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More About Blenders

Last week I wrote about PTFE as an ingredient in the seal at the bottom of Vitamix containers.  I want to reframe this discussion because this is not an issue about one brand.  I have researched further and found that other blenders, high-speed, professional-grade blenders in particular, also contain PTFE.  And some that do not use it will not disclose what they use in its place to keep the containers water-tight.

 

I also want to make sure it’s understood that there is no regulation that prohibits PTFE use in consumer products including those that come in contact with food.  Manufacturers are free to use it.  It is a matter of choice whether consumers WANT it in their products.

 

What is PTFE and is it Safe?

 

PTFE is one of 3000 poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used in consumer products.  PFAS chemicals are known as “forever chemicals” because they are persistent in the environment and in our bodies.  Most people looking to avoid toxins choose not to use non-stick pots and pans because the PTFE-containing coating, when heated, can release fumes that coat the lungs and can cause fluoropolymer fever, also known as Teflon flu.  PFOA, another PFAS chemical, used to be used to manufacture PTFE and was sometimes found as a contaminant in products made with the chemical.  PFOA is considered a toxic substance by the EPA and has been linked to adverse effects including cancer, birth defects and liver damage.  Fortunately, most reputable companies no longer manufacture PTFE using PFOA.

So, is PTFE harmful even when it is not heated and when it is not contaminated with PFOA?

Some health experts contend that the chemical is safe because it is inert and will pass through the body without harm.  According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), PTFE is considered a moderate health concern because it hasn’t been studied and there is no evidence that the PFAS chemicals that have replaced PFOAs are much safer.  There is no direct evidence that PTFE coming in contact with food is harmful, but there is also no conclusive evidence that it is free of harm.

Which Blenders Contain PTFE?

 

The following blenders use PTFE in the seal at the bottom of the container:

  • Vitamix
  • Blendtec
  • Ninja

The following blenders do NOT contain PTFE:

  • KitchenAid: There is no PTFE in any KitchenAid product.
  • Breville
  • Cuisinart

 

Are Blenders with PTFE Safe to Use?

 

It is important to understand whether or not the PTFE migrates into the food and unfortunately, I can’t answer that.  All other things being equal, I personally would choose a blender without the chemical as a precautionary measure. However, I don’t plan to stop using my Vitamix because of the health benefits from the smoothies I use it to make.  I do hope that companies, particularly those that sell the promise of better health, will look beyond regulatory compliance and seek materials that are proven to be safe for consumers.

 

 

 

Plastic-Free Holiday Lights

Plastic-Free Holiday Lights
 
While shopping in San Francisco last week I found these wonderful little holiday lights. I bought a box and brought them home and hung them up. 
 
Even though they are very tiny, they produce a lovely light.
 
These are tiny LED lights on a thin copper wire, but the effect is dazzling. They are battery-powered so you can hang them anywhere, and they even have a timer that is 6 hours on and 18 hours off. I set mine to go on when it gets dark at 5:00 and they greet me when I walk into my dark bedroom. I get to enjoy them all evening and then they turn off automatically after I fall asleep.
 
I love these so much I am going to buy more.
 
 
Now that I know these exist, I see there are some others. They seem to be called “Fairy String Lights” or “Flrefly Lights” as well. Some have copper strings and some silver steel strings. The cheaper ones may be of lesser quality than the ones I bought.
 
Anyway, I’m very happy to find these. The wires are much less obvious than the plastic green or white wires and much prettier. And they are not plastic.
 
Debra Lynn Dadd
new website on life beyond industrialization: https://lifelyforlife.com/

Furniture

Question from Shana

I’m looking for bedroom furniture for my son’s room, as well as the master bedroom.  I’d like to find non-toxic furniture that’s traditional, rather than contemporary.  The more I look, the more confused I get!  There are many Amish manufacturers that use solid wood furniture, but the stains are low VOC.  I know that no VOC is preferable, but is low VOC ok?  Most of the Amish companies use either Ohio Certified Stain or a catalyzed conversion varnish.  Are either of these ok?

Lisa’s Answer

Ohio Certified Stain has different types so I would need to know which one.  Also there are different versions of conversion varnish.  But, since you are going to the trouble and expense of buying solid wood furniture, why compromise and use a stain with any VOCs at all?  Will the company use a stain or paint that you provide?  Can you purchase it unstained and do it yourself or hire a handyman?  There are times when it is necessary to compromise and pick the best options available but this seems like one in which a totally non-toxic product can be created.
Its really a personal choice if low-VOC is okay.  The lower the better.  I have always chosen stricter standards for our bedrooms because we spend so much time in them.

Materials for a Desk

Question from Miriam

I was wondering if you could help me with a desk.
I’m looking at this one, and there are 3 different options for materials.
I purchased the converter in rubberwood as I figured that was the safest, but it’s not big enough and now I am thinking of upgrading to the full desk.  Before I spend so much, I figured I’d see if you had any thoughts on it!
If you scroll down to “Top It Off Any Way You Like”, it goes over the different materials.
I had emailed about the desktops, and got this response:
“The Eco desktops are made with recycled MDF whereas the bamboo and rubberwood are solid bamboo and rubberwood. The rubberwood is just another name for the trees that they harvest for making rubber and latex. We recycle those trees once they’re done being used for their sap and use them to make these desktops. “
Obviously, I shy away from MDF but it is GREENGUARD-certified.  My understanding is that bamboo can be toxic from the glues they use, but here they claim it is solid bamboo.
What would you recommend?

Lisa’s Answer

This looks like a good choice.  The top is hardwood and the base is metal.  There are a couple of small plastic parts.  You could ask them what the plastic material is and avoid if PVC or polystyrene.  They say they use glues and finishes that are environmentally safe and non-hazardous.  I would just confirm that they are low- or ultra-low voc formulas.  Since it’s hardwood there should be minimal if any need for glues.  You could even ask if they make you a top that is unfinished.  I have a similar adjustable desk made of metal with a hardwood top and it’s great to be able to stand while you work!

Chemical Smell New Paint

Question from Rick

We hired a painter to redo our master bedroom with BM low VOC paint and after 5 weeks it still smells. We’ve tried a number of things to clear it, but nothing works. I recently read that heating the room to 85-90 as a Bakeout for a couple days might remove the smell. Is that a real way to get rid of the smell?  We cannot move back into our bedroom and winter is coming, so airing it out everyday is no longer an option.

Lisa’s Answer

Here is thread about a similar problem with BM Eco Spec paint.  Read here why I do not recommend bakeouts. AFM Safecoat is a sealer you could apply that is designed to seal in off-gassing chemicals. I recommend calling a green building supply store that has a lot of experience with this. Get their recommendation on which AFM Safecoat product to buy and purchase it through them. Here are two to contact. https://www.thegreendesigncenter.com or https://www.greenbuildingsupply.com

Will Outside Deck Offgas Into Home?

Question from Linda

I live in San Francisco and am putting in about 50, 3″ x 10″ x 24 feet beams to cantilever a deck under our house. Its treated with ACQ-A and I’m wondering if the pesticides will off gas into our home, through the floorboards.
They will reach under our living room floor (between a basement room and the upstairs living room about 18 feet. The deck will stick outside about six feet.

Lisa’s Answer

I can’t answer that.  I assume that it would depend on the construction of your home and how airtight it is.  Readers, any thoughts?

Bite Guards

Question from Kathleen

Any recommendations or warnings about OTC and custom-made (by dentist) bite guards?  I know to avoid phthalates (hence methyl acrylate), formalhehyde, and BPA.  No one seems to even report BPB.  And I’m guessing there’s a bunch of other yucky chemicals in these things.

The dentist-made guard looks like a combination of silicone or soft plastic on the inside and hard plastic on the outside.  My dentist practices biologic dentistry, but doesn’t know what’s in the bite guards she makes.  Said she’d try to get that info for me.  Meanwhile, she gave me a sample.  Holding it in my mouth for a couple hours gave me me an odd taste in my mouth; not sure what else it’s doing.  Ugh….

Lisa’s Answer

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any great options.  Here is a thread on fillings and braces which shows similar difficulty with finding safe options.  I would ask your dentist to get a MSDS on the materials that will be used.  When my children got braces, I has the orthodontist help me find an adhesive that did not release fluoride.

Plastic Bins and Hairbrush

Question from Stacy

1) Does PET plastic containers offgas? I have the plastic in my car and can get hot.

2) What do you think of the Wetbrush materials? It says nylon66 (which is fine) but what about the epoxy tips?

Lisa’s Answer

PET does offgass but minimally as compared to other plastics such as PVC.  Keep in mind that there are many plastic surfaces in your car.  That said, I always try to use natural materials when possible, so can you replace the plastic bin with a cotton tote?
I don’t know all of the materials in a Wetbrush and they were not listed on their website but nylon is relatively inert. Again, I personally would chose an unfinished solid wood brush with nylon or hair bristles.

Molekule Air Purifier

Question from Donna

New air purifier called Molekule. Sounds intriguing. Esp as it states it kills VOC’s also on top of all else, more powerful than HEPA.  Thoughts?
We just ordered 5 bamboo charcoal bags you recommended.

Lisa’s Answer

Molekule is an excellent air filter.  People with MCS may prefer EnviroKlenz because it was made for sensitive people who may not be able to tolerate the materials used to make the unit.  I have a Molekule and think it does a great job.  Here is more on the technology.

Washing Clothing in Unfiltered Water

Question from James

My house uses city water i cant afford the pure effect whole home filter at the moment but i was wondering is their another way i can wash my clothes safely without worrying about any vocs,chemcicals getting in my clothes especially the organic cotton ones.Also is this something i should be concerned about or am i overreacting?

Lisa’s Answer

There are many bigger exposures that I would first try to address such as PU foam in mattresses and upholstered furniture and formaldehyde from engineered wood.  You can get a report on your city’s water to see if there are specific chemicals of concern, but unless there is a significant contamination I wouldn’t worry too much about this. I will be writing more in future posts about clothing.

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