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Submitted questions will be posted with my response by the following Tuesday or before.
Submitted comments will be moderated and approved within 24 hours.

Bamboo flooring in semi-arid climate

Question from Jennifer

Has any one installed bamboo flooring in a semi-arid climate? If so, did you have any problems with contraction or cupping? FYI: We have a swamp cooler but will not be maintaining a constant humidity level.

Debra’s Answer

Readers, any experience with this?

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Baby Car Seats

Question from Sage

Dear Debra,

I am currently looking for a new car seat for my 11 month baby, but all car seats stink. Do you know of any that are less toxic?



Debra’s Answer

Moms, what do you suggest?

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Organic Blueberries

Question from Patricia

Hi Debra,

I know blueberries are on the dirty dozen list so I always try to buy organic blueberries. They are usually quite expensive. Wyman’s blueberries,, posts the following statement on their website and I wanted to get your opinion:

Thank you

Debra’s Answer

This is an interesting question.

I went to their website. First, they correctly do not claim their blueberries to be organic, but they do promote “sustainability”. What was surprising to me was that pesticides in any amount were being used on “wild” blueberries. I had always thought that if something was labeled “wild” it was harvested from the wild, but apparenetly not. I need to do more research on what “wild” means, if there is a legal definition. Does anybody know?

As to whether or not it is OK to eat blueberries with this tiny amount of pesticide, here are my thoughts. Ideally, we would eat NO pesticides–100% organic. However, in today’s world, that is usually not possible. Myself, I eat as much organic as is available wherever I am, but I also eat non-organic foods. So if I look at my overall consumption, I am probably eating more pesticides overall between organic and non-organic than are in those blueberries.

Also, we need to consider that there are many health benefits to eating blueberries that may outweigh the infinitesimal amount of pesticide in them. And, these IPM blueberries have much less pesticide than standard blueberries.

So I would say it is a better choice, but not the best possible choice. That said, it may be the best choice available to you where you live.

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Garden Spiders

Question from Susan

generally, i have no problem with having a few spiders around. but i have a small lime tree that spiders seem to love too much–huge webs spring up overnight and kill the flowers before they have a chance to turn into fruit. (i also have a lemon tree in the same yard but do not have the same problem with it.) i only use products that are ok for organic gardening.

any suggestions?

Debra’s Answer


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Toxic Baby Bottles

Question from Louise

This is from a parent on Berkeley Parent’s Network…

Have you seen the article in the latest ”Environment California”newsletter on popular baby bottles that leach dangerous chemicals, bisphenol A in particular? The Environment California Research and Policy Center and an independent laboratory conducted a test on Avent, Dr. Brown’s, Evenflo, Gerber, and Playtex bottles, and found harmful levels of bisphenol A in all of these brands.

About four years ago I contacted Avent to ask about the safety of their bottles, and they sent me information admitting that their bottles had been found to cause cancer in rats. I was horrified, thinking that my newborn was about the size of a rat. Also I had been heating my Avent bottles in the microwave, which I’m sure helps to release the chemicals. I switched to glass bottles immediately.

I also tell everyone I see using these bottles about their possible danger. The safest thing to do, if you want to use plastic bottles, is to look for those made with softer, less clear plastic — generally these don’t have bisphenol A. It bothers me to note that stores like Baby’s R Us, who say they don’t sell anything with PVC, continue to stock Avent bottles.

Low doses of bisphenol A have been linked to a number of childhood ailments and behavioral problems. For the entire report on toxic baby bottles, see

Debra’s Answer

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Natural Spray Paint

Question from Helen

We have some fifty-year old child-sized wicker chairs that were recently repaired. The old material is gray and the new is natural new wood colored. The chair man has suggested we spray paint them because the color difference is so great between the old and the new materials. I suggested milk paint but he thinks that wouldn’t cover the discrepancy well enough.

We plan to put these chairs on a covered porch and want them safe for children to use and sit in when their little legs are bare on these hot days. Can you recommend a natural spray paint that would be suitable for this?


Debra’s Answer

I don’t know of a less-toxic or natural paint that comes in a spray can, however, you can purchase paint sprayers at any home improvement or hardware store and spray any type of paint you want.

Readers, any other suggestions?

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Is Method a good cleaner to use??

Question from SarahBug

I just bought two Method cleaning products at Target recently and was wondering why it was not on the list?? Is there something wrong with the products I should know about?

Debra’s Answer

First, there are many more products on the market than I can keep up with, so don’t assume that if it’s not on Debra’s List, there is something wrong with it. I love having you all write in asking about specific products because then I know exactly which products you are wondering about and can address them. Sometimes I learn about new products from you too that I am not aware of and add them to Debra’s List.

Now about Method Cleaning Products, I’ve already answered this at Q&A: Method Cleaning Products.

Remember to use the big purple SEARCH button and search for your question before posting. It might already have been addressed and you’ll get an instant answer!

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Making Safe Organic Candles at Home

Question from Perri

Hi, I love your website and use your Shopping List almost daily!

I decided to start making my own candles so I can have fun trying different scents. Also, I want to know for sure that my candles are safe for my home.

Do you or any readers know where I can find 100% organic soy wax and organic cotton wicks? I have searched online with no luck. Thanks!

Debra’s Answer


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Ceiling Fans And Dehumidifiers

Question from gail smith


I have severe chemical sensitivies, and want to purchase a ceiling fan and dehumidifier that would be safe.

I purchased a ceiling fan, had it installed and have run it for 24 hours on high to get rid of the odor coming from it.

Evidently they dip ceiling fans works in shelac that is supposed to gas off in 24 hours, but this one certainly hasn’t.

Can you give me a brand name that doesn’t have an odor when run.

Similarly, I want to purchase a dehumidifier that doesn’t give off a new odor when turned on, or one that gasses off quickly.

Debra’s Answer

None of the ceiling fans in my house have ever had an odor.

I don’t remember the brands. Some came with the house. I purchased two inexpensive ones in a hardware store. I think the one in the kitchen is a Hunter.

They shouldn’t have an odor. I would return it.

Readers, any suggestions for ceiling fans or dehumidifiers that don’t have an odor?

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