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 Liz
Thank you so much for all of the great information! I’m on the hunt for metal free and plastic/silicone/latex free braces or retainer.
I found a few silicone options but silicone doesn’t seem to work for me!
Thanks so much!
I don’t have any personal experience with braces or retainers.
Readers, any ideas?
Having said that, I just found an excellent article about materials used for retainers and braces at NOW: Is Mouth Gear Safe, Considering All That Plastic?.
They recommend asking your dentist for a retainer made of “somewhat pricier polypropylene.”
Is your objection to ALL plastic or the toxic plastics? Polypropylene is much less toxic than others.
Over the weekend Larry and I went on a little 2-day “honeymoon” to celebrate 31 years of being together.
I’ve been getting questions about travel lately, so I thought I’d give you a real life “case study” of how we put our vacation together and what happened.
When I want to go somewhere I’m always looking for a room that is as nontoxic as possible at an affordable price. For me, I expect to pay around $150/night. I’ll go a little higher for something special and I’m always happy when I can get a room for less, but I would rather pay more and be more comfortable than save money and be less comfortable.
When we were younger we would just get in the car and drive and stop wherever we wanted to stop and find a room. We had some great experiences doing that. One night—it was a Saturday night—we were in Monterey, California, where there are just no rooms on Saturday nights. We were standing in a hotel lobby, calling on a pay phone. I hung up the phone from “No Vacancy” #3 and the women at the next pay phone around poked her head around the divider and said, “Excuse me, are you looking for a room? I just had a cancellation.” We got a $500 room for $250. How could we not stay there. The room was beautiful and right on Montery Bay. We could open the window and look down at the water.
But now, with smart phones and online booking, we either book in advance, or I use hotel.com as we get close to an area. If you book last minute, you can get really good prices, but you run the risk of no rooms. One night, again, years ago, we had to drive half way across Nevada before we could get a room.
I generally start by looking for a bed and breakfast instead of a conventional hotel. They are just too toxic. Except in Fort Bragg and along Hwy 1 up the coast there, there are many, many small places to stay where the rooms are right on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. So in that case, I would stay in a commercial hotel to get that view and that air.
We decided to spend the night in Fort Bragg on our trip. We had driven up Hwy 1 from Point Reyes, California to Victoria BC Canada on an earlier honeymoon, so this was a re-enactment of a trip we had taken before together. After living in Florida for fifteen years, I just wanted to reconnect with this land and the redwood trees and the ocean.
It took me about five minutes to find the Living Light Inn. It’s “Eco-Friendly Lodging.” That’s a photo of our room above. It’s an attic room on the third floor (no elevator). All wood paneled, with a view of the organic vegetable garden out the window. The ocean is only about four blocks away, so the air is magnificent. It’s just your average bed and carpet on the floor, but everything is so old that there are no toxic chemicals. No fragrance on the sheets from detergent, no fragrance in the bathroom from soap. We were totally comfortable.
This place has many many many glowing reviews. Most of the rooms have white walls and wood floors and are very bright an airy.
The only down side for me was that it was just a bit more funky than I like. The bathroom had a plastic shower enclosure and shelves that looked like exposed wood framing. But these were small things in comparison to the overall experience. This is not a luxury hotel. It’s good, clean rooms with clean air.
This is a vegan establishment. They have a kitchen that guests can use to prepare their own food, with a refrigerator and blenders and all the tools you might want to prepare vegan food.
They serve a vegan breakfast, which was interesting to me. I drink organic coffee with organic cream in the morning. They weren’t sure if the coffee was organic and the cream was rice milk. I was expecting plates of beautiful organic fruit. That’s vegan. But it was pretty much all packaged industrial food. But vegan.
The thing I really learned from this experience is that different people have different priorities. This establishment was “eco” and “vegan” and it expressed their understanding of those viewpoints. But they don’t have a “toxic-free” viewpoint and few places do. I need to do more work on this, to bring more awareness to lodgings about how they could really be toxic-free in addition to whatever else they are doing.
We started our trip with breakfast at the Cape Fear Cafe in Duncans Mills. I had overheard someone recommending it to a friend and wanted to try it. Very good.Since it was about 10:30 by the time we got there, Larry and I split a breakfast of veggie scrambled eggs with potatoes and toast and then we split a lunch of green salad with tandoori chicken and mango chutney on top.
Food choices is a big subject. Over the years I’ve come to having a line that I will not cross. I can’t say “I will only eat organic food” because often there isn’t any to choose. But I can usually find restaurants that serve dishes made from fresh ingredients, no additives, no cans, just real food. These places often use white refined flour and sugar and salt, but otherwise the ingredients are pretty good. That’s my line. My minimum. I won’t eat fast food or most packaged or canned food. I’ll just wait for the next meal if there is nothing else, or find some raw fruits or vegetables.
Cape Fear Cafe isn’t organic, but it could easily be as there is plenty of organic food in the area. Still, it was a very good meal.
Driving Hwy 1 the roadside services are few and far between. So when we got hungry again we stopped at the Black Point Grill in the Sea Ranch Lodge. Sea Ranch is an interesting place, worth a stop and a look around. I remember when Sea Ranch was built, starting in 1963. It was quite innovative then. The idea was to have people live in an ecosystem and preserve the natural beauty of the area. And they have accomplished and maintained that for almost fifty years now. There is no landscaping around the houses. Every house has weathered wood siding. Each house is unique. There are vacation rentals or you can stay at the Lodge. Lodge rooms start at $279/night, but it is well worth the cost. Staying here is an iconic California experience.
The food at the Black Point Grill was delicious and we were happy to see that they are vegetarian-friendly. I’m not a vegetarian but my diet is mostly plant-based, so I was happy to be able to order corn chowder and a chickpea veggie burger that was really delicious. Again not organic but they use “the freshest local ingredients.”Oh, I take that back. Some organic. The baby greens in the salad were organic.
When we reached Fort Bragg we asked the innkeeper for recommendations and she steered us to Mayan Fusion. This was a GREAT restaurant for us. It’s Mexican with a Mayan twist so the flavors were a bit different. They had a lot of nice entrees but we were able to stay on our diet by ordering salads and sides of rice and beans. Lest you think that sounds boring, we were delighted with how inventive and tasty they were. Homemade corn tortillas. And for dessert we had a Mayan chocolate ice cream with chilis, which is one of my favorite flavor combinations so we had to splurge. Larry and I rarely order dessert, but if we see something super-special, we always split it.
One of the things I love about the food in Fort Bragg is that they are very local-oriented. They really get what it meats to eat local. There are a number of local purveyors, so, for example, the Mayan chocolate ice cream was made especially for Mayan Fusion by the local ice cream maker Cowlicks. And the coffee ice cream at Cowlicks is made with a special blend from the local coffee roaster, and is unique to the ice cream. Cowlicks also has an ice cream made with a local mushroom called Candy Cap that tastes just like maple. Of course I had to try that and it really does taste like maple. Really really delicious. And the most popular breakfast spot, Eggheads, uses Canadian bacon smoked at the smokehouse down the street. You get the idea.
On Saturday morning I woke up looking for organic coffee. Since the innkeeper couldn’t guarantee their coffee was organic, he sent me down to Headland’s Coffee, his personal favorite coffee house. I walked in, wondering if it was organic. I looked at the list of “hot drinks” on the wall. It said “coffee” but not organic. And then I saw it. There was a whole rack of coffee bean dispensers and every single one said “organic.” I paid for my coffee and took my paper cup over to the double row of thermoses and every single one was organic. A dozen varieties of organic coffee! All brewed and waiting for me to try. If I lived in Fort Bragg, I would try a different one every morning.
After coffee, we tried to go to Eggheads,
but the wait was an hour. So we went down the street to the dedicated organic restaurant Cafe One. It wasn’t crowded, but the food was great. We had a Mexican breakfast of scrambled eggs on a corn tortilla with beans and rice and salsa. And a beautiful plate of assorted organic fruits, each cut carefully and arranged beautifully on the plate. The decor was unremarkable, but the food was delicious and I really appreciated their commitment to being organic through and through.
For lunch we went to Rhody’s Cafe at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens. We actually had planned to walk around the
Botanical Gardens, but it’s about a 2 hour walk and we didn’t have time. But the lunch was great. Lots of organic and local food. I had lentil soup and hummus with pita chips and dipping vegetables. Plates were decorated with edible flowers and herbs. We ate in an outdoor patio with a view o
f the gardens. Just lovely.
On the way home we stopped at a roadside stand and got the most fragrant strawberries! We at the whole basket.
The main purpose of this honeymoon was simply to be together, enjoy each other’s company and have an adventure. We love to just go someplace and see what there is to see.
So driving up the coast we stopped at a secluded beach Larry had found and wanted to show me. It’s a public beach but it has kind of a secret entrance through a grove of redwood trees that you could easily miss if you didn’t know it was there.
We stopped at Sea Ranch and looked around.
We stopped in the town of Mendocino,
which used to be one of my favorite places of all time. Charming street of Victorian buildings on a bluff overlooking the ocean. There used to be wonderful shops there but no more. It’s all tourist shops now. I remember when Mendocino first became popular. A single restaurant opened, Cafe Beujoulais, became so outstanding that it became a destination. I remember their ads in local newspapers said simply, “Cafe Beaujolais. Mendocino. Worth the trip.” And it was. They had astonishing food for
1977. I went. And so did many others. And shops opened. And Mendocino became Mendocino. But that’s gone now.
As I get older—I’m 63 now—I’m noticing with some sadness parts of my life that used to be there and I expect to still be there are now gone. Like Mendocino. Like Thomas Bros road maps. They are no longer sold in bookstores because maps are in your phone. But last week we were out in the rural part of Sonoma county and lost reception. We needed a paper map. And I couldn’t buy one at my local bookstore. I could go to AAA and get a folding map, but Thomas Bros maps are books of maps of individual areas so you can really see them. A smart phone may be smart, but only if you have reception. A paper book you can take anywhere.
On Saturday morning we walked around the downtown area of Fort Bragg. It’s both sides of the street around one square block. It’s not for tourists. These are shops that carry the everyday items people need living far far far from the nearest mall or Walmart. And it reflects their viewpoint. Clothing is pretty much all natural fiber. There’s a cooking store with real cooking tools for the kind of cooking you do when your food comes from the farmer’s market or the forest or the ocean. A bookstore is all about connecting with nature. It’s just REAL.
And we loved it.
There’s a lot to see and do on the north coast of California. Lots of clean air. Lots of organic food. Lot’s of inns to stay in, in all price ranges. You can even bring your RV and park it in one of the RV parks that are almost right on the beach.
There’s still some summer left. Get out and explore!
Question from Stephanie
First of all, I love all your emails and personal notes about you and Larry. Now I’m concerned if the fires are affecting you in any way. I know the smoke must be very bad. It is terrible here, by Modesto, and we aren’t even close to any fires!
I did want to say again, and I have meant to respond to readers questions, about which air filters are the best. EnviroKlenz 100%!!!!
I started with Foust in the 1980’s, and have bought very expensive and cheap ones ever since. I could never really tell a difference until I got the EnviroKlenz Mobile Unit.
Everyone that lives in smokey areas should have an EnviroKlenz Mobile Unit in their home. Everyone.
I have 2 Mobile units and I’m purchasing another one for my niece next door with 2 little boys. The air can be thick with smoke outside, and I turn my unit on full blast, shut all windows, (and our home is not airtight), but I cannot smell the smoke at all. Nothing. It is absolutely wonderful!
It has helped me with smoke, with chemical exposures, and just having better air to breathe. I wish I had more time to give you more specifics Debra, but I don’t.
However, I did want to see how you and Larry, and his family are doing. And also to tell you about EnviroKlenz, so people will know what filter is best to get help with this smoke!! I highly recommend it.
It is the ONLY air purifier I recommend after 40 years of searching.
I would definitely recommend a person purchase the EnvirKlenz Mobile UV Model. I have both models. Two times we had water leakage in an older Mobile Home with water inside the walls. Both times we put our UV Model in the area, turned it on full blast, and had No Problems with mold. We even had a mold inspector out to check the boards and inside the walls. No Problem.
I would also like to add that when we had the chemical exposure in our home I had a brand new 02 Air Purifier and an AirPura Air Filter. In 5 days, I had both running full blast in the room, and they did not touch the toxic smell at all. I called Debra, and I received the original EnviroKlenz Mobile unit and within 24 hours the smell was almost gone, and within 48 hours we could breathe good air with no toxic smell whatsoever. No Problems since.
I also had our home checked for EMF’s by a professional. The AirPura had horribly high EMF’s and I kept it right next to my bed. No wonder I couldn’t sleep! The EnviroKlenz Mobile Unit EMF’s were next to nothing. I can sit right next to it, No Problem.
I also want to relate our experience with the EnviroKlenz Breathing Masks. My husband takes care of our 3 acre Almond orchard doing all weeding, etc., by hand since we do not use chemicals. It is a dirty, dusty job. Before we purchased the EnviroKlenz Breathing Masks he would get sinus headaches, be all stopped up, red eyes, the whole works whenever he worked in the field or yards. Now he always wears the Breathing Mask when he’s outside working and he has absolutely No Problems.
I continue to be impressed with EnviroKlenz. The smoky air in the California skies is terrible right now where I live, but at least I can come inside my home and be able to breathe because of the EnviroKlenz Air Filter. Truly amazing!
Always fond thoughts of you.
Wishing you cool sea breezes,
Thanks so much Stephanie.
We’re fine for the moment. We’re south of the Mendocino fires. But it’s clearly fire season now and we all need to be ready.
I also want to mention that EnviroKlenz also has a face mask that works a lot better than the usual particle face masks. I have mine ready and at hand in case it gets smokey here.
It utilizes the EnviroKlenz patented earth mineral technology which has the ability to chemically dismantle a wide range of undesirable chemical compounds. The fibers of the mask can filter out many common particulates. Reduces exposures to fragrances, VOCs, pollen, dust, dander, odors, and more.The mask itself is odor-free.
I like to save money as much as all the rest of you, so I’m happy to report that I often do find toxic-free items at discount places like Ross Dress for Less, Marshall’s, and TJ Maxx.
One of my most favorite pieces of clothing of all time—a 100% boiled wool vest with embroidery—I got for $2 at Ross.
So when I needed to buy a waste basket the other night, Larry and I went down to TJ Maxx. Here are three items I we found that I felt were worth mentioning.
All at my local TJ Maxx.
Toxic-free products are everywhere. You just need to know how to identify them.
Question from Jackie
Hello, I am so tempted to buy this Large Desk Mat from Pottery Barn . I know I shouldn’t because it is made of acrylic. Would you happen to know of something better? Leather is pricey and this is for my 7 year old son who has ADHD symptoms.
This is easy.
Just get a piece of glass to put on the desk top.
Tell them at the glass store what you are using it for and the size of the desk and they will give you the right type of glass and cut it for you.
Back in 2011, a reader asked about Odorox, a new technology that claimed to completely remove fragrance from fabrics, surface, beds, curtains, upholstery, and other materials that are difficult to remove fragrance from.
I didn’t have any experience with it, but I posted her question and asked if anyone had any experience, and got zero responses.
Today I got a consulting call about Odorox. Same situation. A woman moved into an apartment and everything is scented and she can’t get the fragrance out.
She wants to know…does it work?
Does anyone have any experience with this service?
Odorox is a “hydroxyl generator” that uses hydroxyl molecules to break down the chemical bonds to destroy odor molecules.
I would have to do more research to offer any comment on this, but I didn’t want to wait to ask if anyone has any experience using it. Does it work?
Thank you! Just leave a comment with your reply.
I just learned this morning that on June 6, 2018, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced S. 3019/H.R. 6022, the inaccurately labeled “Accurate Labels Act.”
The bill is designed to comprehensively preempt the ability of states and municipalities to require the disclosure of ingredients in consumer products that communicates the presence of harmful chemicals, such as carcinogens or reproductive toxins.
The bill would likely overturn numerous state and local laws (and potentially some federal programs) including mercury warning labels, cleaning product ingredient disclosure, disclosure of toxic flame retardants in furniture, disclosure of dangerous chemicals in children’s products, and California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop 65).
In a press release regarding this legislation, Women’s Voices for the Earth provided some good statistics about the need for ingredient transparency:
- A 2015 survey of 1,000 U.S. moms found that 73% of those surveyed, “often do research to understand the safety of ingredients to which their family is exposed.”[i]
- In a 2013 survey consumers reported ingredient transparency as a “very important” or “important” factor in purchase decisions like food and beverage (82%), beauty and personal care (82%), and household products (82%) [ii]
- A 2012 survey of consumer attitudes found that 86% of people polled believed “ingredient transparency “ is one of the most important issues for companies to address.[iii]
- A 2015 Harris poll found that 60% of women in the United States report that they read labels on personal care products and avoid products that contain certain chemicals. [iv]
While I personally feel that Proposition 65 is too vague and confusing to be an effective warning, I do think we should have the freedom to have good warnings and the right to know. And we should have MORE information about toxics in products, not less.
If you want to take action to stop this legislation, now is the time.
[i]Influence Central (2015) It’s Not Easy Being Green: Navigating the Kaleidoscope of Green Moms. Available online: http://influence-central.com/ic/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/IC_NavigatingKaleidoscopeofGreenMoms.pdf
Question from Milena
Glad to find this website. I recently got married to a man who suffers from MCS in a very severe way. We want to travel, to any place in the world, to have some vacations. Do you know any hotels we could be using, anywhere?
There used to be a directory of hotels for MCS that I believe no longer exists.
Here are some posts where I’ve already written on the subject:
Hotels continue to be a toxic industry. I stay in B&Bs when I can.
Readers, if you have stayed someplace you consider safe, please put it in the comments.
Here’s a place in Berkeley, California that especially caters to MCS: The North Berkeley Hils Homestay.
Question from Sicili
I was wondering if you could please tell me which one of the three dishliquids you would use if you were choosing between , Better Life unscented, Attitude fragrance free and Seventh Generation free and clear? Thank you so much for your time. I hope you have a nice day 🙂
From coconut and corn
No SLS (sodium lauryl sulfates), SLES, ethoxylates, petroleum solvents, synthetic fragrances, dyes, parabens, or triclosan. No harsh chemical residue. Just the good stuff.
Purified water, potassium cocoate (natural castile soap), lauryl glucoside (plant derived), caprylyl/capryl glucoside (plant derived) glycerin (vegetable), disodium coco-glucoside citrate, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, tocopherol (vitamin E)
Non-toxic and biodegradable
Safe around kids, pets, and the planet
Never tested on animals
Kind to waterways and marine life
Made in the USA with solar energy
Attitude Baby Dishwashing Liquid
We promise to use only the safest and purest ingredients.
Aqua/water/eau, coco glucoside, myristyl glucoside, lauryl glucoside, sodium chloride, sodium gluconate, sodium citrate.
- Free of carcinogen ingredients and by products (IARC group 1 & 2)
- Free of 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, tested by independent laboratory
- Certified eco-friendly by EcoLogo, the most recognized certification in North America
- CO2 neutral: no contribution to climate change
- Fragrance free
- Vegetable-based and biodegradable (OECD 301)
- Free of EDTA and NTA
- Not tested on animals
- Vegan product
- Septic tank safe
- Made in Canada
- I can find who owns Attitude or anything about them
Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid
Though this Seventh Generation product is plant-based and free from fragrances and dyes, the company is now owned by Lever, so I have less trust about the integrity of the product. Lever is not dedicated to making toxic-free products. So I wouldn’t use this one for that reason, especially since there are other choices available.
* * * * *
Either of the first two would be fine with me. The Attitude product is simpler and has fewer ingredients, the Better Life product has the added benefit of aloe and vitamin D, but otherwise their ingredients are very similar and they are both plant-based and fragrance-free. If I had to choose one, I’d go with Better Life, because they are more transparent about who they are and they are clearly motivated by purity of product. And I like that they use solar energy. I work in a solar-powered office. 🙂
Question from Cindy
I have been wearing orthotics in my shoes for the past 5 years. Recently, I found out that the owner of the company could no longer provide his orthotics, because the rubber in the middle layer of this product contains mercury, and has been banned. I have been able to walk pain-free in these orthotics, so am dismayed, but I am also concerned if the mercury is capable of leaching out into my foot. I wear these everyday, all day. Am I in danger of mercury poisoning?
Thank you so much.
First of all, I went searching online, but couldn’t find any reference to mercury in orthotics. FYI here’s a list of materials used to make orthotics. Mercury isn’t included. This doesn’t mean YOUR orthotics do not contain mercury, it just isn’t common.
And you mentioned it was in the middle layer. So you would have had no skin contact. The mercury would have had to have been outgassing for you to be exposed, in which case you would have inhaled it.
There are many types of mercury, from the elemental particle to oxidized vapor, and each will enter your body and move through it in different ways, with different effects.
I doubt this mercury has had any effect on your health, but if they have banned it, there is a reason.
I would suggest you go back to them and ask what form of mercury was used and why it was banned.
Then you could go online and look for the toxicokinetics for that type of mercury.
You can look up this kind of information for any chemical by searching for “toxicokinetics” name of chemical”.
Toxicokinetics is a description of the routes by which a chemical enters the body, the rate of entry, and what occurs to metabolize and excrete the chemical once it is in the body.
As long as you know the exact chemical in the exposure, you should be able to find it’s toxicokinetics.