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Question from Annique

I noticed an older question about Janice’s in Hartford, CT by people wondering if the company was still in existence.  I called Janice’s & learned they are still open for business. Their website isn’t currently available, but they do have a mail out catalog.

I found these phone numbers online:
Phone: 800-526-4237
2nd Phone: 860-523-4479
Fax: 860-523-4178

Just thought you’d want to know!

Lisa’s Answer

Thank you!


Affordable Storage

Question from Anusha

I have going above and beyond with ikea to find out about their bamboo shelves and haven’t got any answers back about if they use veneers or is there any toxicity in they clear lacquer finish , and finally I found the Elfa options on container store but they are Epoxy-bonded steel construction , I am not sure if these are toxic ? its like I cannot find a toxic free storage system

Lisa’s Answer

Neither system will be entirely free of toxics.  The epoxy-coated system will offgas.  You did not give me enough information about the IKEA system to know what materials are used.  If I had to choose one or the other without additional information, I would go with IKEA.  They have a chemical management policy that is more stringent than many stores.  They limit, but do not eliminate, the use of the most dangerous chemicals.  The system you are referring to has veneers and a lacquer so it will have some VOCs but at least they will be kept to a minimal level.  The Container Store does not have a similar policy and the levels of toxics in their products are unknown.

Here is a company called Simple Closet that sells solid wood closet systems.

SmileDirect Club TPU Aligners

Question from Rosie

I came across your wonderful website while researching TPU. I’ve been using SmileDirectClub aligners in lieu of braces for over a year and a half to straighten out my teeth . The aligners are in my mouth for about 22 hours a day. I found out from the company that they are made of a “BPA-free thermoplastic polyurethane material, as opposed to SLA (Stereolithography).” Do you think there is a health risk in having these aligners in my mouth for so long? Are there other questions I should be asking the company? Thank you!

Lisa’s Answer

I have looked into braces, aligners and retainers and unfortunately, there are no perfect answers.  Fortunately, TPU is a plastic with fairly low toxicity.  You can ask for a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) that may give you a little more information into the ingredients and health effects.



Question from Christine

Hi: I just ran across this new non-stick cookware – The Always Pan – and wonder if it’s as healthy to use as the Xtrema cookware line (I purchased.

Lisa’s Answer

This is coated with ceramic, or gel sol, coating.  I do not recommend it.  You can read more about it in The Ultimate Guide to Non-Toxic Cookware.


Cali Bamboo Vinyl Plank Flooring

Question from Christina

Hello! I have been researching and driving myself crazy trying to find a safe flooring. We have vinyl peel and stick squares in our kitchen (they’ve been there since we bought the house 13 yrs ago) I’m sure they are done off gassing (no smell what so ever now) we are looking for safe flooring that can with stand our two huskies. We just purchased Cali Bamboo website – Cali Vinyl Pro Mute step in Dock Wood Oak color. It is Floorscore certified their website does list the reports of emissions. Have you heard any concerns of this brand? Any help would be appreciated. I am the only member in the family who is chemically sensitive. Since we already have the product, should I have my husband cut a plank open and put it in a glass jar for a week and see how it smells? I noticed it’s not free of phthalates – their reports states emissions under 50ppm. Can you help me to understand the danger the this? Thank you so much!!!

Lisa’s Answer

If you have to use a luxury vinyl flooring I think Cali is the best choice. That said, no vinyl flooring is a first choice for safety.  It is the only brand that Andy Pace, owner of The Green Design Center, has tested and found no formaldehyde emissions.  The company posts formaldehyde test results on their website.  It does contain phthalates, thought they are at very low levels.  Cali posts their test results that show phthalates very well below California Proposition 65 standards.

If you are sensitive, I always recommend testing a sample before installing.  Putting a piece is a glass jar and leaving it out in the sun is a great method.

Safe Lighting

Question from Cynthia

I am looking for a safe sofa lamp and bedside lamp.  Are there any manufacturers that you recommend?
I have chronic Lyme disease, “sick building syndrome”, reactive airway disease and more.
Also, what about light bulbs?  Recommendations?

Lisa’s Answer

Incandescent light bulbs are the safest choice.

For lighting, I don’t have specific brands to recommend other than custom made.  I do recommend Etsy to find makers who will tell you all of the materials used to make their products and who may substitute safer choices.  For example, wood bases are ideal.  Many makers on Etsy already use low VOC finishes and seals and some will use them on request.  If you are not EMR sensitive, a metal base is also a good choice.  For the shade, look for natural materials such as linen, silk or untreated grasses.  Glass shades are a great choice.  Many lampshade are lined with polystyrene, which does offgas.  Again, you can ask the makers to use a natural material in its place.

Polyester Fiber Vs. Polyurethane

Question from Zkel

In shopping for a mini or portable crib mattress.  The mattress is usually made of polyurethane foam or polyester fiber batting and covered by either nylon or vinyl to provide waterproofing. Between polyurethane foam and polyester fiber batting, which one do you think is less toxic? My goal is to select a filling material that is less toxic and remove the nylon or vinyl cover and replace it with a TPU padding.  Do you think that is a sensible thing to do?

Lisa’s Answer

None of these materials are ideal, particularly for a crib mattress but I understand that you budget may be an issue.  I recommend Naturepedic organic mini crib mattress.  

Polyurethane foam can include many chemical additives and they are usually not disclosed.  Additionally, it is highly flammable and likely contains harmful flame retardants.  I don’t recommend it, particularly for a mattress.  Polyester fiber is more flame resistant and may not include added flame retardants but you should check the specific product to make sure. It is made with petrochemicals and does offgas.  Unknown chemicals may also be added.  Without more information, if I had to choose one over the other I would choose the polyester.  However, I really don’t recommend either.

TPU is made from petrochemicals but has relatively low toxicity.  A better option, if affordable is a Naturepedic organic mini crib cover.

Carbon Steel Cookware

Question from LM

I looked on the site and did not find anything about carbon steel cookware. Apparently it’s  a “perfect hybrid of a cast iron skillet and a stainless steel frying pan. It has a cast iron’s heat retention, seasoning, and non-stick properties and stainless steel’s heat control, lightness and cooking speed.”  Is it non toxic?

Lisa’s Answer

I recently published the Ultimate Guide to Non-Toxic Cookware.  Carbon Steel is one of the safest options as long as it does not have a non-toxic coating on it.  Carbon steel that is not coated needs to be seasoned regularly, just like cast iron.

Dental Floss

Question from Patricia

I hesitated in bothering you but I am frustrated with not getting answers to questions regarding dental floss. After reading about the dangers of Pafs Teflon coatings on floss I am trying to find a brand to purchase that is organic and chemical free. I threw my Oral B glide in the trash. I love the Listerine Ultraclean brand because it’s easy to use and doesn’t break but it’s a light blue plastic string. I called them and they said no chemicals. Do you know if that’s true? I went to purchase other organic chemical free brands but after reading bad reviews Like from too thick, breaking easily…to poor packaging I am lost as to what to buy. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I would love to continue using the Listerine product but if it has chemicals I will stop.
Thanks for any feedback.

Lisa’s Answer

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you anything beyond what the company will disclose.  If the product is plastic, the claim that there are no chemicals is not possible.  Perhaps they said no chemical coatings?  In any case, out of caution, I would not use it.

I use FlossPot. It’s made of silk and is fairly strong.  My teeth are tight together and I do occasionally break the floss but not so often that it bothers me.  I love that is comes in a stainless steel container that can be refilled.

Sprays in Stores

Question from Karen

Does anyone else react to disinfectant sprays used in stores during this virus?

Lisa’s Answer



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