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Temporary Tattoos

Question from Sanda

My daughter has special needs. She has self-injury behaviors and sometimes aggression towards others, mostly due to her lack of communication skills, so she easily gets upset. Her current “reward” of reducing these behaviors that seems to be working for her, is receiving a temporary tatoo at the end of the day for good behavior. I am a very health conscious mom and only have ever used natural products on her including natural soap and shampoos, lotions, hair products, cotton clothing, organic bedding and organic mattress. I’m slowly turning her playroom into mostly natural products as well (cotton carpets, curtains,  more wooden toys vs plastic). However, I worry that the only thing that is helping with her behaviors (the tatoos) could also be harming her health due to all of the synthetic dyes that I see are in body tattoos (despite the FBA claiming that they are safe). I use mostly the Melissa and Doug brand temporary body tatoos, but I am on a desperate hunt all over the internet to try to find a “plant based vegetable dye” temporary tatoo, if there even is such a thing. I know that there is vegetable dye play-doh and crayons, but I have had no luck finding natural temporary tatoos. I am also open to using  kids stamps on her skin sometimes as a reward in place of a tatoo, but I also cant find any natural plant based stamps. My daughter enjoys the colorful  pictures of the tatoos (so henna would not work).  Please help if you know of any 🙂



Lisa’s Answer


Readers, any suggestions for safer tattoos?

The Melissa and Doug tattoos meet global safety standards but there are concerning ingredients that I would not want to use regularly on a child. Here is the information from the company:

The ingredients in our Temporary Tattoos are: Styrene/ butadiene copolymer, Paraffin, Rosin/ Colophane, Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15895), Iron Oxides (CI 77499).

Gotham Steel Frying Pan

Question from Sandee

Do you think Gotham’s stainless steel fry pan is safe to use? My husband wants a pan as close to nonstick as possible.

The pan is billed as nonstick ceramic/copper/ titanium, PTFE/PFOA/PFOS-free, tri-ply reinforced stainless induction base.


Lisa’s Answer


The company did not respond to my request for additional information on the materials used in their pans but I’m guessing that it is a quasi ceramic coating.  You can read here about research that shows that quasi ceramic coatings released titanium dioxide nanoparticles into food and that chronic exposure to these nanoparticles can lead to immune disruption and pre-cancer lesions in the gut.  Again, I can’t say for certain that these pans use this coating, but I find that things that seem too good to be true, often are.



Question from Andy

Is WD-40 toxic?  My husband sprayed it all over a zipper on his jacket – I am concerned about putting it in the washing machine.  I understand some of the ingredients are petroleum distillates, and might be kerosene, or flammable ingredients.  Also, it leaves a terrible smell in washing machine that’s almost impossible to get out.
I wash baby items in the machine and don’t want any traces of toxins on her washcloths, etc.


Lisa’s Answer


Why don’t you wash it in the sink so you don’t need to worry about getting it on clothes in the washer?  The company does not disclose their formula but it is a petroleum-based product.  The Safety Data Sheet shows the following toxicity:

Inhalation: High concentrations may cause nasal and respiratory irritation and central nervous system effects such as headache, dizziness and nausea. Intentional abuse may be harmful or fatal.
Skin Contact: Prolonged and/or repeated contact may produce mild irritation and defatting with possible dermatitis.
Eye Contact: Contact may be irritating to eyes. May cause redness and tearing.
Ingestion: This product has low oral toxicity. Swallowing may cause gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This product is an aspiration hazard. If swallowed, can enter the lungs and may cause chemical pneumonitis, severe lung damage and death.

Flooring, Tubs, and Cabinets

Question from TG

I’m looking for least toxic options for

1) solid wood floors to replace carpeting
2) solid wood kitchen and bath cabinets
3) bathtub to replace old lead glazed tub

Suggestions appreciated!!


Lisa’s Answer


For solid wood flooring, you need to use a finish that is free of VOCs and toxic solvents.  I recommend Rubio Monocoat, but please understand that it is not as durable as more toxic products.  You can read more about wood finish products on Debra’s List or work with The Green Design Center or Green Building Supply.

For solid wood cabinets, if you want as non-toxic as possible you need to have them custom made.  You can find a local cabinet maker or check out solid wood options on Debra’s List.  You’ll want to choose your own finishes.  The Green Design Center has a good selection of non-toxic finishes.

For tubs, porcelain-enameled cast iron or porcelain-enameled steel are the best choices, though they can be pricey.  You could also have a tub frame built and use all tile on the interior.

Non-Toxic Materials for Cabinet Refacing

Question from Gale

We do cabinet refacing and I’m looking for a non toxic cleaner to use in cleaning and preparing the face frame surface for an adhesive used to attach the new laminate covering to.

Also looking for a non toxic adhesive for this application.

I know they are out there but would like your recommendation on which are the best.


Lisa’s Answer


Readers, any suggestions?


Question from Dorothy

We are planning to have the carpet removed in the house  due to our cat urinating on the carpet.  We are looking for non-carpet flooring that is cat friendly and low toxins.  Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated. I have allergies. I am afraid of fixing one problem and causing another.


Lisa’s Answer


I usually recommend solid wood flooring with a non-toxic stain such as Rubio Monocoat, but that might not be the best option for a cat owner.  The Rubio Monocoat is a beautiful finish but it is not as durable as traditional finishes.  I have a dog and he does scratch the floor, but I am okay with that tradeoff.  For an engineered floor, I recommend looking at the options at The Green Design Center.  They test their products to ensure they are free of formaldehyde.

Pure Effect Water Filter

Question from Charlotte

I also have a Pure Effect filter under the kitchen sink
Do you know the origin of these filters, where they are manufactured?

I wrote to Igor but have not received an answer and am concerned if they are produced outside of the USA because of the health circumstances at this time.

I am in need of a replacement.


Lisa’s Answer


All of Pure Effect’s cartridges are made in the USA.  You can order them here.

Washer and Dryer

Question from Justin

I suffer from mold illness and moved into a tiny house so I could control my environment better. The tiny house came with an All/In/One Washer Dryer made by Best Appliance. Whenever I run it I get heart palps and terrible headaches. It’s off gassing or something. I need to replace it and have just enough room for a side by side 24in washer dryer set. (I’m guessing the All/In One components may off gas, or this is not a quality brand) Are there any brands you trust? It seems everything has that Prop 65 Cancer sticker on it too.


Lisa’s Answer

It’s impossible for me to say what you are reacting to because everyone is different.  I’m not aware of any washer or dryer that is completely free of chemicals that could off-gas to some degree.  You might consider getting a floor sample or used model that you could test before you buy it.

Is it Safe to Use Hand Sanitizers?

Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

Debra wrote a guest post this week in response to a friend who asked her what hand sanitizer to use to protect against the coronavirus.  I wanted to build on the topic a bit more because this has been on my mind recently.  I spent many years when my children were young trying to avoid hand sanitizer; it was everywhere, from super-sized bottles in the classroom to miniature tubes swinging from backpacks.  I told my kids to politely refuse but to instead wash their hands…a lot.  I surprised them a couple of weeks ago when I passed them a bottle while we were flying home from vacation.  Given the rapid spread of the virus, I’m following the CDC’s recommendation to use a hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available.


Fortunately, you don’t need harsh chemicals to protect yourself.  Follow these preventative actions and learn more about the CDC’s guidance to create a household plan.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. According to the FDA, it doesn’t matter what soap you use.  Antibacterial soaps have not been proven to work any better than regular soap.  My favorite non-toxic brand is Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces using regular household detergent.
  • Clean your phone! Apple recommends cleaning the surface with a soft, lint-free cloth and warm soapy water but warns against getting moisture in the openings.


Which Hand Sanitizers are Best?


Ideally, you want a hand sanitizer that includes the CDC’s recommended 60% or higher alcohol content but does not include unnecessary, harmful chemicals.  Fortunately, in 2019 the FDA banned 28 active ingredients for hand sanitizers, including triclosan and benzethonium chloride.   Here are some additional ingredients to avoid:


  • Benzalkonium chloride is a biocide, preservative and surfactant that is associated with severe skin, eye and respiratory irritation and allergies. It is currently being reviewed by the FDA to determine if it is safe and effective for use in hand sanitizers.  It’s restricted for use in cosmetics in Canada and Japan.
  • Fragrance as an ingredient can be a mix of undisclosed chemicals including phthalates. These mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.
  • Color Additives, labeled as FD&C or D&C followed by a color name and number, are sometimes made from petroleum and some may contain heavy metals. Some synthetic colors can be carcinogenic.
  • Parabens mimic estrogen and can act as hormone disrupters.


Here are some non-toxic hand sanitizers (EWG rated 2 or better) that also have at least 60% alcohol:


Why is Hand Sanitizer Not Good for Long Term Use?


Not only are hand sanitizers not as effective as hand washing, they have health risks when used frequently. Here are some risks:

  • Regular use of antimicrobials such as benzalkonium chloride can lead to the development of resistant bacteria.
  • Ethyl alcohol, which is the active ingredient in most hand sanitizers, and isopropyl alcohol are being evaluated by the FDA to determine if they are safe and effective for use in hand sanitizers. Alcohol can be drying and irritating to the skin.  It can strip the skin’s natural barrier, leaving it more vulnerable to attack from irritants, allergens, bacteria and viruses.

I plan to only use hand sanitizers during periods when there is a  high risk of infection.

Hand Sanitizer for Coronavirus

Question from Terry

What hand sanitizer is the least harmful and would be strong enough for the virus?


Debra’s Answer (guest answer from Debra Lynn Dadd)

Here is a page recommending hand sanitizers for coronavirus. I don’t know if they actually did any research to see if they work on corona visor or if it’s just a list of hand sanitizers.
13 Best Hand Sanitizers to Fight the Coronavirus

The active ingredient in most is ethyl alcohol (ethanol). Two use benzalkonium chloride and one uses thymol as the disinfectant. Scroll down the page and you will see the pros and cons of each.

The first question I would ask is which of these active ingredients kill viruses?

Alcohol DOES kill viruses “on contact”, according to this source.

As for benzalkonium chloride, it deactivates some viruses after 10 minutes of exposure at room temperature, according to this source.

So I personally would choose alcohol. You could purchase any of the hand sanitizers that meet your needs listed in the article or just used plain rubbing alcohol, which you can get at any supermarket or drug store.

Here is a CDC link where you can track cases in the United States. So far the numbers are extremely low. But here you can follow along and see if there is a risk to be concerned about.

I’d also like to point you to the transcript of a Toxic Free Talk Radio show I did where I interviewed Pamela Seefeld, a pharmacist, about colds and flu. We talked about viruses.

Basically you want to support your immune system so it can do its job to control viruses:

  • vegetables and fruits regulate and up-regulate t-cell activity to go to find viruses (You need to have oil, some kind of fat present on the vegetables to be absorbed)
  • control stress
  • reduce toxic chemical exposure
  • do moderate exercise
  • take the herb Andrographis
  • take homeopathic remedy Engestrol by Heel
  • take coconut oil
  • take liquid zeolite

You can read more details about all of these at:

It’s Cold and Flu Season—How to Support Your Immune System and Why You Shouldn’t Get a Toxic Flu Shot


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