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Brentwood “Hybrid” Mattresses


Question from Teresa

Hi Debra,


Debra’s Answer

First, it was difficult to find ALL the materials used in an organized way that was easy to find. There was no materials page, for example, as is found now on other sites.

Nowhere could I find the material used to make the covers. Looking at the photos, the covers appear to be a synthetic material.

They also refer to their mattresses as “hybrid,” which I am assuming means they are part natural and part synthetic.

And they are not GOTS certified organic, though it appears their cotton is.

I took a look at:

This mattress is “completely vegan” but made with polyurethane memory foam.

This one is made from “all natural and organic materials.”

This one is basically a polyurethane foam mattress.

Again materials information was incomplete, so I couldn’t make a full assessment.

If you are looking for a vegan mattress, Naturepedic now makes one, 100% GOTS certified organic.

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Test Your Polyurethane Foam for Toxics at Duke University

Note in this chart that most flame retardants found by this Duke University study using samples from homes were in child care seats (more than half), then sofas, love seats and futons, with chairs, recliners and rockers coming in at a close second, with about half containing fire retardants. This doesn’t mean the others are safe. There are other toxic chemicals in polyurethane foam. This study measures only fire retardants.

This reader had foam from a memory foam bed in her home through the Foam Project at Duke University.

Any US resident can submit a sample of polyurethane foam (PUF) from furniture, child car seats, or any other product containing PUF using the submission form on our website. After completing the form, samples can be mailed to us at Duke University, along with the unique ID number generated from the submission form. Individuals are notified by email upon receipt of their foam sample in the laboratory. Our laboratory will analyze the sample for the presence or absence of 7 common flame retardant chemicals. Approximately 6-8 weeks later, we will mail back a report detailing our findings, along with a fact sheet about the 7 common flame retardants. We can answer any additional questions you may have after receiving your results.

Hi Debra,

I received results from Duke university where they test peoples foam to see what flame retardants are in it.

My sleep number bed bought about 2010 has FM 550, Firemaster 550. Has brominated and organophosphates.

It said a recent study showed some of the components bioaccumulate and act as a thyroid hormone disrupter.

I have thyroiditis and nodules, and mild hypothyroidism.

I had slept on Coleman air mattresses with PVC vapors prior to sleep number.

I sent them 2 samples, a foam pad beneath the topper and the topper fabric with foam inside.

I have a mattress protector that is waterproof on it made with polyurethane and fabric. Could this block the flame retardant?

Debra’s Answer

I can’t give you a definitive answer about the polyurethane film blocking the fire retardant, but here’s what I can tell you.

The answer to the question is about porosity.

The polyurethane film used for waterproofing has a pore size of 0.03 micrometers to 10 micrometers (a micrometer is one millionth of a meter)

Micro-porous coatings and membranes rely on an interconnected network of tiny holes (pores) introduced by various means into an otherwise impermeable polymeric structure. Sheets of polymers can be produced with common salt incorporated which is washed out afterwards to leave voids/pores. Such holes (or pores) are too small to allow water droplets to pass through, but are large enough to allow water vapour to pass through. Micro-porous structures work, as do tightly woven structures, because of the large difference in size between individual water molecules present in water vapour and water droplets of rain, each of the latter consisting of many millions of water molecules held tightly together by surface tension forces. Micro-porous membranes typically weigh 10–20 g/m2and should be durable and resistant to laundering, chemicals and UV degradation.

SCIENCE DIRECT: Micro Porosity

So the question would be, what is the size of the vapor of the fire retardant? And that’s what I don’t know.

But I think this would be an interesting thing for someone to research.

If we could get a more exact number for the porosity of the polyurethane film and the sizes of various vapors, then we could calculate what types of chemical vapors could be blocked by polyurethane film.

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Safety of Plastic Drinking Glasses


Question from Lyle

Hi Debra,

I have two new sets of plastic drinking glasses.

The first is hard plastic; the second is a cheaper and lighter plastic. All of the glasses have either cracked or have turned white from the hot water in my dishwasher.

Are there harmful chemicals in the plastic now that they have been changed from their original materials? Should I toss them and returned to glass? Thanks so much.

Debra’s Answer

It would be impossible for me to assess this.

So I would say return to glass.

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Guava Family Lotus Crib/bassinet


Question from Akh

Hi Debra,

I was trying to search your site. Not sure if this has been asked but have you reviewed the Guava Family Lotus Crib/bassinet? It is the only portable one I have found that in greenguard certified but not sure if it is really non-toxic.

Debra’s Answer

I actually can’t assess this product because no materials are given that I could find.

The website makes many claims but no substantiation.

GREENGUARD certification does NOT mean “nontoxic.” It means that the product emissions fall below an established standard for a limited list of chemicals.

If you need this type of bassinet it may be the least toxic brand available, but without materials disclosure, I can’t assess it.

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Toxic Hotel Room? Ask for Different One

My room at the Kimpton Marlowe Hotel in Cambridge MA, overlooking the Charles River


I just spent four nights at the Kimpton Marlowe Hotel in Cambridge MA. I always stay at Kimpton hotels when I can because they have “eco” policies. These don’t always translate into toxic-free actions, but I consistently find their hotel rooms to be less toxic.

So I was surprised when I walked into my room on Thursday night and the air quality was so bad I could hardly breathe. I put down my luggage and went downstairs to dinner. When I came back I decided the smell was intolerable and I would not be able to sleep in the room.

I went downstairs to the reception desk and told the woman there what was happening. She immediately got keys to another room and went upstairs with me to my room. She took one whiff and said, “There’s something wrong. The air is not supposed to smell like this.”

She took me to the new room (upgraded to a room with a view) and the air was perfect. And it was perfect for my entire stay.

I don’t know if they are filtering this air in addition to ventilation, but the air quality was just exceptional there for a hotel room.

The next evening when I came to my room after being out for the day, there was a beautiful plate of perfectly ripe berries and grapes and a bowl of mixed nuts waiting for me, with a note of apology for the inconvenience.

Now that’s service.

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Have Air Filter—Will Travel

Wednesday I’m leaving on a road trip to Los Angeles, where I will be staying in a standard hotel room for five nights while I attend a retreat for the business course I’ve been taking this year.

I’m bringing along my EnviroKlenz Mobile Unit Air Purifier to use in the hotel room.

Next week when I get back I’ll report on how well it worked to reduce all the toxic emissions typically found in hotel rooms.

Say tuned…


18 September 2018

The EnviroKlenz Mobile Unit worked great on our road trip to Los Angeles.

We stayed at the Crown Plaza hotel right next to LAX airport (not our choices, attending a conference) and we had no problems with air quality at all in our room, because we had our air purifier along.

The room itself was not the worst hotel room I’ve ever stayed in, but it did have all the standard toxic materials and fragrance piped into the hall ways. But we just plugged in the EnviroKlenz Mobile Unit, turned it on, and within minutes the air quality was completely comfortable for us.

And it was easy to take with us on a road trip. This is going to be standard equipment for us now for road trips. Now I just need to get EnviroKlenz to make one small enough to take on a plane.


It fit well in the back of our Prius. It’s no wider than a car seat.

It didn’t take up much room in the hotel room.

It was easy to put on the luggage cart (we laid the unit on it’s side to prevent it from rolling off the cart).

What’s it Like to Live in an RV?

Inside the luxury Airstream trailers at AutoCamp, where you can spend the night in a travel trailer and see what it’s like.


Question from Bonnie

Hi Debra,

I have some health issues and have been stuck in Mi for 10 years. I have an older home and am going to sell. I am considering a RV full time for a couple years.

Just want to get out and live again.

Does anyone here live in one?

I know new ones are toxic but what about a 4 years old one? If it had a lot of real wood cabinets etc would it be doable? There are so many models that look nice and could be comfortable. Just a thought.

Debra’s Answer

This is something Larry and I are considering also and have been researching for the past year or so. You’re smart to ask lots of questions and find out as much as you can before making this decision.

I’m interested, too, in the experiences of people who have done this.

I can tell you some things we are doing.

1. Can you live in a space that small full time?
What we’ve been doing is working on reducing our stuff. This is a process. It’s not something you are going to do overnight. I think everyone has way more stuff than we actually use. We’ve released a lot of things we weren’t using and we still have more.

2. What is essential to have for your way of life?
For the past year Larry and I have been living in two small rooms: a bedroom and an office. But we also have access to a whole house with a kitchen and bathroom and garage and garden and everything else. Coming from a 1600 square foot home this is a big difference. For me, I need space to work. I prepare my own food, so I need a kitchen.

3. Do you really want to travel around to a different location on a regular basis?
I love to travel. I would love to travel and bring my home with me so I have everything I need and know I have a toxic-free environment at the end of the day. But Larry and I have also taken a fair number of road trips in our 30 years together and when you are moving from place to place frequently you are in a strange place over and over. You have to find everything and get oriented over and over again.

Some of you may remember the year Larry and I drove across the country in his Mercedes powered by vegetable oil. That was a fun adventure, but every day we had to arrive in a new city and find some vegetable oil. It was fun at first, but then got tiresome.

I think if we were to do this, we would pick and place and stay for a while and then pick another place. But I’m not sure I want to be a nomad. I like having a home base. I like belonging to a community. I like building relationships.

I would strongly recommend to anyone considering this to take a road trip in a car or van and see what it’s like. Some people clearly thrive on this, and other’s don’t.

4. Can you get an RV that is nontoxic or retrofit a used one to meet your needs?
It can be done. I know Larry and I can do it because we’ve been remodeling houses nontoxic for 30 years. But can YOU do it? Do you have the knowledge and resources and skills?

We just recently found AutoCamp , which is a small chain of “hotels” made up of Airstream trailers. They have them in Guernville, California, on the Russian River, Santa Barbara, and Yosemite. You basically get to have the Airstream trailer experience overnight.

Larry and I live 20 minutes from Guerville so we drove over there last week and looked around. It was beautiful. Like walking into a luxury California-wine-country version of summer camp. We couldn’t go inside a trailer because all of them were booked for the night. We’re going to LA this week and tried to stay at AutoCamp in Santa Barbara, but they were completely booked for the night we would be passing through. We’re going to LA this week and tried to stay at AutoCamp in Santa Barbara, but they were completely booked for the night we would be passing through. Read about how we peeked inside an Airstream trailer at AutoCamp Santa Barbara on our way home from LA.

Here some articles about the realities of life on the road from different viewpoints:

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The beautiful Airstream myth and painful RV reality of life on the road

SUNSET: Tiny home, big dreams

A SMALL LIFE: Things I Wish I Knew Before Living Full-Time in an Airstream

AND THEN WE SAVED: Living Tiny: Seth And Drea’s Airstream – Home Tour

There are lots more. I searched for “airstream living” to find these, since we’re specifically considering an Airstream only (for aesthetic reasons but also because they are exceptionally well-built and originally the least toxic).

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Toxic-Free Tomorrow Happens From What You Do Today

Larry and I love to watch movies together. Our cable TV service comes with more than a thousand free movie, so we’ve been exploring them.

Over the weekend we watched a Disney movie from 2015 called Tomorrowland. In the film there is a land of tomorrow that exists in kind of a parallel universe to today, and the whole story is about the characters trying to get back there.

There is a cool magic button that takes you to Tomorowland temporarily when you touch it.

But the great thing about this film for me was a machine that was monitoring the future, so when characters would say something, the machine would instantly show a different future.

And that just reminded me how making small changes can lead to big effects and change the future.

Making a choice to be nontoxic forty years ago started with a decision and then making a choice to buy the one nontoxic product I could find—Bon Ami Polishing Cleanser—led not only to regaining my own health but helping countless others do the same.

When we look around it can seem like the world is pretty toxic sometimes, but from my viewpoint spanning forty years we have come a long way. Still much more to go, but I see progress.

The more we choose toxic-free products, the more we tell others about them the more momentum we create as well as more demand.

And soon it will be tomorrow and the world will be toxic-free.

Here’s a great article to read on how even slight changes in what we think and do can result in different outcomes: How a Little Choice Can Impact Your Entire Future and Change Your Life.

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Proposition 65 Warning on Readers Eyeglasses

I’ve been wearing reading glasses for years. I have prescription glasses too for driving, but readers work fine for reading and they are inexpensive. I like to have a pair in my purse, a pair at my desk, and a pair next to the bed, and that adds up when you are buying prescription glasses.

Over the years I have purchased a lot of reading glasses and have done some research on the plastics used for frames.

However, I have never seen a warning label on eyeglasses of any kind until Labor Day weekend when I tried to order a pair of glasses online from I got all the way to checkout and was just about to click on the “buy” button when the warning above came up.

What???? I had just purchased a different pair of glasses from a few days before and there was no warning. but now here it was.

I just called and they told me they are required by law to post this warning in the State of California. Not all of their readers contain nickel or BPA, but some do so they put the warning on all. She also could not tell me what specific plastics were used in the plastic frames.

So my problem with this is

1. This is not a useful warning label because these substances known to the State of California to cause cancer may or may not actual be in the product to which the warning label is attached, and

2. We can’t find out by asking the retailer what the materials are for any specific pair of glasses, so we can’t determine if the warning labels apply to this particular pair or not.

The representative from also said that if I went to another website and there was no warning label, that doesn’t mean the glasses do not contain nickel or BPA, it just means they didn’t put the warning label as they are required to do by law.

This warning label applied this way just isn’t helpful and isn’t a warning label at all.

I’m already in the process of doing more research about this. We should be able to buy a pair of glasses and know what material is in contact with our skin for hours on end every day. It may be perfectly fine, but the point is, we should be able to know.

New Toxic Mattress Report From MADESAFE

The nontoxic certification organization MADESAFE issued a new report last week called Detox Your Sleep: Toxic Chemicals in Bedding, Safer Alternative & Certified Products for Healthier Sleep . It was sponsored in part by Naturepedic, manufacturer of mattresses and Coyuchi, manufacturer of bedding.

I want to tell you what’s good about this report and what—in my opinion—it’s missing.

The strength of this report is it’s research into the toxic materials. It contains about 20 pages about toxic materials used to make mattresses, with more than 200 scientific references. It’s a great reference for why we need to sleep on something other than the standard mattress.

But then, only three pages were devoted to the safer mattress materials.

And then three pages on chemicals in bedlinen. Formaldehyde on bedsheets, our most intimate contact with toxic chemicals was mentioned in passing without mentioning any health effects (formaldehyde causes cancer, among other problems).

From my viewpoint, this report really doesn’t tell us how to choose mattresses or bedding, only what the problem chemicals are and the MADESAFE certified brands. Even when you click through to the MADESAFE website, there is no standard for mattresses (beyond their usual does not contain their list of toxic chemicals), nor any description of the choices.

My biggest concern here is that the certified mattresses listed—Naturepedic, Happsy, and Avocado (in progress—are all presented as if they are the same, yet they are VERY different mattresses. Naturepedic and Happsy are both GOTS certified organic mattresses and Avocado is not. See my comparison of Naturepedic and Avocado here.

This gives a false impression that Avocado (and other mattresses that will be certified in the future) are as “made safe” as Naturepedic and Happsy when then are not. I know that often consumers look at a certification and think that all certified products are created equal. This is at least one example where they are not.

Still this report is worth reading if you are interested in the toxic chemicals used to make standard mattresses.

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