Super Search

Submitted questions will be posted with my response by the following Tuesday or before.
Submitted comments will be moderated and approved within 24 hours.

Fumigation of Natural Stuffing

Question from Tgw

Recently I have read that many pure and naturally grown stuffings (ie kapok and wool) and even GOTS organic cotton from countries other than the USA are fumigated with chemicals (for insects) just prior to entry here to the US.   Products often do not list the country of origin for materials used; how do I avoid this since I have many sensitivities?

Lisa’s Answer

I agree this is an issue.  The only way I know of to find this out is to call the company.  There is no other source that I am aware of for this information.

Is Ceramic Dishware Safe?

Most ceramic dishware is safe to use as long as it doesn’t contain leachable lead or cadmium.

Lead in Ceramics

Lead has traditionally been used in ceramic glazes and decorations to give it a glasslike finish and allow colors and patterns to show through.  Lead exposure is a serious health concern and every exposure is harmful, particularly to children.1  The EPA does not consider dishware to be a primary source of exposure but because lead is ubiquitous in the environment, including soil, food and water, it should be avoided when possible. 2   Fortunately, many manufacturers now use lead-free glazes, although lead may still be present in low amounts due to contamination of raw materials from the environment.  Ceramic that is properly fired and doesn’t add lead as an ingredient shouldn’t leach.3

Cadmium in Ceramics

Cadmium is often added to glazes to create bright red and orange colors.  It is present in low levels in the environment and primary sources of human exposure are through certain foods and smoking.  Higher levels of exposure in children have been linked to neurological problems.4

Regulations for Ceramicware

There are regulations to keep consumers safe from lead and cadmium exposure but they are limited.  The FDA randomly tests ceramicware for leachable lead and cadmium and keeps a record of products that have failed. California Proposition 65, which requires warning labels on products that contain harmful chemicals at unsafe levels , has a much more stringent standard for lead and cadmium.  If you’re buying new dishware, choose products that do not carry a Proposition 65 warning label.  As an extra step before purchasing, check with the manufacturer to ensure the product doesn’t exceed Proposition 65 lead and cadmium limits.

Are Your Dishes Safe?

If you can’t determine if your current dishes were tested to meet California Proposition 65 or if they were purchased before the guidelines were published in 1987, you can follow these general guidelines.

  • Plain white dishware is more likely to be free of lead or cadmium.
  • These types of ceramic dishes are more likely to be a source of lead or cadmium:
      • Handmade (unless you can confirm the ingredients and proper firing)
      • Antique
      • Chipped or damaged
      • Ceramics colored red, yellow, or orange
      • Labelled as “Not Food Safe”
      • Ceramics with decorations on top of the glaze or rim
  • You can test for lead using lead test strips.  A negative reading doesn’t guarantee there is no lead, but a positive reading will tell you there is lead.
  • Tamara Rubin of, uses special equipment to test individual products for lead content and reports on her findings. Keep in mind that even if a product tests positive for lead content it does not tell you anything about whether lead will leach out into food.  Properly fired ceramics shouldn’t leach but you may choose to avoid dishware with lead content, particularly if levels are high, as a precautionary measure.





Vinyl Peel Stick Flooring

Question from Echo

II have vinyl peel and stick flooring in three rooms in my house. They are about 3-4 years old. I want to remove or cover them all as I have small children. Do I need to remove it completely and then cover it?  If I cover it with ceramic tile or organic wool carpeting will the toxic voc’s or contaminates still seep through?  One of the floors is in my son’s room so I want it to be completely safe.

Lisa’s Answer

I would remove it because vinyl is one of the most toxic plastics and is likely to have formaldehyde.  Ceramic tile will create more of a barrier that carpet.  It will probably block some of the fumes but I am not aware of any concrete data that will tell you how much it would block.  As you very aptly point out, it is for your young child’s bedroom so all the more reason to take the safest route.

LVP Flooring

Question from Rita

I have asthma and mild copd & shopping forr a 10×10 ktchen floor, probably LVP . Gotnew bedroom carpet 2 years ago and jwas told no
formaldehyde & it’s been fine. Saw not that deep water cleaning which Im scheduling very
soon is the best. The luxury vinyl ;planks are
afordable. I just read all on your web site that
laminate flooring & vinyl not good. I guess I can ask maufacturer at Smartcore, Lowe’s carries this.

Lisa’s Answer

Cali LVP is the only brand of vinyl flooring I recommend.  Andy Pace, from The Green Design Center, has tested many vinyl flooring products that claim to be free of formaldehyde and found that they still emit  this dangerous chemical.  Cali is the exception and the only one he sells.


Question from Sarah

Hi, I am shopping for flooring to do my whole house upstairs and down. Kids rooms as well. I am very sensitive to fumes. We saw an affordable flooring we liked today but it’s an engineered vinyl ? Dynamix Is the company. What to do? Hardwood is so pricey and not durable with 3 children . I feel stuck. Any tips?

Lisa’s Answer

Cali LVP is the only brand of vinyl flooring I recommend.  Andy Pace, from The Green Design Center, has tested many vinyl flooring products that claim to be free of formaldehyde and found that they still emit  this dangerous chemical.  Cali is the exception and the only one he sells.

Pregnant “help” want to confirm mattress selection before buying

Question from Michayla

Hi there! I’m pregnant and we’re wanting to purchase our mattress asap since it will take a month or so to get here once we do. We are looking at the OMI Rossa mattress which is GOLS and greenguard certified. It does have coils and latex. I know Debra has recommended oMI before, but want to make sure these two things are still okay to use. Thank you.

Lisa’s Answer

Is this a crib mattress or one for you?

My top recommendation for mattresses is Naturpedic.  They have a GOTS-certified factory which ensures that no harmful chemicals are used at any stage of production.  For adults, they have a GOLS certified latex mattress without coils, if that is your preference.

OMi is also a very good, safe mattress.

Safe Cookware

Question from  Luuk

I am getting an induction stove.  What, other than cast iron, pots do you recommend?

Lisa’s Answer

There are stainless steel pots that  are made of 430 grade stainless steel which can be used on induction stoves.  The brands made with this steel are noted in my cookware guide.

You can also use carbon steel.

Laundry Stench and Headaches from Laundry

Question from Janet

Is anything being done about the VOC’s from Laundry? When my neighbor does their laundry I get sharp pains in my head, the pressure in my ears is worse than it is on a bad airplane ride. All this research is out there why isn’t anything being done about it?


Lisa’s Answer

There are non-profit organization like the Environmental Working Group that work continuously to lobby for better government regulations of chemicals including those found in household cleaning supplies.  While they are not focused specifically on individual sensitivities to fragrance in products they do work to minimize the use of harmful substances.

Safe Face Mask and Shield

Question from  Liz

I am not supposed to wear a face mask due to a serious medical condition, but my doctor won’t let me in the office without one (not to mention the grocery store). Have you found any masks made with safe material that are easy to breath in? I’ve heard surgical masks are the easiest to breath in (though not designed for protection from viruses) but I’ve read that even some of those are made with toxic materials, plus they used to be restricted to medical professionals. A friend suggested a face shield since they are easier to breath in, but I imagine the plastic in those is toxic.

If you have any research on this, I’d much appreciate hearing it!

Coffee Pods and Pots

Question from Pia

are coffee pods safe to use?
also what is the safest coffee maker ?

Lisa’s Answer

I am not aware of any automatic coffee makers that do not have plastic internal parts.  Here are some safe coffee makers:

Chemex Pour Over Coffee Maker

Stainless Steel French Press

Most pods are made of plastic and heating plastic increases leaching of chemicals.  You can read more here about plastic toxicity.  There are some pods now that claim to be plastic-free and are made of plant-based “biomaterials”.  These are better for the environment and probably less toxic than plastic but we really don’t know exactly what is in them.  Using loose, organic beans is a safer bet.


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