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

Brooks Adrenaline Sneakers

Question from Mary

I just bought Brooks Adrenaline 19 sneakers.   There is a strong smell in them.  In the past, I was able to wear this type of sneaker.  Do you know what the smell might be?


Lisa’s Answer

Traditional sneakers can have many materials that produce a smell.  I can’t tell specifically what it is.  You can read some recommendations from readers hereas well as safe shoe options from Debra’s List.


Cooking Utensils

Question from Priya

 I always confused which cookware is better to cook.
Clay ,
glazed clay
, iron, steel ,
non stick,
cast iron with enamel,
ceramic (XtremA)or
ceramic coating,
non stick
Oh very confusing .
I want to provide healthy dishes to my family . But cookware takes a big part for healthy dishes making .
Plz suggest me which is best


Lisa’s Answer


I use Xtrema cookware and also use a stainless steel pan to make eggs.  Cast iron is also a good choice.  You can look for safe options from Debra’s List.

Zwilling Fry Pan

Question from Sandee

Is the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Energy Plus fry pan (with glass lid) safe to use?  It has a ceramic nonstick PTFE- and PFOA-free coating called CeraForce Xtreme. Thank you!


Lisa’s Answer


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.  I can’t say for certain that these pans use this coating, but I would avoid all ceramic coatings as a precautionary measure.



Question from Sharon

After looking at your site and comments and several green building sites, I used Novalink 35 to seal the area between the tile and tub in both of my daughter’s rooms. I didn’t go with the AFM Caulk because I noticed you said you didn’t like it very much and I’m sensitive to smell. The VOC content in both products was listed as the same on many sites. However, there was still a smell today, so I called the company to ask if it was any different than the Novalink SL which I had used in the past. The man yelled at me and said, “NONE of our products are meant to be used in side. They can grow mold and…” I asked if it was a performance reason or a health reason and he just repeated what he said without answering. I don’t care about the performance. Could you please tell me if the reason is a health issue? I will rip it up and pay to buy the AFM one.



Lisa’s Answer


Both Novalink 35 and AFM Safecoat caulk have very low levels of VOCs and are solvent-free.  I personally use AFM Safecoat but they are comparable products.  Even products with low VOCs can have an odor.  For those who are sensitive, it is always a good idea to test a product before using it.

Jelly Bean Rubber Mulch for Swingset

Question from Miriam

We’re planning on getting a swingset for our kids and I’d like to install something soft underneath.  This looks to be a good option but I’m not sure of the toxicity of it.  Does this seem safe to you?



Lisa’s Answer


They are made from the same material used to make tiles for schools, and hospitals.  They pass California standards for indoor air quality so they emit a low level of VOCs but that doesn’t mean they don’t emit any VOCs.  This is probably safer than recycled tires but it is still petroleum-based plastic.  Because the tiles are recycled, it may not even be known what ingredients were used in the original product.  You might want to ask if the material contains phthalates or lead which would not be measured in air quality testing.  Also, keep in mind that these will be exposed to sun and humidity which will only increase off-gassing.

While they may be safer than recycled tires, I would go with untreated wood chips.

Indoor Air Quality is More Important Than Ever

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

Covid-19 is a respiratory disease that affects your lungs so now is a good time to be thinking about keeping your lungs, and your overall health, as strong as possible.  According to the American Lung Association, air pollution can make the COVID-19 pandemic worse. Since it is a disease affecting the lungs, people who live in places with more air pollution could be more vulnerable.


In normal times, indoor air pollution can be 2 to 5 times greater than outdoor pollution.  There are new factors, related to the pandemic, that may be making indoor air pollution levels even higher and our exposure greater.

  • Most of us are spending more time than ever indoors.
  • As disinfecting is an important defense against the virus, people may be using products with more toxic ingredients than they would normally use.
  • We are cooking more meals at home which creates harmful fumes and particles that need to be properly ventilated.


Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve your air quality and keep yourself well.

  • Open your windows, often.

Outdoor air pollution levels have improved dramatically in China as a result of restricted activities indicating that air in the U.S. may also be improving.  Opening your windows will let the cleaner air in.

  • Keep the house clean.

Household dust is full of toxic chemicals as well as allergens and other harmful particles.  Pick up dust with a damp cloth and use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

  • Use proper ventilation when cooking.

Cooking is a major source of poor indoor air quality.  Proper ventilation is critical, particularly if you are cooking with gas.  If you don’t have a range hood that vents to the outside, open your windows while cooking.  If your range hood doesn’t extend over your front burners, make sure to cook on your back burners.  Also, clean up any food particles on the burners because as they burn, they can release toxic by-products into the air.

  • Change your filters.

If your air filter from your HVAC system is clogged it can recirculate dust, mold and particles back into your air.

  • Invest in an Air Purifier.

Check out Debra’s List for recommended air purifiers.  I am working on updating this and developing a buying guide that I will post soon.

Looking for a Table for Kids

Question from Miriam

Looking for a table for our locked-down kiddos to learn!  Does this look ok?  not sure what the finish is:

One reviewer commented: “Super sturdy, heavy, solidly built table, with extra smooth silky table top (without a trace of any finish odor, which gives us peace-of-mind). ”

wanted to add to the question I just submitted and ask if either of these would be a better choice:
The 2nd has clear acrylic lacquer.  Do you know if AFM SafeSeal can be used on something like that?



Lisa’s Answer


I reached out to ECR4Kids to try to find out what finish they use and if they use adhesive but have not heard back.  You could absolutely use AFM SafeSeal on this!  That would be a very good option.  I would do this over either of the IKEA options.

The IKEA Mammut is made of polypropylene, which is typically a safer plastic.  However, as I discuss in this post, it is very difficult to know what additives are used in the plastic.  These additives are often more hazardous than the plastic.

The IKEA Ypperlig has even more materials of concern.  The top is made of particleboard, ash veneer, fiberboard, solid birch with a clear lacquer.  IKEA strives to use lower levels of chemicals in their products but they do use chemicals.  Particleboard and fiberboard often contain formaldehyde.  Veneers use adhesive which off-gas.  The lacquer could also off-gas.  It has many more potential sources of chemicals than the solid wood table.

Prop 65 Warning on Appliances

Question from Tammy

I have done extensive research on the Proposition 65 Warning on the Kitchen Aid Range, Dishwasher, Microwave, Refrigerator and Maytag Washer and Dryer we recently purchased for our new home. I see that you’ve looked into this extensively. I have received mostly cut and paste responses. A customer service representative with Whirlpool indicated that “there may be exposure to freon if you mess with the sealed system in the fridge” and “there is also oil in the washing machines”. She also indicated that “as long as you don’t self repair you will have no issues”. She said that there is”no exposure in the plastics or water”. They indicate that the warning refers to the inner components of the appliances. Is this your understanding with home appliances? This Prop 65 Warning appears to be on most if not all home appliances (Range, Dishwasher, Microwave, Refrigerator, Washer and Dryer). I would greatly appreciate your insight/knowledge.



Lisa’s Answer


You have done a good job researching!  It has been my finding as well that many of the warnings for appliances pertain to components or materials that the consumer does not come in contact with during normal usage.  This is a problem with Proposition 65.  In many instances, It does not disclose enough information to be useful.  I do recommending calling the manufacturer for any item that carries the label before you purchase the it.  Try to ascertain, as you did, what the material is that necessitates the warning, where is it used in the product, and how is the consumer exposed to it.  Unfortunately, manufactures are not required to disclose this and many times customer service representatives do not know the answer.

Lodge Cast Iron

Question from Emma

i am trying to click on the entry regarding Lodge cast iron skillets, but it doesnt redirect me to more info. what do i need to do.? i saw another entry about cast iron being: PTFE/PFOA/PFOS
free….and i am guessing that s what i need to ascertain about the Lodge cast iron skillet?



Lisa’s Answer

Lodge cast iron is generally safe to use.  They are free of PTFE/PFOA/PFOS and do not have a coating. They do releasing iron which has many important functions in the human body.  You can, however, get too much iron.  If you use cast iron, you may want to rotate it with other types of cookware to avoid getting too much iron.

Lodge also sells ceramic-enameled cast iron.  I don’t recommend this type of cookware.  There is emerging data that shows that quasi ceramic coating releases nanoparticles into food.  You can read more about it here.



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