organic ingredients, no processing, no additives. Beneficial probiotics.
From Debra Lynn Dadd
I always love it when there are clear-cut standards for labeling. On October 15, Whole Foods introduced a whole new system to help their customers identify fruits, vegetables, and flowers as GOOD, BETTER, or BEST.
Known as “Responsibly Grown,” the rating system assesses growing practices that impact human health and the environment.
Growing practices are reviewed for
– Pest management, including prohibited and restricted pesticides
– Farm worker welfare
– Pollinator protection
– Water conservation and protection
– Soil health
– Waste reduction and recycling and packaging
– Air, energy, and climate
Having such a standard makes an impact in the field, well, literally in the field. Already farmers are working to move up to get a higher rating.
There are a lot of details, so I’m just going to send you straight to the website, so you can read all about it: Whole Foods: Get to Know Responsibly Grown
From Debra Lynn Dadd
Well, this is pretty cool. Now you can get a domain name that ends in .organic! Like debra.organic. But there’s a catch and a benefit.
You have to qualify. The names are reserved for members of the organic community. Any organization that wants to purchase a .ORGANIC domain must be engaged in the organic sector and meet the criteria established by .ORGANIC.
Here’s who may be eligible to register a .ORGANIC domain
- Certified organic producers, farmers, distributors and the like
- Certified organic textile and skincare providers
- Organic restaurants and venues
- Certifiers in the organic community
- Publications, journalists and bloggers catering to the organic community and industry
- Non-profit, not-for-profit and trade associations that primarily serve and represent the organic community
- As this rolls out, it will be interesting to see how this can help consumers identify organic products.
Like how can consumers find these .ORGANIC businesses? They are not listed on the .ORGANIC website that I can find. Nor could I find the standards by which they are reviewed. I just typed “.organic” into google and got nothing.
Great idea. Let’s see what happens.
From Debra Lynn Dadd
Here’s another reason to not use fluorescent lights.
According to an article published in the American Journal of Public Health, increased us of fluorescent lighting my increase UV-related eye diseases by up to 12%.
“The safe range of light to avoid exposing the eye to potentially damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation is 2000 to 3500K and greater than 500 nanometers. Some fluorescent lights fall outside this safe range.”
The light that comes from fluorescent lighting is similar to that of sunlight, bringing UV exposure indoors to homes.
The paper gives many details about fluorescent lighting and it’s dangers.
Question from Adriana Hamud
I came across your site while researching lead-free wine glasses. It’s an amazing site!!
Since my breast cancer diagnosis, I have tried to minimize exposure to toxins as much as possible. At least in the things I can control.
I need to know if the Bodum product line is safe to use; i.e., lead, cadmium and no glaze. Bodum also carries a kitchen line which includes storage jars. Are these safe to use?
Thank you again for this amazing website!!!
Adriana P. Hamud, MBA
Bodum makes a lot of products, which may be made from different types of glass.
The storage jars, for example, are made from borosilicate glass, which withstands high heat. This type of glass is fine.
All glass is made from silica, which is basically sand, melted down at high temperatures.
Borosilicate glass is simply silica with boron trioxide added. Virtually all modern laboratory glassware is borosilicate glass, due to its chemical and thermal resistance.
Clear glass is generally safe. The exception is “lead crystal” which contains lead and is very expensive. It is not used for products such as those made by Bodum. Also there are generally no glazes on glass kitchen items.
Question from Bonnie
I have owned a sleep number bed for about 4 years. The volcanized rubber air chamber still puts off a very strong odor. I can not even turn my pillow over because it will smell to strong. My bed sheets have the odor. In the past you recommended a aluminum camping sheet to block odor from a chair. I tried this and it did not work. I have a medical problem and it is the only bed I can tolerate, traditionbal innerspring is bad for me.
I heard about charcoal absorbing bed blankets. I talked to MDE and they said they are unsafe. Do you have a suggestion. I want to try the charcoal.
Also due to an ankle problem the only shoe that helps me is New Balance. The odor is horrible and takes many months to leave. Can anything speed up the process?
Lastly, what do you use for handwashing dishes? Thank You
It is very difficult to remove the odor from rubber whether in a bed or a shoe. Readers, any suggestions?
I see no reason why a carbon blanket would be unsafe. Many people with MCS use them successfully.
I wash my dishes with a variety of different products, as I am always trying new things. Currently I’m using BioKleen Natural Dish Liquid. It has a nice citrus smell that I like.
Question from mskleimo
Do you have any sources for non-toxic hair dyes or highlighters especially ones that can be used in foils which keeps it out of direct contact with my scalp? I have become sensitive to the ones I have used for years. I have tried Palette by Nature but it cant be used in foils. I just tried Naturtint but it still has peroxide and PPD which I would like to avoid. The Palette by Nature says its free of those 2 but is too runny to use in a foil. thanks!
First, the least toxic hair dye is henna. It comes in many colors now. But I don’t think it can be used with foils.
Maybe it’s time to consider not using foils. Maybe try henna, or no hair dye at all.
Readers, any suggestions?
Question from maya
Hi, Debra. Hope you can help. I am very sensitive and can’t tolerate my husband using aftershave. Do you know any unscented aftershave? Thank you.
I found a shaving forum where they were discussing this very thing, and pulled a few products off of it.
Here they are, in the order of most recommended
Lucido After Shave Lotion. This gets good reviews and is fragrance-free, but I couldn’t find an ingredients list, so I don’t know what else might be in it.
Clinique for Men Post Shave Healer. Again, great reviews, but couldn’t find ingredients list.
Thayers Witch Hazel After Shave This is the bestselling of the four on amazon. Here are the ingredients: Purified Water, SD Alcohol 40-B (Natural Grain), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Certified Organic Filet Of Aloe Vera), Hamamelis Virginiana Extract (made from Certified Organic Witch Hazel), Fragrance (Natural Witch Hazel), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Citric Acid. It has natural witch hazel fragrance, but otherwise unscented.
It was also suggested that just plain Witch Hazel
Question from Calico
I am still searching for a tolerable bathtub mat. You have an old discussion thread, and nothing new. Is there anything out there? Food grade silicone would be great but can’t find one. I just finished airing out a Heavea pure rubber bathtub mat. Once inside the bathroom I can smell it. Also in process of airing out the Vermont Country Store square/ perferated bathmat… After 2 months it is now the light scent of the rubber swim caps from the 1960′s. Have not brought it inside yet. Both of these had possiblities as they were not overwhelming straight out of the package. I even tried a silicone dot yoga towel but it would not stick to the tub. Anything new out there.
Readers? Any suggestions?
Question from Cindy
My husband and I both need to get glasses and are having a hard time finding the frames and lenses we believe would be non or least toxic. Please help!
Regarding eyeglass lenses, in a 2008 post you said, “The thing to remember about polycarbonate is that the concern is not outgassing, but leaching into food and water from contact. Since our skin does not contact the eyeglass lens, I don’t believe there is a problem with toxicity during use.”
Wikipedia states that “CR-39 should not be confused with polycarbonate, a tough homopolymer usually made from bisphenol A.” BPA? Wouldn’t wearing BPA be a concern even if there’s no skin contact?
Do you still believe that all of the following lens materials are relatively nontoxic: high Index plastic, Tribrid, Trivex and CR-39 plastic?
And or true of all eyeglass lenses since they’re not touching the skin? Do any outgass or pose other toxicity hazards?
I’ve listed below what I could find on the above materials in case you’re unfamiliar with them.
Tribrid. All about vision’s site says, “Tribrid lenses were created by merging elements of PPG’s lightweight, impact-resistant Trivex lens material with those of established high-index plastic lenses.”
Trivex. I’ve read that “Trivex lenses are composed of a newer plastic that has the same characteristics as polycarbonate lenses.” all about vision’s site says, “Trivex lenses, however, are composed of a urethane-based monomer and are made from a cast molding process similar to how regular plastic lenses are made…”
CR-39 Wikipedia says, “The abbreviation stands for “Columbia Resin #39… CR-39 is made by polymerization of diethyleneglycol bis allylcarbonate (ADC) in presence of diisopropyl peroxydicarbonate (IPP) initiator. The presence of the allyl groups allows the polymer to form cross-links; thus, it is a thermoset resin…
The polymerization schedule of ADC monomers using IPP is generally 20 hours long with a maximum temperature of 95°C. The elevated temperatures can be supplied using a water bath or a forced air oven.
Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) is an alternative organic peroxide that may be used to polymerize ADC. Pure benzoyl peroxide is crystalline and less volatile than diisopropyl peroxydicarbonate. Using BPO results in a polymer that has a higher yellowness index, and the peroxide takes longer to dissolve into ADC at room temperature than IPP.”
Regarding RX eyeglass coatings UV protection, anti-glare and anti-scratch are widely recommended and seem sensible. Do you know if they are generally safe or which are more or less toxic?
Debra, after reading your 2008 post about eyeglass frames and looking further into them, I agree that zyl (zylonite, or cellulose acetate) or frames made from propionate, a nylon-based plastic seem like good choices.
But in terms of finding the styles we like and hopefully frames covered by our insurance plan, we’d like some additional options. What do you think of aluminum, titanium, nickel or stainless steel frames? Many are blends of these– any thoughts on blends?
Also, you said you wear metal frames, do you think they’re a less toxic choice than plastic? Any long term health concerns with EMFs from metal frames? We would be wearing our RX glasses most of the day.
Thank you. Anything you can do to allay our anxiety on picking out the least toxic glasses would be greatly appreciated!
OK. To start, I haven’t been able to find anything which states that BPA is a hazard from outgassing, only ingestion. Recommendations are to not eat canned food or beverages, or drinking water from polycarbonate bottles. Also don’t allow your dentists to apply dental sealants made from BPA (BADGE). But there are no warnings about not wearing polycarbonate glasses.
Polycarbonate is a very hard plastic, and these don’t outgas the way soft plastics do. So I have no reason to believe that you would have any exposure to BPA from wearing the glasses. That said, you would probably get some exposure to BPA from touching the glasses, so when cleaning them, touch them only with the cleaning cloth and not your bare fingers.
All of the plastics you mention are hard plastics, so they would not outgas much, if at all. I couldn’t get any more information that you got on the exact materials, but I would say they probably don’t contain BPA as polycarbonate does, so any one of them would be better in that regard.
Like lenses, it’s difficult to find information on the materials used to make coatings.
I was abole to find that Teflon is use to make coatings that are scratch-resistant, anti-static, and reduced-glare.
Anti-reflective coatings may contain magnesium fluoride or fluoropolymers.
But whether or not the presence of these chemicals would result in an actual exposure, I don’t know. Teflon needs to be heated to cooking temperature to release it’s toxic gas. Fluoride is a particle that is likely bound up in the coating and would not offgas.
Regardless, these exposures would be extremely small, if any.
Metal vs plastic frames?
In 2008, when I wrote my last post on this subject, I preferred metal frames over plastic. But after researching the plastic used to make frames, and finding that it is usually plant based, I’ve been wearing plastic frames. As stated before, metal frames were giving my skin a rash at the points where they touched my face.
At the moment I am wearing my favorite glasses of all time, a pair of readers with bamboo temples that I got from Peepers. A number of companies are making them now. There’s quite a selection at amazon.com