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Choosing a Toxic-Free Range


Question from Andie

Hi Debra,

So grateful for you and loving your new website! Congrats!

My question: we desperately need a new oven and don’t know what to do!

Is it safer for us to purchase a floor model, that’s been sitting in an open room for a time? Or will it still outgas when it’s home and used for the first time(s)?

Really do not know what to do about ovens and this issue. Thank you!

Debra’s Answer

I wish I could just tell you to go purchase a certain brand but haven’t found one yet that has been designed to be toxic-free. This is one of those items where I need to educate the industry. That’s part of why I’m establishing my Zero Toxics website.

The last time I purchased a stove, I purchased a floor model at Lowe’s. And it was fine.

The last time I purchased a refrigerator was at a Sears Appliance Outlet. Just type that into your favorite search engine and your local outlet will come up. Also try Sears Scratch and Dent Appliances.

These appliances have been returned or refurbished or scratched during shipping. They all work just fine but have minor imperfections. I bought my last washer/dryer at a Sear Appliance Outlet store too.

So that would be the first place I would go.

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Fruit & Vegetable Wash Safe?

Question from LM

Hi Debra,

I buy organic produce but I still feel like I have to wash it. Are the “non-toxic” fruit and vegetable washes safe? I’m reading the ingredients for a popular one by ECOS that sells at my local food co-op and the ingredients are:

  • Water
  • Alcohol Denatured. (corn-derived solvent)\
  • Decyl Glucoside (plant-powered surfactant)
  • Potassium Sorbate (food grade preservative)
  • Citric Acid (plant-powered pH adjuster)

Comments? Thanks Debra!

Debra’s Answer

I can’t make a case for this product being “toxic.” It certainly doesn’t contain any of the major chemicals of concern. So in that sense I would have to call it toxic-free.

But here’s my concern. It’s basically an industrial product made from industrial ingredients. Yes the source material for these ingredients are plants, and they appear to be organic (at least there is an organic logo on the label, though nothing says “organic” in the ingredients list.

So these plants are put into a factory and broken down in some way into industrial ingredients that are then combined in a factory into a wash that you are going to push on your organic vegetables and fruits.

Just look at this for a moment. You’ve purchase organic produce. Now you are going to clean it with industrial ingredients. The first ingredient is water. Hmmmm. What kind of water. Probably tap water. If you are buying organic produce you probably are using filtered water. We don’t know what their water is. They are not telling us.

Is this really a necessary product? What is it that you want to remove from your organic produce with this product?

I just rinse my organic produce with filtered water. I’ve never used produce washes and don’t find them necessary.

UPDATE 3/17/19

I just found a very long list of certified biobasaed fruit and vegetable washes.

If this is a product you are interested in, this list would be a good place to compare what percentage of their ingredients are not petroleum.

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Aura Air


Question from Catherine

Hi Debra,

This product says “The World’s First Total Air Solution. Detect pollutants then clean them right up.

What do you think of it?

Debra’s Answer

I’ve been studying and reviewing air filters for forty years and I just want to say that this is an interesting piece of marketing but it won’t clean your air.

It’s a Kickstarter campaign, not for sale yet.

There just is not enough carbon in this filter to remove much of anything. It might work well enough for a day or a week but if you really need to remove pollutants, this is not a dedicated air filter.

Please consider the EnviroKlenz Mobile which uses more advanced technology that actually breaks apart toxic chemical molecules, and has enough filter media for enough contact time to make a difference.

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Root canal vs implant vs excision & bridge for MCS


Question from Colleen

Hi Debra,

Does anyone have experience with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and having a dental implant, root canal or excision and bridge put in. These are my 3 choices. Any thoughts or suggestions? What procedure did you choose, why, pros, cons,did you have the procedure in the oral surgeons office, any complications during or after the procedure, complications of the root canal, implant or bridge?

Thank you for all your help.

Debra’s Answer

Readers? What is your experience?

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Toxic-Free Living as an Act of Love

In 2015 I was invited to speak at a summit called Self-Love Revolution. Of course, I spoke on the subject of Toxic Free Living as an Act of Love.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day this week, I thought I would offer you the giveaway as a Valentine’s gift.

I hadn’t read it since then, but I loved reading it just now. It warmed my heart and I want to share it with you.

Here is an excerpt from the ebook.


What Self-Love Means to Me

I want to tell you a story about something that laid the foundation for me about what love is. It happened many years ago, in 1985, when I was 29 years old. It was one year after my first book about toxics in consumer products was published—actually it was the first book about consumer products ever published.

Now I have to correct this story. I told it one way in the Self Love Revolution Summit interview, but as I am working on this giveaway, I am realizing some of the detailed were incorrect in my memory that day.

I was living in San Francisco at the time, not Marin County, and I decided to go for a drive. Some days, you know, you just feel like you just have to take the day off. And I got into my sporty little Volkswagon GTI and I just started driving.

I drove north over the Golden Gate Bridge and just started driving the backroads up into Sonoma County where they all have the vineyards, and I ended up in a little bookstore. As I was looking at books in the bookstore, a book fell off the shelf into my hand. It fell off the shelf into my hand, honestly.

The book was The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. And I bought it. I thought, “If the book is going to fall off the shelf into my hand, I better buy it and I better read it.”

I just want to share a little portion of the book to you because it touched my heart. And here it is:

When we love something, it is of value to us. And when something is a value to us, we spend time with it, time enjoying it and time taking care of it.”

Observe a teenager in love with his car and note the time he would spend admiring it, polishing it, repairing it, tuning it. Or an older person with a beloved rose garden and the time spent pruning and mulching and fertilizing and studying it.”

When we love, our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion, through the fact that for that loved one, we take an extra step or walk an extra mile.”

Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful.

I have probably read this a hundred times in my life. I always come back to this. The book is still available. It’s such a beloved book. It’s a classic book.

I had never heard anything like this before. I always thought love was romantic. It’s what you see in the movies and it happens between a man and a woman or a mother and a child or something. But this was such a universal definition that it’s like . . . when you really love, when you truly, deeply love, it sparks you to want to care for that which you love.

And so if you don’t love yourself, you won’t take care of yourself. It’s really love that is the motivating thing within you that makes you want to be the best that you can be, to make you want to take care of your body, to make you want to do all those self-exploration things, to find out who you are and how you can be a better person. It comes from love. And we all have that. And so health comes from loving yourself and taking care of yourself is the result.

You feel better and then you get reinforced and you want to continue to do the actions once you start taking them.



It turns out that love has many health benefits, including:

* longer life
* fewer colds & flu
* better blood pressure
* healthier eating habits
* better stress management
* less depression
* less pain
* faster healing

And more…

Here are some articles with more information on love and health:

THE GOOD INSIDE: 5 Surprising Health Benefits of Love

WEB MD: 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Love

NATURAL HEALERS: 11 Unexpected Health Benefits of Love

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New Survey Asks California Women About Consumer Product Use to Determine Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

A new study is looking to survey about six hundred women across California about their use of consumer products “to better learn the types of products women use, how often women use them, and how women choose the products they use. This information will help us understand exposures to chemicals in consumer products.

Responses will be used to help the State of California learn how to protect people’s health.

If you live in California and would like to participate in the survey, click here.

I just took it myself. Just taking the survey actually made me more aware of what I use and don’t use. They also ask question about things like what you look for in making your product choices, which gives you an opportunity to look at that too. They included “scent” as a reason you would purchase but not “unscented.” I typed in unscented because I think they will consider “scent” to mean because you want scent, not scent/unscented as an issue. Ah later they ask if the personal care products you use are scented, fragrance-free, or not sure.

They also ask where you purchase your products (natural food store wasn’t included but there was a space where I could type it in).

Doing this survey really showed me how few products I actually use and also showed me how many products-of-concern there are.

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Call to Action: New Fragrance-Free Campaign


A few years ago I was interested in doing a fragrance-free camping to raise awareness of fragrance issue and provide resources for people to easily eliminate fragrance from their lives. At the time, I wasn’t able to make that happen because there were other things going on in my life, but I also didn’t have the structure set up to be able to put the necessary information together.

Now with my new Zero Toxics website, I can collect and organize the substantiating documents needed to make a difference. And this past week two things happened that really made me want to make an impact in the world about fragrance.

Scent at the Laundromat

I’ve spent the last forty years living primarily in homes of my own, where I’ve created toxic-free environments down to every detail. But in September 2017 I left my “clean house” to move to California and live with my beloved Larry and his family while we make it possible for his 87-year-old mother to continue to live at home.

This has been a challenge for me in terms of chemical exposures. While I’ve made my needs known and they try to accommodate me, sometimes things happen that just wouldn’t have happened if I were in my own home.

Last week the clothes washer broke down. I was part-way through my laundry and needed to finish. Days were going by before we could get a repair man out, so i made a decision against my better judgement to take my clothes to a laundromat. Laundromats are chancy. I use them only as a last resort. I’ve used them in the past with no problem, but this week the machines I used had some kind of scent that has just been sticking to my clothing.

I have about six loads of laundry that has been contaminated with scent. Slowly I am rescuing my clothes by washing them over and over with EnviroKlenz Laundry Enhancer. Three washes seems to do it, but it’s taken a lot of time, especially since I’m not the only one in this household doing laundry.

But the point is we shouldn’t have to do this. I should be able to do a basic thing like wash my clothes without contaminating them. I think there should be laws that only unscented detergent can be used in laundromats. It should be sold in laundromats instead of scented detergents.

In my household I did get everyone to use unscented All free & Clear . So I don’t have this problem at home. But go out in the world and it’s everywhere.

Scent at the Heart Rehab Exercise Program

Also during the same time period Larry started a heart rehab exercise program as part of his heart attack recovery. Of course I have to go with him, and I’ve decided to exercise with him to protect my own heart.

But the place is full of scent—from coaches and clients wearing scent or using scented products on their bodies and to launder their clothing, to air fresheners and scented soap and scented toilet paper in the bathroom.

I was standing in the scented bathroom yesterday wanting some piece of paper to give them that explains the problem and tells them how to create a fragrance-free facility. I see signs in doctor’s offices around here that say “this is a fragrance-free office” but when I ask them what that means, they don’t know. They can’t tell me what to do as a patient to comply.

This is a lack of awareness, information, and training problem. There IS something we can do about this.

Putting Together a Fragrance-Free Campaign

To really put together an effective campaign I need several things.

  1. I need to know what YOU need and want. If you could wave your magic wand, how would you change things with regard to fragrance? What would the end result be? What are we wanting to accomplish?
  2. I need to define the problem. What types of fragrances need to be eliminated and in what products are they found?
  3. we need language and symbols with which to communicate. “Fragrance-free’ means different things to different people. Fragrances affect different people in different ways. Particularly we all need to know the terms being used and use them consistently and encourage their use.

I’m happy to put all this together to make an understandable and well-documented presentation, and at that point, I’l need you all to spread the word.

At the moment what I need and want is

  • to know your thoughts on what you think needs to be done
  • would you be interested in working with me to put this campaign together

I’m going to be setting up a section on Zero Toxics for this and will be working on it as an open project where you will be able to contribute ideas and feedback.

Today I just wanted to tell you this issue has escalated for me in the past few days from wanting to make an icon for fragrance-free products on Debra’s List so launching a campaign for widespread change.

Especially I want to hear from you if fragrance is a major issue for you and the problems you encounter finding products or getting others to live fragrance-free.

Also please post as a comment any fragrance-free products that you’ve used and are tried-and-true, and any organizations, facebook groups, etc that are addressing fragrance. I want to get this ALL together in one place.

Let’s start right now, right here.

Some existing resources (feel free to comment here on anything in these posts you agree with or disagree with).

MOM GOES GREEN: “Unscented” vs. “Fragrance-free”: KNOW the difference


EPA.GO : Safer Choice Fact Sheet – Fragrance-Free – EPA

PAULA’S CHOICE: Why Fragrance-Free Products are Best for Everyone | Paula’s Choice

SEED BODY CARE: The Important Difference Between Unscented and Fragrance Free

MUSTELA: Fragrance-Free vs. Unscented Products: What You Need To Know

MADE SAFE: Certified Fragrance-Free Products + Your Fragrance

THINK BEFORE YOU STINK: How To Go Fragrance-Free

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Least Toxic Spray Foam Insulation?

Question from Lora

Hi Debra,

What would be the least toxic whole house spray foams to use for insulation. the type you would spray in your exterior walls (and interior?). the type that expand when you spray in walls. my husband just wants to get something from home depot or lowes and i’m really stressing about this and possible off-gassing for years as i have MCS.

What should I use?

Debra’s Answer

Here are some answers to your question that I found online, written by green building experts.

BUILD DIRECT: Is There an Eco-Friendly Spray Foam Insulation?

This post pretty much answers the question with a well-explained NO. However another expert has a different viewpoint

GREEN BUILDING ADVISOR: Are There any “Green” Non-VOC Spray Foams?

This expert asserts that the finished, cured spray foam is NOT harmful to health but the installation of the foam is hazardous. And she admits that some foam is incorrectly installed and therein lies the problem.


Here you will find all the Zero VOC options, both blow-in and batt. Great review with the pros and cons of fifteen options. I think you’ll find your answer here.

That said, readers, if you have any suggestions from your own experience, please post them here.

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Lead-free door knobs

Question from Terry

Hi Debra,

Do lead free door knobs exist?

Debra’s Answer

This is a very difficult question.

To answer this question thoroughly you would need to know:
* the types of doorknobs available
* the materials used to make each type

And then you would need to review each one and choose those that are not made with lead.

Alternatively, you could test each doorknob for lead using an XRF machine.

But neither of these methods are practical.

There are thousands of available doorknobs, and materials disclosure is not required by law.

One man tested all his doorknobs for lead using XRF. After finding out they all tested high, it turned our they were plated with nickel. “The XRF analyzer was seeing through this layer to the lead beneath. Likely this lead would never transfer to our hands, unless the nickel wears through.”

And even if the lead DID get on your hands lead does not go through skin into your body.

BUT if you were to touch a doorknob with lead and then you picked up a sandwich, the lead would get on the sandwich. If you then ate the sandwich, the lead on the sandwich would get into your body and you would have a lead exposure.

So that would be the exposure. You would touch something that contains lead, like a doorknob, then eat some fried chicken and lick your fingers and then you would be exposed to lead.

There’s a great website called “How Products are Made”, which gives the history, materials and manufacturing information on a wide variety of products we use every day. I looked up Doorknob. In the past, doorknobs were made from wood, glass, china, or bronze. Today more doorknobs are made of metal. The most common type of metal is brass. But we don’t touch the brass—doorknobs are coated with various inert metals and electroplated with semiprecious materials.

I could find only one article that expressed any concern about Lead in doorknobs:

And only one website that sells “Lead-free” door knobs. Even though one blogger stated, “lead-free door knobs are readily available,” I couldn’t find them anywhere else but here.

In the forty years I’ve been researching things toxic and toxic-free this is the first time it has come up as an issue. I always just buy whatever doorknobs I like. It’s not the greatest exposure to lead.

Wash your hands before you eat (as you should do anyway because of germs) and any lead your hands may have picked up along the way will be gone.


PureBodyx2-214x300We touch many doorknobs as we go throughout our day, so even if you found and installed lead-free doorknobs in your home, you would still be exposed to any lead that might be on other doorknobs beyond your control.

Once heavy metals enter your body, it is very difficult for your body to remove them.

That’s why I take PureBody Liquid Zeolite every day. This natural mineral is uniquely suited to remove heavy metals. Tiny bits of negatively-charged zeolite act like little magnets to attract positively-charged particles—which include 99.9% of heavy metals, radiation, and organic chemicals–so they can be removed from your body via your kidneys. It’s simple, effective, and affordable.

Learn more about PureBody Liquid Zeolite here…

New Study Finds Toxic Nonstick Chemicals in Oral B Dental Floss

A new study from the Silent Spring Institute and Public Health Institute found higher levels of PFHxS (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid), a PFAS, in women who flossed with Oral-B Glide compared to those who didn’t. Other brands of floss may also use these chemicals (which may or may not appear on the label).

PFAs health effects.

“This is the first study to show that using dental floss containing PFAS is associated with a higher body burden of these toxic chemicals,” lead author Katie Boronow, a scientist at Silent Spring.

My interest in this study is it shows that even small exposures to toxic chemicals not only can but DO end up in bodies in measurable amounts.

Last year the State of Washington and the City of San Francisco banned use of PFAs in single use food service ware.

USA TODAY: Oral-B Glide Floss Tied to Potentially Toxic PFAS chemicals, Study Suggests

JOURNAL OF EXPOSURE SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENTAL EPIDEMIOLOGY: Serum concentrations of PFASs and exposure-related behaviors in African American and non-Hispanic white women

HEALTHLINE: Is Oral-B Dental Floss Really Toxic? What You Need to Know

Toxic-Free Dental Floss

After posting this story last week, I received so many questions about toxic-free dental floss I thought I would just add some comments about this to this post. Also read my responses in the comments below.

First I just want to say that dental floss is not one of your greatest exposures to toxic chemicals. It’s not a product I’ve focused on in the past.

Note in the comments below one reader wrote it saying she had contacted P+G, who sent her a document that shows PFAs are NOT an ingredient in their Glide dental floss. The study did not even look at the ingredients in the product. It was rather a study that showed that select group of people who had PFAs in their body used Glide dental floss. So we can’t say that there are PFAs in Glide dental floss.

But if you are concerned about this possible exposure, let me give you my thoughts about products that are unlikely to contain PFAs or any other industrial chemicals as ingredients.

Rather than simply give you a list, I want to show you my process of how I came up with this list.

First I went to my new Zero Toxics Products + Materials Matrix. Even though I haven’t written the ratings specifically for dental floss yet, these ratings do show how I think about products and how I quickly evaluate products that are likely to be toxic-free.

Here are quick notes of what the ratings would be for dental floss:

Dental floss made from certified organic product where all materials and the manufacturing facility and process are certified organic.

Dental floss made from certified organic or sustainable materials that come from renewable plants or animals, or abundant minerals.

Dental floss made from renewable plants or animals, or abundant minerals. Toxic chemicals may be used to some degree in production or processing. May contain residues of toxic contaminants such as pesticides or pollutants.

Dental floss made from petroleum-based ingredients. May not be suitable for people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities or other high-risk groups.

Known to cause illness or injury with repeated exposure over time—products or materials made with one or more chemicals of concern.

Known to cause immediate harm and may even lead to death—made with one or more chemicals of concern

Here are some dental flosses I looked at, with their Zero Toxics Matrix ratings and materials given in their descriptions:

B – Eco-Dent Gentlefloss Premium Dental Floss, Mint
100% vegan waxed, no information on material used for floss itself

B – Dental Lace | Silk Dental Floss with Natural Mint Flavoring
This one is made from 100% silk and Candelilla wax.

B – Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Floss
Coated with natural beeswax with added antiseptic tea tree oil, material of floss unknown

Made from 100% silk and Candelilla wax.

B – COCOFLOSS Coconut-oil infused luxury dental floss
This one is made from microfibers infused with coconut oil. Says right in the description “no PFA.”

B – Dr. Ginger’s All Natural Coconut Oil & White Charcoal Dental Floss
Made with coconut oil, xylitol and white charcoal, no information given on fiber of floss.

The above list all happened to end up with my Zero Toxics “B” rating.

It seems that many mass market brand dental flosses may contain PFAs to make them glide between teeth more easily. Any brand that does contain PFAs would fall into my Zero Toxics “D” rating—not an immediate poisoning but could build up to be dangerous over time with regular use.

This isn’t a complete review or writeup on all dental floss, just something quick to get started with if you are considering changing your brand of dental floss.

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