Super Search

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

Electric Slow Cooker and Skillet

Question from Linda

I can not use my stove due to Electromagnetic hyper sensitivity so I am looking to buy an electric Slow cooker and a skillet. William Sonoma has an Electric All Clad Ceramic Cooker and Stainless Skillet. Have these products been tested for chemical leaching?

Lisa’s Answer

All ceramic slow cookers have tested positive for lead and are not recommended.  Some people choose to avoid cooking on stainless steel due to concerns about heavy metal leaching.  Since you need to use an electric appliance and have few alternatives, it is probably your best choice.  Here is more on stainless steel cookware.

Foam Packaging

Question from AJ

I have been using  supposedly non toxic  and safe cribs for my two little ones, with all the conversion accessories for toddler bed to full bed etc. I am curious about the storage of these  accessories. They are in the original cardboard boxes  with rigid foam/some bubble wrap or foam wrap for protection. As I do not want to store in attic I was planning on storing in my 6 month old’s deep closet.  Then became concerned.  Thoughts ?  I may take out of boxes and wrap in something safe or just use the cardboard to protect surfaces or I could store as is in basement (part is a full walkout not underground), not sure that’s any better air quality wise  though to the extent the materials may be toxic.


Lisa’s Answer

You are right to be concerned.  The foam is likely polystyrene which is a toxic plastic.  If you have room in your closet, why don’t you simply wrap it in old sheets or blankets and store it there?


Question from Jane

Are K-Cups (Keurig or generic) made of toxic plastic with bpa or other toxins that will contaminate the coffee with toxins? ALSO, the plastic bags at the grocery store to bag the groceries. I am cutting them in strips and attaching them so that I can use it like yarn (called plarn) crocheting an article like a shopping bag. Only thing is, I am touching the plastic constantly when making the bag.  Will my hands ingest the toxin if the plastic bag is toxic with bpa or other toxins?


Lisa’s Answer

Keurig K-Cups have switched to #5 recyclable polypropylene.  This is an improvement over the #7 plastic they used to use.  Though they claim to be BPA free, studies have shown that BPA-free plastic can have similar hormone-disrupting effects.  Heating the plastic increases the leaching.
Grocery store plastic bags are made of HDPE or high-density polyethylene.  It is one of the safer plastics but I can’t tell you for sure what additives are in it or are used in the printing on it.  It could have plasticizers that can be absorbed by the skin.  If the bags are labelled as food safe they are less likely to have harmful additives as they have more stringent regulations.

Are All Plastics Toxic?

Photo by Merakist on Unsplash

We often hear that some types of plastics are safer or less toxic than others, but what does that really mean? There are many guides available that categorize plastics according to their toxicity.  These guides can be misleading because most plastic consumer products have additives to enhance their functionality.  A single plastic product can contain dozens of chemical additives.  Most manufacturers don’t disclose those chemicals which makes it very difficult to assess the toxicity of a particular item.


Chemical Additives Can Be More Harmful Than the Plastics Themselves


One study tested over 400 plastic food packaging products including baby bottles, plastic bags, deli-containers, and water bottles.  Most of the products leached chemicals that have estrogenic activity, meaning they mimic human estrogen, which has been linked to adverse health effects.  Products that were stressed to replicate normal usage leached even more.  Also, some BPA-free products leached at greater levels than BPA-containing products.

A surprising result of the study was that some of the products that leached these harmful chemicals were made of plastics thought to be safe including:

  • polypropylene (yogurt cups, ketchup bottles),
  • low-density polyethylene or LDPE (grocery bags, food storage bags),
  • high-density polyethylene or HDPE (milk jugs, butter tubs, juice bottles).

The study went on show that in these particular materials, it was the additives and not the plastics themselves that were the source of the leached chemicals.  When they tested pure polyethylene and polypropylene resins with no chemical additives there was no detectable levels of chemicals with estrogenic activity.  Additives are more likely to leach because, in most cases, they aren’t chemically bound to the plastic (1).

This highlights why it’s so important for manufacturers to disclose all of the materials used in their products.  Safer plastics are possible.  But without full transparency, it is very difficult to determine the toxicity of any individual item.


Treatments Added to Finished Plastics May Also Be Toxic


I’m often asked if plastic fabrics such as Nylon or polyester are non-toxic.  In their pure forms, they are relatively inert.  However, treatments can be applied to add features such as waterproofing to nylon or wrinkle-resistance to polyester.  For example, most nylon raincoats will have some type of Durable Water Repellent (DWR).   Most DWRs are made with perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) which are linked to numerous health concerns and are persistent in the environment.  Some manufacturers are working to find PFC-free waterproofing treatments but they are not yet as effective.  See a statement from Patagonia, the outdoor retailer, on their progress with finder safer alternatives.


When you can’t determine all of the additives or treatments, here are some general tips to follow:

  • Always avoid plastics known to be harmful to humans and the environment. Avoid PVC, Polystyrene, and Polycarbonate.
  • Avoid all plastic products that come in contact with food or drink. If you must use plastic, avoid heating and dishwashing.  When the plastic becomes scratched or damaged, throw it out.
  • Look for manufacturers that fully disclose the additives and treatments used in and on their products.
  • Consider how and when the product will be used to determine the exposure to you and your family.  For example, a plastic storage bag used to hold paper clips is much less of a concern than one used to hold orange slices for a child’s lunchbox.


Elastics in Clothing

Question from Larry

Was wondering what your opinion on spandex,elastane,or etc in clothing. I’m in the middle of buying some clothing such as jeans and short most of it is organic cotton and organic wool.There is also some non organic cotton pieces as well but on most of them (shorts and pants mainly) they all seem to have a small percentage of elastics. I had looked online about it before contacting you  and my questions what is spandex made of and is it toxic to wear even in small amounts?


Lisa’s Answer

Spandex, also know as elastane or the brand name Lycra, is made of at least 85% polyurethane.  Like other synthetic fabrics, the cause for concern is in the chemicals used during the finishing process.  Some sensitive people may react to spandex due to these chemical treatments.  If you are buying clothes from a company that uses organic cotton and wool, they are likely knowledgeable about the spandex they use and what chemicals it may contain.  Give them a call.

If you are not someone who is sensitive to spandex, I would not be concerned about this small exposure.

Nylon in Socks

Question from Larry

All the socks I like to workout in have a decent percentage of nylon included in them.I’ve heard nylon is also quite toxic.  Do you, or readers, know of a good, sock to run and/or workout in without nylon or is nylon ok to have in small percentages when buying socks?

Lisa’s Answer

Pure nylon is relatively non-toxic.  It is the finishes that are toxic.  Nylon used in socks are probably free of finishes.  Read more about additive and finishes in plastic here.  I wear cotton or wool socks when I am not working out or for hiking but I do use socks with nylon for other exercise.  It is a minor exposure.  Readers, have you found workout socks that have 100% natural fibers?

Non-Toxic Sleep System for Sale

Question from Jackie

I am trying to sell my non-toxic sleep system because it is not comfortable for me.  Our king size bed has 2 coconut coir bed mats, medium dunlop latex from Savvy Rest, Shepherd’s Dream Wool mattress, and 2 wool toppers.

Lisa’s Answer

Readers, if you are interested submit a note to me on the contact form and I will put you in touch with Jackie.

Off-Gassing Furniture

Question from Clara

I am currently doing a bakeout in my garage. I have a pleather couch I am trying to off gas and a table and chairs. Will the bake out off gas furniture? if so how long would it take?

Lisa’s Answer

I am no longer recommending bake outs.  Debra has had success in the past with clients using bake outs to accelerate off-gassing, but there has been research indicating that it can actually increase off-gassing and extend off-gassing in some cases.  It is impossible to tell how it will work in each individual environment.  Look for more information on an upcoming post.  Also, a bake out would not work on something like polyurethane foam in a coach as that will off-gas indefinitely.

Non-Stick Cookware

Question from Nancy

Is there a truly “non-stick” safe skillet? Even with Xtrema cookware they suggest using some type of oil and their skillets are on backorder.

Lisa’s Answer

I use an Xtrema skillet and a cast iron skillet and I rotate them.  I have a small stainless steel skillet that I use occasionally for eggs.  Read my thoughts on stainless steel cookware here.
There are “green” non-stick skillets on the market, such as Green Pan, that claim to be PFAS and PFOA free and to have Not-Detected levels of lead or cadmium.  If a “green” pan manufacturer will disclose their third-party testing and it confirms the above claims, it is probably okay to use.  I would avoid cooking acidic food in it and throw it away if it gets badly scratched or the coating chips.  Most are made with an aluminum core and could leach aluminum if the coating is compromised.

Crumbling Polyurethane Coating

Question from JoAnneh

I am a Pilates fusion teacher and yoga teacher.  In many of the corporate group exercise rooms I teach in, we use weights coated with polyurethane or neoprene.  In many cases these coatings are cracked, chipped or falling off in pieces. I have read that these disintegrating materials are quite dangerous to 1) touch, re: skin toxicity, 2) to hold (as they continue to fall apart with use and expose the student to bits of toxic chemicals both on the skin and in the air), and 3) to breath near, as the materials send small bits of inhaling-friendly chemicals into the lungs. I did a study for our town on leaf blowers and found that even the smallest microns of particulate matter blown into the air from them enters the lungs, passes the blood brain barrier, and causes all sorts of disorders, including contributing to heart disease, high blood, ADD like symptoms, and even–long term–Alzheimer’s symptoms.  I’m wondering if the materials on these falling-apart weights are just as dangerous?  The management has been slow to address this.

Lisa’s Answer

I can’t speak to how these specific materials would enter the environment.  One concern is that antimicrobials, which are sometimes added to plastic to prevent mold growth, can release nanoparticles into the environment.  Here is a study about nanoparticles escaping from plastic coating.


Visitor site map


Organic and Healthy





Toxic Products Don’t Always Have Warning Labels. Find Out About 3 Hidden Toxic Products That You Can Remove From Your Home Right Now.