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Submitted questions will be posted with my response by the following Tuesday or before.
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Filtering PVC residue from water

Question from SVE

Dear Debra,

We are on a community well (six other houses) that brings water to a tank house through PVC piping. We had copper piping installed from the tank house to our house. Also, we have copper piping inside our house.

Since there is no chlorine in the water, I understand that a carbon filter would not be practical to eliminate the PVC chemicals – microorganisms can grow quickly in the carbon. The water when tested is very good but they don’t test for PVC. We do have the problems of mineral deposits and a little iron stain on the toilets. (I use vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide – one at a time.)

Do you know how PVC can be filtered out of untreated well water for (1) drinking and (2) showering? Is there a risk to wearing clothes washed in “PVC water?”

Before we moved to our current house, one thing I noticed when we took a tour of a local bottled water facility using artesian well water was the PVC piping used in their processing! It seems it’s in city water systems, too. What to do?

Thanks so much, Debra, for all the time and effort you put into your outstanding website!

Debra’s Answer

Carbon is the proper filter media to remove PVC, but I do see your problem with the bacteria growth. Find a good local independent dealer of water filters who is accustomed to dealing with the water in your area.. I know you can purchase a chlorinator or you may be able to run your water through an ultraviolet or ozone system first to kill the bacteria before it goes through the carbon.

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Sound Proofing

Question from Rosiem

what do you put down on a concrete floor to sound proof it before you cement down tiles?

Debra’s Answer

Hmmmmm. I don’t know. I’ve never done that. Readers?

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Drywall danger?

Question from LC

I’m looking for information on drywall compound or what contracters call “mud”. I had a few home improvements done – hardwood put on the stairs (sealed with Polyureseal BP, a very low VOC poly applied off-site several weeks ago and attached with nails only) and we had some bathroom fans replaced. The contractor had to cut new holes for the bathroom fans and then repair the drywall. I started having some dizziness yesterday, and it coincides with the drywall repairs. However, it’s now dry, and it was my understanding that it’s not particularly toxic stuff to begin with and had no odor. Anyone have info? Thank you!

Debra’s Answer

My understanding is that “mud” is not all that toxic to begin with, although the premixed mud can contain some volatile chemicals that outgas pretty quickly. You could use heat to make sure everything is outgassed and see if that works.

Readers, anyone have any other ideas?

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Love the site

Question from christie

Hi Debra-

I just wanted to say that I love this site. My mother in law sent it to us since me and my husband are trying to get off white sugar and lose some weight. We are also trying to get our children off the “high fructose corn syrup” lifestyle, that seems to be all kids eat anymore as its in EVERYTHING! We started this about a month ago with eating according to the Somersize lifestyle. Its been very good but we still want to have dessert sometimes and thats where your site comes in! So far I have tried the carrot cake with cream cheese icing and it gets 5 stars from my whole family. I made it and even my boys ate it up and loved it! Usually in the past when I have made low sugar things they said they taste funny, but not this one. Thanks so much for sharing these recipes and helping our family get on to a healthy lifestyle.

Debra’s Answer

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Safe lawn care: Cinch bugs; Fertilizer

Question from Jeff

I have a question that I’m hoping you can help me with.

Recently, I was told that the brown (dead) patches in my lawn (in Florida) are caused by “cinch bugs” . And that the cinch bugs will eventually kill the whole lawn if I don’t eradicate them with toxic pesticides. I would like to do something about this, but I don’t want to poison everything in sight(including myself). Do you have any experience with this? Are there safer alternatives than pesticides.

Also, I’ve been advised to use Miracle-Gro fertilizer (with a dispenser that attachs to a garden hose)3-4 times a week for one month on some new plantings of shrubs to get them growing more quickly. Does anyone know about the safety of Miracle-Gro or a safer substitute.

Thanks, Jeff

Debra’s Answer


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How to Repel Spiders, Crickets and Grasshoppers

Question from Dana

We just moved into a new area and it feels as if we’re experiencing a plague of spiders(inside), crickets (inside) and grasshoppers (outside, sometimes inside!). Ok, an overexageration but I am seeking advice on ridding our lives of these small but destructive creatures! Our spider plague includes black widows. At night, the place comes alive! Any help will be greatly appreciated!

Debra’s Answer

I’ve listed quite a few links to websites for organizations that specialize in nontoxic and natural pest controls on Pest Control page of Debra’s List. That’s a good place to start. And I’m sure you’ll get some comments from readers, too!

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Brain Tumor- Need Alternatives

Question from kw

We are looking for alternatives to stop brain tumor growth- specifically oligastrocytoma or mixed glioma tumor. Have heard of omega-3s and acupunture. Any other suggestions? How do we go about finding a legitimate naturopath?

Debra’s Answer


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Carpet Mishap

Question from Mike George

As someone with minor to medium chemical sensitivities, I have been diligent about my avoidance of certain chmicals. However, a party guest that stayed over had a late-evening accident with red wine while we were asleep. The guest found a bottle of carpet cleaner stuck away and unwittingly used almost the entire contents to clean the stain.

Initially the exposure didn’t bother me, but after I closed the house windows for a day to turn on the A/C I started to get symptoms. That night I slept in the house and got severe insomnia as the chemical evaporated and spread through the house.

Now I am making a renewed committment to become truly chemical free. My questions surround what to do with the carpet, offending stain, and chemical. I have put baking soda on the affected area to try and absorb the chemical but I was hoping I could get some advice on any carpet cleaning services that are MCS friendly.

Removing the carpet entirely may be in the cards, but I have found that I can eliminate 90-95% of my symptoms simply by avoiding a few offending products so want to not jump into any major renovations just yet. My goal is to get the carpets, and duct work cleaned, and remove any obvious offending chemicals before going too crazy.

Any advice on my situation, or other persons experiences would be helpful.

Debra’s Answer

First, I suggest that you remove ANY offending chemicals from your home, don’t just tuck them away.

The best recommendation I can give you is to remove the carpet. To simply remove it doesn’t require any major renovations.

I don’t have any first-hand experience with carpet mishaps since I haven’t had a carpet in over 25 years.

Readers, your advice?

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Safe for dishwasher seals?

Question from Kay

I’ve been using a 1 to 1 mix of borax & washing soda in our dishwasher, my husband is concerned that it might eat the seals in the washer. Is there any info. about this? I’d appreciate any info. Also does using this mixture void warranties ?

Debra’s Answer

I think it would be fine and don’t know about warranties. Readers, anyone have experience with this?

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