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Duraflame Vs. Natural Wood

Question from Ted

My daughter just bought a house and she was questioning the dura- flame logs versus natural wood. Which is more toxic.? They have a four-month-old baby and she’s concerned about the toxicity.


Lisa’s Answer

Surprisingly, independent test results show Duraflame burns cleaner than natural wood.  They are made of compressed wood, plant and vegetable wax and natural fibers.  They should be fine to use occasionally, but burning either engineered logs or natural wood gives off toxic combustion by-products and contributes to indoor air pollution.  Good ventilation is important to carry the toxic gases and particles out of the house.

Is Your Tap Water Safe?

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

This past summer I wrote a post about PFAS chemicals in farm produce.  The source of the chemicals was from ground water that had been contaminated from firefighter foam used primarily on military bases.  At the time, the contaminated ground water seemed relatively contained to areas in close proximity to military bases.  Now, EWG has updated their database and it shows PFAS contamination of tap water in almost 1400 sites in 49 states.  This is impacting up to 110 million Americans.


As a resident of New Jersey, I was shocked to learn that over 500 water sources in my state are contaminated.  I went back onto the updated EWG interactive map and found that, sure enough, my town is one of those sites.  While there is no federal standard for PFAS chemicals in drinking water, studies estimate the safe level at 1ppt (part per trillion).  My town has 8 times that amount and one site in New Jersey exceeds that amount by more than 200,000.


According to EWG, even very low doses of PFAS chemicals in drinking water have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, reproductive and immune system harm, liver and thyroid disease, and other health problems.


What You Can Do

  1. Find your municipality on the EWG PFAS Contamination Map to see if your water supply in impacted.  You can also check to see if there are other contaminants in your tap water.
  2. Contact your local government to ask questions and demand answers.  Learn more here.
  3. If you don’t already have a water filter, invest in one that filters out the specific contaminants found in your local water.  I believe the best water filter on the market is PureEffect, which removes a broad range of toxic pollutants, adjusts the quality of the water, and is made with non-toxic materials.  PureEffect has recently discontinued its whole-house filter but you can meet most of your needs with their Undercounter or Countertop model and their shower filters for a lot less money than the whole-house system.  For those of you still interested in a whole-house system I will be looking into other options now that PureEffect does not offer one.
  4. If a comprehensive system like PureEffect is not affordable, purchase a carbon-filter pitcher.  While they do not remove a full range of pollutants, some do filter out PFAS chemicals.


After the holidays, I will contact my local government to find out what they plan to do to address the contamination of our water supply.  I will keep you posted on my progress.  Please share your stories if you find successful ways to encourage local authorities to take action.


Versatile Almond Cookie Recipe Will Let you Make Almost Any Holiday Cookie You Love Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, and Dairy-Free


I know many of you reading this have enjoyed my holiday cookies recipes in the past in my food blogs.

This year I don’t have a food blog, but I will be launching a new food blog in January. It’s called Wholefood Cuisine, and all the recipes will be made with whole foods, like this almond cookie recipe. If you want to be notified when it goes live, you can subscribe here to the Wholefood Cuisine newsletter list.

This amazing almond cookie recipe is so versatile it can be made into almost any type of cookie that you like. In the photo, I’ve made it into thumbprint cookies filled with organic raspberry fruit spread and sprinkled with organic coconut for a winter holidays cookie. But you can also make bar cookies, cutouts, or any shape you want.
I call them AAA Almond Cookies because they are made with almond butter, almond flour, almond extract and sweetener. It’s almost like just eating almonds.
There are so many possibilities for making these cookies. Each type of sweetener—honey, agave, maple syrup, yacon syrup) has it’s own distinct flavor. You can add any type of nuts or seeds to the batter. You can add any flavor of extract. You can add any herbs or spices or candied citrus rind. You could make anything from a delicate aniseed cookie with agave and anise extract and agave to a rich gingerbread with yacon syrup and all the gingerbread spices.
NOTE: Wherever possible, please use organically-grown ingredients.
AAA Almond Cookies
Makes about 16 cookies
1/2 cup almond butter
2 cups almond flour
6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) liquid sweetener, such as honey, agave, maple syrup or yacon syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the almond butter in a bowl and mix with a fork or mixer to soften. (If you opened the jar and the almond butter had separated, mix the oil back together with the butter and then measure.)
  3. Add the almond flour, sweetener, and extracts and mix thoroughly.
  4. Place parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet on a baking sheet. If you want, you can roll this dough between two pieces of parchment paper to 1/4″ – 1/2″ thick and cut with decorative cookie cutters. Or, you can just put all the dough on the baking sheet, pat it down to about 1/4″ – 1/2″ thick and then cut squares with a dull table knife. Or roll into balls and make thumbprint cookies. Either way, take the cut pieces and spread them out across the baking sheet, about 1/2″ apart. They WILL spread.
  5. Bake 10-15 minutes, until golden brown and set. Cookies will crisp as they cool.
  6. Allow cookies to cool and store in an airtight container.

For crisper, harder cookies, bake them longer at a lower temperature.

Debra Lynn Dadd
new website on life beyond industrialization:


Question from Sandi

I can’t find a radiant heater that doesn’t smell& also have small duraflame which only supposed to smell at first but I still smell have sinus issues & allergies bad headaches t,nausea wondering if from fumes & if toxic?I need heat for bedroom. I’ve googled and called companies with no good answers,all say fumes will go away ,keep looking & when find rated good one,it will have proposition 65Thanks


Lisa’s Answer

Here are a few recommended in these posts:
The Prop 65 label can be misleading.  It does not necessarily mean that it contains a chemical that you are exposed to.  For example, it sometime refers to lead in appliance cords that you are not in regular contact with.  If you find a heater you like, call the manufacturer and see if they can tell you what chemical requires the Prop 65 warning and where it is used in the heater.  That may give you a better idea of the risk.

Non-Toxic Sofa

Question from Stacey

I am trying to find safe/safer, affordable furniture. I see one popular store (Crate and Barrel) makes a sofa that has “soy-based polyfoam” cushions, “wrapped in fiber-down blend and recycled fiber, encased in downproof ticking.” There are also springs in the sofa.
What do you think about this sofa? Is it better than most or would you completely avoid it?


Lisa’s Answer

Since 2015 all of Crate and Barrel’s sofas are made without chemical flame retardants.  That eliminates the most concerning of chemicals, but there are plenty of others to watch out for.  I’m not sure which sofa from Crate and Barrel you are looking at but the ones I looked at have regular polyurethane foam cushions that are wrapped in a cushion that is part soy and part polyurethane.  It is still mostly polyurethane so I’m not sure how much better it is than a conventional sofa.  PU foam, even if it is not bathed in flame retardants, can emit VOCs.  Other things to look out for are chemical treatments on the fabrics such as Scotchguard or “stain resistant’ features.  Glues and adhesives can be other sources of emissions.  So, this is a better couch than one made with flame retardants but it still may have other sources of harmful emissions.
Unfortunately, totally non-toxic sofas are pricey.  My favorite is from Medley, formally called Stem.  It is made with natural latex fill, non-toxic glues and adhesives, and organic natural fabrics.  Take a look at Debra’s List for other options.

Wool Blanket Marked “Mothproof”

Question from Eugenia

bot in thrift store.
label states:

65% new wool
35% reprocessed wool

looks in good condition  – cant judge age of blanket – has one small tear on an edge.

I want to cut it  up for mini blankets to put in Catio (indoor/outdoor)  cat beds for extra warmth this winter .

Should I wash it first (& with what?) or might it be safe for cats as is?

My research does show blankets can be washed with Woolite and rinsed with white vinegar.

But nowhere does it say it might be a problem for warm cat  or dog beds.  Also my daughter buys wool sweaters etc at thrift stores for catsbeds for the Hobo cats shelters and her indoor cats too.  (She lives in cold mountain area.)   We always washed first.


Lisa’s Answer

Pesticides can be applied to wool for mothproofing.  There are several commercial mothproofing chemicals available but most have low toxicity.  Read more here.  They are designed so that they do not wash out but if they are many years old it is likely that they have diminished.

Safe Bakeware

Question from Reenie

My niece wants to buy her mom new cake baking pans.  She wants to buy some sort of coated copper bakewear. Is there some writeup in Q & A that you could point me to that reviews best green bake ware.  Thank you!


Lisa’s Answer

There are several types of bakeware listed in Debra’s List.  I personally bake with Graniteware and Pyrex glassware.

Elevated VOCs

Question from Kristen

We have lived in our home for 10 years. My daughter is now 18 and her health has steadily and drastically gone downhill over the same time period. She has been seen by every specialist you can think of but they’ve all been stumped. It recently occurred to me that maybe our house was the problem so I bought an air quality test on Amazon. The report came back that we have very elevated levels of VOCs, particularly those from flooring, coating and cabinets. We never open windows due to allergies, which now seems like a bad idea.  I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start to eliminate these VOCs as quickly as possible. I did buy a couple Vornado air purifiers to get started. Specific advice or steps to take would be most welcome. My poor daughter has missed all of high school (had to actually drop out) and most of the past 10 years.  I’m pretty desperate to help her. Thank you.


Lisa’s Answer

I’m sorry it has been such a struggle.  It sounds like you need a great deal of help.  I recommend you contact Debra for a paid consultation or reach out to an indoor air quality specialist who can better pinpoint where the sources of emissions are in your home.

Safe Toys

Question from Shelley

I would like to get some Peppa Pig play sets for my granddaughter. I wrote to the company about materials, and this is the response I got:
“Thank you for contacting Jazwares LLC and for your interest in our products.  All of our toys comply with CPSA standards as required by law.  We also have the COC (Certificate of Compliance) Tests results posted on our website  You do have to have an item number to check the COC on that item.  Having said that, I hope this helps and answers your questions.”
I’m not sure what this means, and I’d love your perspective on their toys.  Thank you in advance.


Lisa’s Answer

The company is in compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act for children’s products, which limits phthalates and lead, and provides other safety guidelines.  This does not necessarily mean that the toys are totally free of lead and phthalates but rather that they fall below the limits set by CPSIA.  Jazwares provides documentation of compliance but does not disclose the materials in the toys.  They look to be made of plastic.
There are clearly more natural toys on the market but I can’t really tell you more about this item without more information.  I contacted them and they repeatedly sent me back to the website which only shows the documented compliance with government regulations.


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