Answers to Your Questions About Toxic Free Living

World Mercury Project

There have been many stories in the media this week about last week’s press conference by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Robert De Niro, Del Bigtree, Rev. Tony Muhammand and Nicholas calling for mercury-free vaccines in the US and other mercury reforms. They offered a $100,000 prize to any journalist who can produce a peer-reviewed scientific study that proves that mercury in vaccines is safe.

Kennedy has founded the World Mercury Project “to raise public awareness of the dangers and sources of mercury, with the ultimate goal of banning all uses of mercury on a global level. We believe the public is in critical need of accurate information with regard to the sources and dangers of mercury which will allow them to better protect themselves and their families from the potential devastating effects of the potent neurotoxin.”

“The average person does not know that mercury is the second most toxic element on the planet , nor do they know that it is an incredibly potent toxin even at small exposure levels. Once in the body, mercury has a high affinity for moving into the brain where it can become trapped for decades. Once in the brain, mercury causes a chronic inflammatory process in the tissue which has been connected to autism, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and many more adverse health consequences.”

Though there has been a lot of attention on mercury in vaccines, there are many other sources of mercury exposure. And the World Mercury Project aims to address the elimination of all of them.

Their website contains much information about mercury, documented with studies (click on “LEARN MORE” in the menu for many links to health and environmental effects and related illnesses.

Every toxic chemical should have an organization like this dedicated to identifying the problems with the chemical, making them known to consumers, and eliminating them from consumer products.

In addition, here is an excellent complication of studies on mercury compiled by GreenMedInfo: GREENMEDINFO: Toxic Ingredient Thimerosal

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Lead in Jewelry

Fake opalescent pearls are one of the types of costume
jewelry that may contain lead.


My reader Craig, who I’ve mentioned before because he sends me so many suggestions for Debra’s List, sent me a whole list of websites this week that sell nickel-free products, which led me to create a whole new “allergy-free” section on Debra’s ListWhile browsing these websites, I came across one that sells “nickel- and lead-free” jewelry.

I haven’t really written about lead in jewelry, so wanted to do that now.

Lead is one of the most toxic substances there is. It is well known there is no safe level for lead, but still it is found in many consumer products.

One of them is costume jewelry. In fact, high levels of lead have been found in costume jewelry, especially costume jewelry for children. Lead has often been used in jewelry, to make the piece heavier, brighten colors, and to stabilize or soften plastic.

Lead exposure from costume jewelry can be dangerous, even deadly. So much so it is regulated by the State of California with the Metal-Containing Jewelry Law.

I don’t wear much costume jewelry myself anyway, but this is a reason not to. Especially do not give costume jewelry to children to wear.

The CDC says wearing toy jewelry will not cause your child to have high level of lead in their blood. Lead does not permeate through the skin. But children do put things in their mouths. If you have children in your home, keep any adult costume jewelry out of their reach as well, as they can be made ill if it is swallowed.

Typically precious metals and real stones do not contain lead and are safe to wear.

CBS NEWS: Costume Jewelry Found to Have High Level of Toxins and Carcinogens, Test Show

CALFIRONIA WATCH: Why should I be concerned about lead in jewelry?


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Are Disposable Polyethylene Gloves Safe?

Question from Bonnie

Hi Debra,

I do not want the nitrile or latex dish gloves. Amazon sells polyethylene disposable gloves. Are these safe? I saw a web site that stated polyurethane gloves are also made. I read the latex gloves can have other additives, are they unsafe?

Thank you.

Debra’s Answer

Both polyethylene and polyurethane gloves are safe. I’m very happy to see this.

Here’s where you can order them on amazon:

polyethylene disposable gloves

polyurethane disposable gloves

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Glass Food Steamers

A question came to me this week regarding a glass steamer I had suggested back in 2013.

At the time it was the only glass steamer I could find (and it was only available in Canada.

But looking for a glass steamer this week, I found more to choose from. Here’s the list of what I could currently find.

HSN: Cristel Cookway 8″ Glass Steamer

VIVA TERRA: Borosilicate Glass Steaming Pot

MY COOKMATE: Pyrex Glass Steamer

JCPENNY Magic Chef 3-Layer Food Steamer

Steaming is my preferred cooking method now for vegetables (along with roasting), but I don’t use a separate steamer. I just put about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom of a skillet and turn the heat on high. When the water is evaporated, the vegetables are perfect.

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Health Benefits of Love


I received a lovely little article this morning about the health benefits of love.

It made me stop and think if each benefit was true for me. Are they true for you?

1. Enjoy a Happier Life

I definitely am happier when I am with Larry. It’s noticeable to me and to others. A friend just commented on that recently. But not just with Larry. I’m happier when I’m with friends and family and even when I am doing activities that I love. It’s the LOVE you feel that’s important here, I think, not what or who you are loving.

2. Live a Longer Life

I would say this is true for me too. Having spent most of my adult life very happily married, I think that has contributed to my health. At age 61 I have far fewer health problems than other people my age that I know. I attribute that to living a toxic-free life, but also to love.

3. Fewer Colds & Flu

I hardly ever get a cold or flu. It’s been shown that those who have positive emotions are better able to fight off cold and flu viruses. I agree with that.

4. Better Blood Pressure

While I can’t prove this one in my own life, apparently happily married folks have the best blood pressure averages, and unmarried people have the worst.

5. Healthier Eating Habits

Now this one I can verify. It’s much easier for me to stick to good eating habits if Larry and I are eating good food together. It’s also easier to keep those good habits going when you have a partner to help. Those evenings when I need to work and don’t have time to cook, when Larry is with me he can take over the cooking duties and make something simple, delicious and nutritious.

(I trained Larry to cook just for this reason. His cooking used to be pretty funny. Once, many years ago, I was sick so he made “spaghetti with red sauce,” the red sauce being opening the refrigerator and putting alll the red foods in a pot. But now he’s really interested in cooking and is getting pretty good at it. I don’t mind eating his cooking at all.)

Each of these benefits have studies to substantiate them. The studies are all given in the original post:

TOUCHSTONE ESSENTIALS: 5 Surprising Health Benefits of Love

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Cotton Leggings

Question from Bonnie

Hi Debra,

Cotton leggings? Do you wear them and where can they be found?


Debra’s Answer

Cotton “leggings” are snug-fitting cotton knit pants. They are usually made from cotton plus elastic, but I found some that are 100% cotton.

They are great for exercise and keeping warm in the winter. I don’t wear them because I live in Florida and it’s never cold enough.

I looked for cotton leggings online and found many are blended with synthetic materials—such as Modal and Spandex—in addition to the elastic.

Here are two that contain the most cotton that I could find:

Fair Indigo 100% organic Pima cotton leggings.

PACT GOTS certified organic cotton leggings in black, colors, and patterns (they also have tights)

HUE 95% cotton, 5% spandex lists many “100% cotton leggings” that are much less expensive than those listed above.

“Yoga pants” also came up in my search for “cotton leggings.”

Many years ago when I lived in California in the wintertime I wore what we called “leggings” and are now called “leg warmers.” Ballet dancers wear them to keep their legs warm during practice, and we all wore them in aerobics class. Most are made from synthetics and elastic, but these in the photo are made-to-order hand-knitted from cotton. Hippy Headbands Co.

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Commuters Using Public Transportation Are Exposed to More Air Pollution Than Commuters Who Drive

A UK study has found that while motorists produce the most pollution per commuter, those who take public transportation are exposed to much higher levels of pollutants while commuting.

The study measured only particulates, but this indicator shows a volume of pollution that would include VOCs as well.

THE TELEGRAPH: Commuters on Public Transport ‘Exposed to Higher Pollution Levels Than Car Users’

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BPA and Rules of Evidence

It’s been known since the 1930’s that Bisphenol A (BPA) weakly mimics the human hormone estrogen. Which means that, for women especially, bodies will accept BPA as if it were estrogen, filling receptor sites with chemicals instead of hormones.

Yet, despite this scientific knowledge, BPA has become ubiquitous in our toxic consumer world.

This article tells just why so many toxic chemicals are allowed and why it’s so difficult to get bans and regulations. This is why it continues to be our responsibility as consumers to change the marketplace by refusing to purchase toxic products.

SCIENCE: Rules of Evidence

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Anne Steinemann Investigates Indoor Air Quality

Our favorite researcher Anne Steinemann has two new articles about toxic exposures in our homes. She is a Professor of Civil Engineering and Chair of Sustainable Cities at the University of Melbourne School of Engineering in Australia

Both the articles were both published in the journal Building and Environment.

Ten questions concerning green building and indoor air quality” investigates the concern that green buildings may promote energy efficiency and other aspects of sustainability, but not necessarily the health and well-being of occupants through better indoor air quality (IAQ). Ten questions are asked which explore IAQ challenges for green buildings as well as opportunities
to improve IAQ within green buildings and their programs.

Ten questions concerning air fresheners and indoor built environments” investigates the seeming paradox that products designed to improve the indoor environment can pose unintended and unknown risks. It examines the science, health, and policy perspectives, and provides recommendations
and research directions.

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Restoration Project

Q&A RESTORATION PROJECT While moving the Q&A to the new site, I lost all the category tags, so there are no categories here yet. However, you can use the search function at the right end of the navigation menu at the top of the page to search the Q&A for what you are looking for.