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.

Water Bottles for Kids at School

Question from Sarah

Hello! Thanks for your dedication and helpful research. I’ve enjoyed your website for many years. What is the best water bottle to send to school with kids (first grade)? I know that I could send a Life Factory but worried about glass and having it sent home because it is glass.
Any stainless steel ones testing well?

Lisa’s Answer

If your kids do not have a known sensitivity to nickel, I recommend stainless steel when glass isn’t appropriate.  Read this post on stainless steel bottles.  I use Kleen Kanteen when I’m not using glass.  They have a lid that is made of cork and steel.  If a hands-free lids is needed, they have one made of polypropylene.  Make sure you do not use it with fruit juice or anything acidic as it will increase leaching.
Some stainless steel bottles have tested positive for lead but it is not from the bottle itself, but rather from paint on the bottle or a solder point at the bottom of the bottle.  Read more here.

Lacquer Paint

Question from Claudia

I found this website while searching how to remove the smell of lacquer paint from our home. We had our kitchen cabinets recently painted, and I never thought to ask what they would use. The smell was so horrible we had to stay in a hotel for the weekend. When I came back home, there was a layer of colored dust on the floors and counters. I moped it all up and cleaned as good as I could – only to have a sore throat in the morning and a stomach ache. I have 3 kids that sleep upstairs and I’m worried the smell will hard us. I have aired out the house continuously, used air purifiers, placed out activated charcoal….but I’m still worried because the smell is strong. It was a lacquer oil based paint and I regret it all now. My question is, if I try heating the house to 90 degrees, will it still be benifical to do it for say 3 hours a day and then air it out, repeatedly? I only have a few hours a day I can do it during the week with kids naps and school schedules. I appreciate your advice and time. Thank you so much.

Lisa’s Answer

I do not recommend doing a bake out.  Here is a post that explains my position.  I recommend sealing it with a product that is made to seal in chemical off-gassing.  AFM Safecoat makes several products for this purpose.  I’m not sure which one would be best for your application.  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

Colophon in Shoes

Question from Nikolay

Are there any shoes proven free of Colophon?

Lisa’s Answer

I am not familiar with Colophon.  Readers?

Water Repellent Treatment

Question from Anderson

Are the water repellent treatments used on clothing toxic? For example, the “Rain Guard” by Carharrt?  Its described as a DWR durable water repellent. It is  my understanding that it means its probably a fluoropolymer such as the cancer causing class of chemicals used in Teflon and firefighting foam.

Lisa’s Answer

Yes, it probably is a fluoropolymer.  The outdoor industry is working on developing alternative to fluorine-containing finishes but the alternatives are not without risk and require more frequent applications, so a greater amount of chemicals.  Apparently, they also do not work well.  Here is a link about PFCs in the outdoor industry.

Toaster Oven and Air Fryer

Question from Sandee

Are there any toaster oven-air fryer units that you recommend?

Lisa’s Answer

Non-stick coatings are the watch-outs for both of these items.  Waring is one of the few toaster brands  that do not have a non-stick coating.  Even products that claim to be PFOS- and PFOA-free should be avoided because testing has shown that the new chemicals used could be just as dangerous.  I have never looked for, nor used, an air fryer but all of the ones that I found in my quick search had non-stick surfaces.

Are Tetra Paks Non-Toxic?

With fall in full force and Thanksgiving looming on the horizon, I started to stock up on some kitchen staples that I don’t buy at other times of the year.  A favorite is pumpkin puree that comes in a shelf-stable box, which I use to make soup.  During the summer it’s easy to eat mostly fresh food but during the colder months, I admittedly look for a few short cuts.  My pumpkin puree got me thinking about aseptic boxed packing, more commonly known by its brand name, Tetra Pak.

 

I remember when I first started to see items that were typically packaged in aluminum cans cropping up in boxed packaging in the supermarket.  I had sworn off canned food because of concerns about BPA in the lining and was happy to have a safer alternative for the few packaged staples I liked to have on hand.  But my recent pumpkin purchase got me wondering, just how safe are Tetra Paks?

 

Tetra Paks are made with 75% paperboard, 20% polyethylene, and 5% aluminum and the layers are adhered using heat and pressure.  Polyethylene is the only material that comes in contact with food.  Food-grade polyethylene is considered one of the safest plastics but, as I wrote about in this post, even plastics thought to be safe can leach chemicals with estrogenic activity.

 

 

I only found one study that specifically tested Tetra Paks and it concluded that Tetra Paks showed estrogenic contamination similar to that from plastic water bottles.    So, are they any safer than cans?  Cans with BPA lining have been widely tested and are known to leach BPA.  The evidence is clear that they are best avoided.  Read more here about BPA-free cans and why they may not be any safer.  The evidence is not as clear for Tetra Paks, but there is enough to cause concern.  I’ll be keeping my purchases of boxed shelf-stable food to a minimum.  Fortunately, more products are being introduced in glass jars, such as organic diced tomatoes, ready-made soups, and nut milks.  Glass is the safer choice.

IKEA Enameled Pot

Question from Karen

I know that Debra has recommended Le Creuset in  the past and I would love to own one one day, but its just not in the budget for me right now. When I was in Ikea the other day I noticed they have their own enameled steel pot. It says that the materials are just steel and enamel and that there is no lead or cadmium added.
https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/vardagen-pot-with-lid-enamelled-steel-90391122/
Do you think this is a safe alternative or is there more information that I need?

Lisa’s Answer

The lead comes from contamination rather than as an intentionally added ingredient.  I am not aware of any testing done on this item to confirm that it does not leach lead or cadmium.  You can go to tamararubin.com, a blogger who does heavy metal testing, and see if she has information.

Polyester Slip-Covered Chairs

Question from Stacey

I am trying to find affordable, safe, comfortable dining chairs for my family. I see one company makes a slipcovered chair but the slipcover is made of polyester. The foam in the chair is polyurethane and polyester-wrapped.  A customer service rep told me that this company does not add flame retardants to any furniture (Pottery Barn). The slipcovers are washable, which I would wash a couple times before first use. Would you say these chairs are just too toxic and not safe, or would they be okay?

Lisa’s Answer

The foam in the chair is of greater concern than the polyester slipcover.  A chair without flame retardant is safer than the same chair with flame retardant, but there are many other materials of concern.  A sold wood chair with water-based adhesive and finishes is a more cost-efficient and safer bet than one with polyurethane foam.  There are upholstered chairs that are filled with natural latex but they tend to me more expensive.  Here is one I recommend.  You need to chose the Organic Natural latex fill option.

Staub Stoneware

Question from Lisa

Staub is on your list of safe products. But does include their ceramic stone ware rectangular baking dish here?

I read your post about enamel coating- it’s essentially glass sometime mixed with something else.

But this uses “porcelain enamel.” It’s my understanding enamel is as you describe glass based. Porcelain though is clay based. So what is “porcelain enamel.”? Does that meet your safe criteria?

To make it more confusing it’s called “stoneware.” Does that give you an idea what the enamel is coating exactly?

Lisa’s Answer

When buying stoneware the things to watch out for are the clay and lead contamination in the glaze.  I have not seen any testing on this item.  You can call the manufacturer and ask if they have third party testing that shows no lead leaches from their stoneware.

Comfortable Mattress

Question from Karen

I am shopping for a non toxic mattress. Do you have a list of Comfortable mattress that is not drowned in flame retardant ?

Lisa’s Answer

There are many materials to avoid in a mattress in addition to flame retardants.  Start by looking at the mattresses on Debra’s List.  Also, you can type in mattress in the Q&A Super Search, in which many readers have commented on their experiences.  I can guide on the materials but comfort is a personal choice.

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