Submitted questions will be posted with my response by the following Tuesday or before.
Submitted comments will be moderated and approved within 24 hours.
Question from Sandy
AFM Safecoat and ECOS paints are both non-toxic and have low odor. I don’t know of any paint that is truly free of any odor until it cures. You might want to try a sample before applying it to a large area.
Question from K
I live in an apartment so I have to bring my wet, snowy and salt filled boots inside from a day in the snow. I have not been able to find a mat that does not smell awful. Any recommendations? Right now I am using a silicone kitchen drying mat but they are so small. Maybe what I am doing is the best idea? I need to find a really large silicone mat then. If using the silicone as I am, no toxins would escape into the air correct? Is there any way to know if the silicone is made out of sand vs. plastics?
Silicone is made out of sand, but like plastic, it can have additives that are not disclosed by the manufacturer. Some silicone may be safer than others. This is a topic I plan to do more research on.
Have you considered a metal tray. Here is one example, but they come in many styles and price points. Just make sure it does not have a finish or coating on it.
Question from Rebecca
I have spent hours & days looking at the items in your site. I am so thankful to have found it & for your work.
I started comparing blenders after I read one of your posts about the blender you use & the ones you recommend. They we’re, KitchenAid, Cuisinart, & Breville, I believe.
I recently found another site which listen an abundance of cookware. I was wondering if you could look over the list & tell me if any of these are suitable as well when it comes to PTFEs & PFOEs.
Mamavation does very thorough research. I agree with their recommendations!
Question from Aileen
Do you have any ideas or resources that would not hurt the budget?
You can find many options on Debra’s List. Buying GOTS certified organic cotton is the best way to ensure that there are no harmful chemicals in the product. Make sure that the entire product, and not just the cover or the fill, are GOTS certified. Oeko Tex certification is not as stringent as GOTS and does allow the use of synthetic fabrics.
I really can’t say for certain whether or not a sensitive individual will react to something because everyone is different. I can tell you whether or not a product is non-toxic.
Readers, any recommendations for those with MCS?
Question from Dsmythe
I recently purchased 100% Cotton GOTS certified (male) socks and underwear from a reputable online retailer.
Unfortunately, these clothes triggered my symptoms severely, and I have no doubt these were the cause of my symptoms.
Even after washing they still triggered me.
Is there any explanation for this?
I really can’t say what will trigger a sensitive individual because everyone is different. GOTS certified organic clothing is non-toxic. Perhaps there is something natural that is a problem for you.
Question from Andi
Any suggestions as to what to use to unclog a kitchen drain? Actually it is not really clogged, but very sluggish. Had someone use a plunger, didn’t help. Then he wanted to use dawn detergent, I said no way, so he used my 7th Generation Dishwashing Liquid – didn’t help and he said to use a cup everyday – outrageously expensive to do that! I did the baking soda, vinegar, boiling water – helped slightly but the guy said don’t use – baking soda just gums it all up. Next thing suggested to snake it – quite expensive. So does anyone know of anything to use down a drain that is scent free and non toxic and that works?
You can get a drain auger that is easy to use and doesn’t require any chemicals.
Question from Mary
I bought a mattress that advertised oeko Tex standard 100 certified. Natural polyol based premium foam. With Visil flame retardant. Once received the tag said 98% polyurethane foam with 2 % blended fiber batting. I contacted company and said foam is derived from vegetable oil. Is this mattress safe from toxins. Should I return. I know companies can be deceiving and bought for my 5 year old.
I agree this is deceiving. If it is 98% polyurethane, that means that it is plastic made from petrochemicals. There may be a small percentage of plant-based material included. It is difficult to say from the limited information on the label. I would return it.
Question from Nancy
I was reading your post on lead in glass ware, you also mentioned Corelle I have a set of dishes and other Corelle pieces, so does it have lead in it ? or is it just drinking glasses, I never knew they made drinking glasses.
Corelle dishes do not release lead into food. The study referenced in the post tested glass ceramic cooking pieces. Corelle is made of glass ceramic. I don’t believe they make glasses.
Question from Steve
Does anyone know what the least toxic fire extinguishers are? I know the foam and chemical residue they leave behind are very toxic and require a severe clean up job. Are there newer safer materials being used. Many fire fighting foams use highly toxic PFAS chemicals.
Also, do extinguishers emit trace amounts of chemicals when stored in homes?
If anyone can recommend a brand available in the U.S. that would be appreciated.
I am not aware of any fire extinguishers that do not use PFAS chemicals. Readers, any suggestions?
I would not expect the chemicals to release from the extinguisher when not in use but I am not aware of any testing that confirms this.
Glass has been used for centuries to store food and is generally considered to be the safest material to store things in. Recently, there has been a lot of questions from readers about whether or not certain kitchen glassware contains lead. Lead is not typically added to glass as an ingredient, except for leaded crystal, which is clearly disclosed on the label. However, lead is everywhere in the environment and any raw material is likely to have some degree of lead contamination.
The first question we need to answer is, how much lead is in different types of kitchen glassware? Then, the more important question is, does the lead migrate (leach) out of the glassware and into your food or drink?
Whenever I attempt to answer a question like this I first look to scientific studies from independent laboratories and research organizations. There are many studies on migration from glass that generally show, with the exception of lead crystal, there is very limited migration of lead or other elements of toxic significance. The most recent and comprehensive assessment is a two year study commissioned by the Food Standard Agency, which is an independent UK Government department tasked with protecting public health and consumers’ interests in food*. The study looks at several different types of glass including:
- Soda Lime Glass Containers (bottles and jars, including colored glass)
- Soda Lime Tableware (drinking glasses and dishes, including colored glass)
- Borosilicate Tableware (European Pyrex bakeware is made of this but U.S. Pyrex is tempered soda lime glass)
- Glass Ceramics (brands such as Vision cookware and Corelle dishware)
- Decorated Glassware
A Note on Recycled Glass
The study speculates that the primary source of lead contamination is from recycled glass. Colored glass, particularly green glass, typically has the highest amount of recycled glass. Glass with a high percentage of recycled glass can have relatively high levels of lead content (some samples had up to 100 parts per million). The study looks specifically at colored glass to see if higher levels of lead content result in higher levels of leaching.
The Results of the Study
Soda Lime Glass
Soda Lime glass is made with three ingredients – sand, lime and soda ash. It’s the most common type of kitchen glassware.
When tested under conditions that replicate normal use, there were no detectable levels of lead migrating from any of the soda lime glass samples. This means that even if the glass contained lead from contamination, it did not leach out into water. This included colored glass and glass with recycled glass content.
When the glass was deeply scratch, to represent extreme use over time, all but one sample had no detectable levels of lead. The one sample that did was made of amber glass which has the second highest level percentage of recycled glass. The lead release from the one sample was still a relatively low level of 0.3 parts per million (ppm). For perspective, the U.S. Office of Health and Hazard Assessment considers lead use in decorations on the lip of glass to be safe below 200 ppm.
When the glass was tested with a highly acidic solution, about one third of the samples had low levels of lead migration that ranged from 0.4 ppm to 1.2 ppm.
Borosilicate glass’ main components are silica, boron trioxide, soda ash and a small percentage of aluminum oxide. It is more heat resistant than soda lime glass and is thought to be more inert. It does not involve recycled glass which prevents contamination. As expected, the borosilicate glass did not show any migration, even when scratched and when tested with an acidic solution.
Like borosilicate glass, the glass ceramicware did not leach detectable levels of lead under any test conditions.
Decorations on glass can have high levels of lead content. When tested under normal conditions, there was no leaching. However, when the decoration came in contact with the acidic solution it showed high levels of leaching, with one sample at 30 ppm lead.
Other Toxic Elements
The study looked at other potentially hazardous elements in addition to lead. Here are some key findings:
- Colorants, such as cobalt used in blue glass, did not leach.
- There was no detectable migration of aluminum from borosilicate glass even though it is an added ingredient in this type of glass.
Glass is generally a good, safe choice for kitchenware. Here are some specific ways to avoid potential exposures.
- Always avoid leaded glassware.
- Always avoid using glassware with decorations that come in contact with food or drink.
- Always avoid glass not designated food safe.
- Avoid, out of an abundance of caution, glass with decorations on the rim or outside.
- When possible, avoid glass with a high percentage of recycled content. (Green glass typically has highest percentage).
- Look for borosilicate glass cookware and drinking glasses.
- Look for glass ceramic cookware (Visions, Corelle) but be aware of the risks of shattering.
- When glassware is deeply scratched, throw it out.
*The study was conducted by Glass Technology Services Ltd, which is an independent laboratory that services the glass industry, among other industries. Any concerns about impartiality are offset by the knowledge that the conclusions are consistent with historical research. The study is beneficial because it provides a broader assessment than other published studies.