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.

Round Cake Pan That Is Non Toxic

Question from Naomi

Hi Debra,

I have been looking for a round glass cake pan like the ones Pyrex used to make but they do not seem to be available anymore from any company. I found a ceramic one on Amazon. I tried to search this company on your website but did not find any info. Can you let me know what you think of it ? If you have any other suggestions, please let me know

https://www.greenlife-cookware.com/about

For us, healthy cookware isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. That’s why we only use Thermolon™, the first 100% natural ceramic non-stick coating.

Traditional non-stick coatings are manufactured with chemicals that are harmful to you and the environment. When overheated, these coatings release toxic fumes. Thermolon™ is high heat resistant, which means it won’t chip or peel when overheated the way traditional coatings do.

At GreenLife™, we value the health of you and your family. That’s why we made it our mission TO CREATE PRODUCTS 100% FREE OF PFAS, PFOA, LEAD and CADMIUM.

Thanks so much.

Debra’s Answer

This looks like it might be close to what you are looking for. It’s 3 quarts, which I think is too big, but you don’t need to fill it.
https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/3-quart-borosilicate-glass-baking-dish-in-clear/1044168773?skuId=44168773&&enginename=google&mcid=PS_googlepla_nonbrand_bakeware_online&product_id=44168773&adtype=pla&product_channel=online&adpos=1o4&creative=224484706032&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&mrkgadid=558423881&mrkgcl=609&rkg_id=0&gclid=Cj0KCQiA-JXiBRCpARIsAGqF8wWzgYfkOGjI8ld9RhzDRB7CGfRnqJkeSQMKVL4EBb24CgCXa52ChPgaAlZzEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Try searching on “glass baking dish” rather than “cake pan” and you’ll find quite a few.

I took a look at Thermolon back in 2008, and found that the ingredeints are a trade secret, but it “is based on silica, which of course originates from sand.” Other raw materials in the coating are oxygen and carbon. During the process of making Thermolon, the carbon is eliminated. So it’s basically some type of glass. I had a pdf they sent me with a statement about the composition of the finish, but it has gotten lost over the years. I’ll research it again and see if I can find out more.

Thermalon may be fine. I just don’t know because the materials are a trade secret/

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Nontoxic Non-slip Mat for Bath Tub

Question from Candace

Hi Debra,

Is there a nontoxic bath tub mat? I know there are some made from rubber, but they stink! I want to so soak in the tub and not slip getting In and out of the tub but I don’t want to soak myself in PVC or vinyl chemicals, etc.

Debra’s Answer

Ah! Well The Soft Landing has already researched this and compiled a list of non-slip bathmats made from natural or synthetic rubber. No PVC.

Both of these rubbers may still emit odors, but not necessarily toxic. I’d go for the natural rubber myself, but I’ve had experiences where I had to return items made from natural rubber because I couldn’t be in the same room with them and others where there was hardly any odor at all.

CLEAR + WELL: In Search of PVC-Free Non-Slip Bath Mats.

Readers, any experience with non-slip bathmats you love?

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Toxic Airstream Trailers

 

For years I’ve been hearing that Airstream Trailers are less toxic that other brands of trailers.

That may have been true at some time in the past, but it’s not true today.

Over the weekend Larry and I went to an Airstream showroom and the toxic odor in the new models was terrible.

Airstream trailers have a classic aluminum frame with a very beautiful design, but the materials used in today’s Airstream interiors are the same toxic materials used in other trailers.

So if you want an Airstream, look for an old one and renovate the interior with nontoxic materials. Don’t get a new one.

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Trihalomethanes (THMs) in my Drinking Water

Question from Angela

Hi Debra,

I got a letter from the city water department to inform us the drinking water has higher level of Trihalomethane for several months now, basically about a year they said.

They told us we should not be alarmed or boil the water or take corrective action on our part.

I buy water from my local health food store in my glass container thus I am not worried about that because I don’t drink the tap water.

But, I am concerned because I shower and clean my organic vegetables and dishes with the water. I live in an apartment thus I really cant get a whole house filtration.

Is there a filter that removes this contaminant, Trihalomethane (THM). Is there a cleanse or something I need to do to get rid of this contaminant out of my system(body) since I’ve been exposed to it.

Also, any food or supplements to take protect my system from the Trihalomethane (THM) exposure.

Thanks!

Debra’s Answer

You should be concerned about bathing in water that contains Trihalomethans because absorption through the skin is the greatest route of exposure for this chemical. And THMs are known to cause cancer.

The solution for you is a shower filter, which will allow you to take showers that are free from THMs. You can also get a countertop or under sink filter for your kitchen that will filter out THMs for drinking water and washing vegetables.

The best source I know of for both filters is Pure Effect Advanced Water Filtration.

I have used both the shower filter and the undersink filter in my own home and was very happy with both. In forty years of looking at water filters, this brand is the best.

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Safety of Motorhomes

 

Question from Kim G

Hi Debra,

I’m looking into purchasing a Class C motorhome (as a tiny home on wheels) for full-time travel but I’m concerned with the level of toxic materials used in construction. I’ve thought of purchasing an older model so that I can do renovations with non-toxic materials but I’m not quite sure where to begin my search.

Any advice on the topic of motorhomes is much appreciated!

Debra’s Answer

Well as it happened, Larry and I were just discussing the same thing this week! So we put this on the top of our to-do list and I can give you some up-to-the minute information.

We went out looking at motorhomes at a large RV dealer so we could see a lot of options.

It sounds like you already know that you want a Class C.

We had already looked at some new motorhomes and found them to be too toxic. But then we looked at some that were 2007 returns that had been take out of rental service and each one of them was acceptable to me. So the materials were about 11 years old.

I didn’t like the design aesthetic, so we would be remodeling anyway, but it wasn’t toxic.

So if anyone reading this wants to buy a relatively nontoxic home-on-wheels, look for a motorhome circa 2007 or earlier. None of the motorhomes I looked at had any fragrance, cigarette smoke, pesticides, pet smell or other human-use odors that I could detect, so this is a viable option.

We’re going to continue our search on lots and on Craig’s List. EBay also has them but I wouldn’t buy one sight-unseen. You can’t tell if there’s something toxic from looking at a photo.

WHY WE ARE LOOKING AT MOTORHOMES INSTEAD OF TRAILERS OR TINY HOUSES

We’ve been researching all these options for almost two years now.

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a tiny house vs a trailer vs a motor home.

The main thing that has kept us from moving forward with a tiny house or trailer is where to park it. You can’t park them on the street. You have to park them in a trailer park, which can cost $1000/month or more depending on where you are. And we’ve checked out trailer parks. Virtually all of them had people cooking outdoors with lighter fluid, the smell of which was all over the trailer park at dinner time.  

On the other hand, you can park a motorhome on the street and sleep in it for up to 72 hours. You can park them in parking lots. You can purchase unbuildable land and park them on your land. There is a lot more freedom regarding where you can put them.  

In our case, we will be parking ours on family property near Larry’s mom’s house. And then when the time comes when we will no longer need to live here, we can just drive off and still have a place to live while we establish our new home. And we’ll be able to just drive around all we want while we look for the best place to live for the next chapter of our lives.  

A motorhome just seems more do-able.   

So that’s where we are with this.  

And yes, we’ll be ripping out the interior and remodeling. Although, if we get an older model and the built-ins are real wood…that would be ideal.

This is the interior of an Airstream “Land Yacht” from 2000. After 18 years these materials would have gassed out. This one is very spacious. Sold for $30,000. A lot for a car, but not much for a tiny house on wheels.

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Lovesac Furniture

 

Question from Melissa

Hi Debra,

I recently saw a Lovesac piece of soft furniture, and wanted to know about the materials it is made from. They are textiles, REPREVE, repurposed from plastic bottles, and Durafoam, a premium blend of shredded recycled foam. They make a “Sac” and a sectional couch. They are designed for life with a lifetime warrenty. Costco is offering special Couch bundles for its customers.

Thank you for your help!

Debra’s Answer

This is a very clever and affordable design. As for the materials…

REPREVE is a good example of material that is “green” because it’s recycled but it’s not nontoxic for everyone.

The company has recycled more than 10 billion plastic bottles by turning them in to “performance fiber,” which is great for the environment. But while their website says much about how many plastic bottles they’ve recycled and all the major brand names that are using their fabric, it says nothing about the actual fabric, like what the bottles are made from or if the fabric has any finishes applied.

I happen to know from other research that the bottles are made from PET. As a material, PET is interesting because it has two names. It’s called PET when it’s a plastic and polyester when it’s a fiber. REPREVE calls it neither, it just says it’s made from recycled plastic bottles.

You can read more about PET in my Zero Toxics Knowledge Base.

NASA found that PET doesn’t outgas, and health effects are negligible, however, if you are sensitive to materials made from petroleum, this fabric may not be for you.

Durafoam is simply polyurethane foam that may have unknown additives of various kinds, including fire retardants (it’s very flammable).

What is Shredded Durafoam?

Shredded Durafoam is a Lovesac trademarked unique blend of high, medium, and low-density open-cell polyurethane foam. To assure the most comfortable sitting experience, Durafoam is guaranteed never to go flat.

https://www.lovesac.com/contact-us

 

[Apparently the word “Durafoam” is copyrighted for a number of different foams used to make different types of products. So this is not a broad definition of Durafoam. If you see this term again on another product, it’s probably a different mix of chemicals.]

This product doesn’t look to be particularly toxic-conscious.

It’s not something I would recommend, but I can’t make a definitive case for it being toxic either, since I don’t have all the information about the materials needed to make that call.

When I see something unknown like this, I pass. Companies with really good quality toxic-free materials bend over backwards to tell us about those materials. I don’t see that going on here.

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Shopping for Shutters + New Nontoxic “DURAWOOD” Wood Composite Material

These shutters from Smith & Noble are made from a new nontoxic wood composite—they’re nontoxic and affordable.


 

I’m very excited to write this post today because it is the first post that contains links to my new Zero Toxics Knowledge Base. These links give you more information about the material, so I can link to that materials information again and again from different posts. Eventually you will begin to become familiar with materials as you read. Be sure to click through as you read.

One of the reasons why I love to do what I do is because my readers come to me all the time with products I don’t know about and ask me if they are toxic-free.

Often I point out toxic materials and reject the product, but yesterday one of my ongoing consulting clients (who doesn’t buy anything without running it by me first), brought some window shutters to me to check out. At first they looked suspicious, but they turned out to me wonderful, and opened the door to a whole new world of possibilities for affordable toxic-free products.

The description on the Smith & Noble website said “Eco Wood Shutters…These beautifully styled shutters are crafted to bring you all the beauty of wood alongside long lasting superior strength. Made from sustainable materials and featuring a tough poly coating that contains no VOC’s..Patented poly coating resists staining to ensure longevity in any environment.”

Eco wood..the beauty of wood…sustainable materials…sounds like wood but the description doesn’t actually say wood.

So I called customer service for my client and asked about it.

“Yes, It’s wood,” they said, “It’s a wood composite.”

“But this doesn’t make sense, “ I said. “Wood composites outgas toxic chemicals like formaldehyde. Why would they put a zero-VOC finish on a wood composite?”

“I’m pretty sure they made the composite with no toxic chemicals.”

“I need to know for sure what this composite is made of.”

“Well, I don’t know so you should just get our real wood shutters rather than the DuraWood.”

Ah ha! A brand name. I hung up from customer service and looked up DuraWood.

Yes yes yes!

Turns out that DuraWood is a wood and plastic composite that has the look, smell and feel of wood but has the durability of plastic. The great part is the plastic is polyethylene , which is one of the least toxic materials on the planet.

The finish is zero VOCs because it’s not a finish at all. It’s “poly” (polyethylene).

You can go online and type in “durawood” and you will find all kinds of products made with this materials.

I haven’t yet seen a sample of this material, but on paper it checks out as toxic-free.

Smith & Noble also sells Durawood blinds , which would be another affordable choice.

COMMENTARY ON PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

This is yet another example of businesses giving insufficient information on the health aspects of the product.

The material is actually nontoxic, but they don’t tell us that. I had to call customer service and even they didn’t know what to say to me. I had to research the material myself.

It would have been so much better if they would give full disclosure, tell us about the materials, and show us it’s OK for us to use.

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Shopping for Pumpkin Pie + 6 of my favorite ways to celebrate pumpkin

Last night Larry and I went shopping for a pumpkin pie.

Usually I make something pumpkin, but this year I’m so immersed in working on my new website that it was enough to make the organic turkey and and gluten-free cornbread stuffing and yams and cranberry sauce sweetened with local apples and green bean casserole. So I thought we could just buy a pumpkin pie this year. And I’m living with Larry’s family at the moment, so want to make a Thanksgiving dinner that will be familiar to them.

So we went to Whole Foods because I thought they might have house-baked pumpkin pies, but they didn’t. They had two brands of packaged pies. One was not even organic and had a lot of additives that don’t belong in pumpkin pie. The other was gluten-free and vegan and the second ingredient was tofu, so that was not an option for me because I don’t eat soy. Plus it was $20 for a smaller-than-usual pie.

We actually ended up purchasing a huge pie made with organic pumpkin from Costco, which seems to carry more and more organic food every day. Eleven-inch pie for only $7.99. And none of the additives found in the Whole Foods pie.

Times are changing. Whole Foods is no longer Whole Foods. Their basic operating principles are gone.

Next year I’ll go back to baking my own, but it was interesting to see what is going on in the world of pumpkin pie.

Here are some recipes I’ve shared in the past for pumpkin. I highly recommend the Pumpkin Pie for Everyone if you want something close to the standard pie, but try some of the others too. All yummy.

Pumpkin Pie for Everyone

The ingredients are so simple, practically everyone can eat it. There’s no crust (though you could add one if you want) so there are no grains, and there is no sweetener of any kind (though it tastes remarkably sweet!). And it’s so delicious you won’t miss the usually-soggy crust or the sugar. It’s my favorite pumpkin pie ever! RECIPE >>>

Twice Baked Pumpkin

You probably know twice baked potatoes…I roasted the pumpkin, fluffed up the roasted pumpkin with a fork in its shell, added butter and molasses, and some toppings, and baked it again. The result was “awesome”, according to my taste testers. Both preferred this to pumpkin pie and so did I. You get to see the pumpkin in its natural shell and natural state, not pureed, but as nature made it. A wonderful celebration! RECIPE >>>

Twiced-Baked ”Pumpkin Pie”

This tastes like pumpkin pie but is made with a very sweet little squash called “Sweet Dumpling.” If you can find this squash where you live, it’s the best squash. It’s very smooth and creamy and SWEET. So no added sweetener of any kind is needed. RECIPE >>>

Amazing Pumpkin Pancakes

If you’ve roasted a pumpkin for pie and have some pumpkin puree left over, make these pancakes for breakfast. It’s a real pancake made only with pumpkin, eggs and spices, but it has the texture of a pancake and tastes like a pancake. RECIPE >>>

Pumpkin Muffins

These low-carb, gluten-free muffins are moist, delicious, and easy to make. Almond flour instead of wheat flour gives them extra protein. RECIPE >>>

Pumpkin Hummus

Had some roasted carnival squash and cooked garbanzo beans, and thought I would try the two together. Delicious! Autumn in a bowl. RECIPE >>>

How to Roast A Pumpkin . . . And Other Winter Squashes

Please use real roasted pumpkin in these recipes—not canned pumpkin. It’s easy to roast a pumpkin or any winter squash! RECIPE >>>

Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year is…TOXIC


Well! The world is catching up with me. After forty years of talking about things toxic…the Oxford English Dictionary chose “toxic” as the Word of the Year!

The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.

There was a 45% rise in the number of times the word was looked up on the Oxford Dictionary website.

Read more about the word and how the idea of “toxic” is permeating our world here:

OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY: Word of the Year 2018

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San Francisco “Worst Air Quality in the World” Yesterday

You may have heard in the news yesterday or this morning that San Francisco had the worst air quality in the world.

So I just wanted to let you know I’m OK and what is was like here.

Yesterday was day 9 of smoky skies. Larry and I had been staying pretty much indoors for a week and decided to go out to lunch. It seemed in the morning that the sky was clearer than it had been.

But as we were driving around for several hours, I kept saying, “you know, it looks like the smoke is getting worse.” Until finally we both were not feeling well, so we came home to the news that the air quality here was now worst in the world.

There is something called the Air Quality Index that rates how polluted the air is.

We were in the HAZARDOUS range.

Here’s our local San Francisco Bay Area map:

We just stayed in our bedroom with the door closed and turned up our EnviroKlenz air filter the highest setting. We were so relieved to have this filter.

For the past forty years I have made a point to always live where there is clean air. So I can go outdoors anytime I want and be able to breathe. This past week and especially yesterday I haven’t had that option because the air outdoors was worse than the air indoors.

But the EnviroKlenz Mobile air filter did it’s job. We were protected, I slept well, and this morning I’m feeling fine and up working. It’s still smoky outside, but here next to the filter, I can breathe.

The air quality is down to UNHEALTHY this morning, here.

But this is exactly why I think everyone needs an air filter. And one that removes both particles and gasses. If I didn’t already have this air filter, yesterday I would have really wished I had it.

[This morning I’ve been here in my office writing without the air filter for about two hours. After sleeping in the bedroom with it overnight I was feeling really good. Now after two hours of being indoors without the air filter my lungs are irritated and it’s getting hard to breathe. My eyes are burning, I have a headache, getting tired and sleepy…I’m going to the bedroom now to get the air filter and bring it to my office. I really need two air filters, one for each room.]

I’ve arranged a 20% discount on EnviroKlenz Mobile air filters for you, through Tuesday.

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Translator

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Organic and Healthy

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ARE TOXIC PRODUCTS HIDDEN IN YOUR HOME?

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