Submitted questions will be posted with my response by the following Tuesday or before.
Submitted comments will be moderated and approved within 24 hours.
Question from Nancy
I was reading your post on lead in glass ware, you also mentioned Corelle I have a set of dishes and other Corelle pieces, so does it have lead in it ? or is it just drinking glasses, I never knew they made drinking glasses.
Corelle dishes do not release any lead into food. The study referenced in the post tested glass ceramic cooking pieces. Corelle is made of glass ceramic. I don’t believe they make glasses.
Question from Steve
Does anyone know what the least toxic fire extinguishers are? I know the foam and chemical residue they leave behind are very toxic and require a severe clean up job. Are there newer safer materials being used. Many fire fighting foams use highly toxic PFAS chemicals.
Also, do extinguishers emit trace amounts of chemicals when stored in homes?
If anyone can recommend a brand available in the U.S. that would be appreciated.
I am not aware of any fire extinguishers that do not use PFAS chemicals. Readers, any suggestions?
I would not expect the chemicals to release from the extinguisher when not in use but I am not aware of any testing that confirms this.
Glass has been used for centuries to store food and is generally considered to be the safest material to store things in. Recently, there has been a lot of questions from readers about whether or not certain kitchen glassware contains lead. Lead is not typically added to glass as an ingredient, except for leaded crystal, which is clearly disclosed on the label. However, lead is everywhere in the environment and any raw material is likely to have some degree of lead contamination.
The first question we need to answer is, how much lead is in different types of kitchen glassware? Then, the more important question is, does the lead migrate (leach) out of the glassware and into your food or drink?
Whenever I attempt to answer a question like this I first look to scientific studies from independent laboratories and research organizations. There are many studies on migration from glass that generally show, with the exception of lead crystal, there is very limited migration of lead or other elements of toxic significance. The most recent and comprehensive assessment is a two year study commissioned by the Food Standard Agency, which is an independent UK Government department tasked with protecting public health and consumers’ interests in food*. The study looks at several different types of glass including:
- Soda Lime Glass Containers (bottles and jars, including colored glass)
- Soda Lime Tableware (drinking glasses and dishes, including colored glass)
- Borosilicate Tableware (European Pyrex bakeware is made of this but U.S. Pyrex is tempered soda lime glass)
- Glass Ceramics (brands such as Vision cookware and Corelle dishware)
- Decorated Glassware
A Note on Recycled Glass
The study speculates that the primary source of lead contamination is from recycled glass. Colored glass, particularly green glass, typically has the highest amount of recycled glass. Glass with a high percentage of recycled glass can have relatively high levels of lead content (some samples had up to 100 parts per million). The study looks specifically at colored glass to see if higher levels of lead content result in higher levels of leaching.
The Results of the Study
Soda Lime Glass
Soda Lime glass is made with three ingredients – sand, lime and soda ash. It’s the most common type of kitchen glassware.
When tested under conditions that replicate normal use, there were no detectable levels of lead migrating from any of the soda lime glass samples. This means that even if the glass contained lead from contamination, it did not leach out into water. This included colored glass and glass with recycled glass content.
When the glass was deeply scratch, to represent extreme use over time, all but one sample had no detectable levels of lead. The one sample that did was made of amber glass which has the second highest level percentage of recycled glass. The lead release from the one sample was still a relatively low level of 0.3 parts per million (ppm). For perspective, the U.S. Office of Health and Hazard Assessment considers lead use in decorations on the lip of glass to be safe below 200 ppm.
When the glass was tested with a highly acidic solution, about one third of the samples had low levels of lead migration that ranged from 0.4 ppm to 1.2 ppm.
Borosilicate glass’ main components are silica, boron trioxide, soda ash and a small percentage of aluminum oxide. It is more heat resistant than soda lime glass and is thought to be more inert. It does not involve recycled glass which prevents contamination. As expected, the borosilicate glass did not show any migration, even when scratched and when tested with an acidic solution.
Like borosilicate glass, the glass ceramicware did not leach detectable levels of lead under any test conditions.
Decorations on glass can have high levels of lead content. When tested under normal conditions, there was no leaching. However, when the decoration came in contact with the acidic solution it showed high levels of leaching, with one sample at 30 ppm lead.
Other Toxic Elements
The study looked at other potentially hazardous elements in addition to lead. Here are some key findings:
- Colorants, such as cobalt used in blue glass, did not leach.
- There was no detectable migration of aluminum from borosilicate glass even though it is an added ingredient in this type of glass.
Glass is generally a good, safe choice for kitchenware. Here are some specific ways to avoid potential exposures.
- Always avoid leaded glassware.
- Always avoid using glassware with decorations that come in contact with food or drink.
- Always avoid glass not designated food safe.
- Avoid, out of an abundance of caution, glass with decorations on the rim or outside.
- When possible, avoid glass with a high percentage of recycled content. (Green glass typically has highest percentage).
- Look for borosilicate glass cookware and drinking glasses.
- Look for glass ceramic cookware (Visions, Corelle) but be aware of the risks of shattering.
- When glassware is deeply scratched, throw it out.
*The study was conducted by Glass Technology Services Ltd, which is an independent laboratory that services the glass industry, among other industries. Any concerns about impartiality are offset by the knowledge that the conclusions are consistent with historical research. The study is beneficial because it provides a broader assessment than other published studies.
Question from Vicki
I own a rubber pillow. Does that release Formaldehyde?I was exposed to toxic levels from my floor that was bought from China by lumber liquidators so I am sensitive to very low levels.
Can you tell me more about the materials? The term “rubber” can be used for either natural latex or for a synthetic polymer. Do you know the brand? If it is natural latex it will also be helpful to know if it is 100% natural latex or if it is mixed with other materials.
Question from Andie
Hi Lisa ~ so glad we found you! Would you have any tips at all on how to find the safest, non-toxic stove/oven?
So many of us need this product, and it’s impossible to find – any ideas? Also, where can we find your website? Is it debralynndadd.com?
I have not done a full assessment of stoves. It’s very difficult to do because many manufacturers will not disclose all of the materials that they use. Very generally speaking, electric stoves are safer than gas. Read more here.
Here is a thread you might want to look at because over 100 readers have posted comments about stoves that have been particularly problematic.
In answer to your second question, I am currently running the debralynndadd.com website but will be changing the name and adding additional content in the near future. You will still be able to reach the site when you go to debralynndadd.com. You can sign up for the newsletter to keep up-to-date on coming changes!
Question from Ruth
There has been a lot of talk over the years about baking odors out of a house by turning heat way up. I have fragrance in my duct work from former owner’s plug ins. Will baking the house help with this?
I don’t recommend bake-outs because they can potentially cause more harm. Read more here.
Here is the transcript from a radio segment Debra did on removing odors:
Question from Patricia
I am wondering if any of your readers have experience with EMF shielding paint? Is it safe for someone with MCS? Does it work to block RF?
Readers, any experience with this?
Question from Anna
I have a set of white fiesta ware that I bought a 23 years ago. Is it lead and mercury free?
Fiesta Ware has been lead-free since 1986. The term lead-free means that there is not lead added to the product. There are trace amounts of naturally occurring lead in almost all ceramics. The California Position 65, which is among the most stringent standards, requires all ceramic products to be independently lab tested to have leachable lead levels below 0.1 ppm (parts per million). Fiesta Ware releases 50 times less than that amount.
Question from Jane and Georgette
Please, my sister and I cannot keep moving. We are both Identical 59 year old twin sisters. After 7 moves in 11 years here in Phoenix AZ due to smokers and pollutants we moved again recently to a 50+ community.. The situation here is really killing us health-wise. The woman next door does her laundry for 4 hours straight at least 3 times a week usually 6pm-10pm. Her clothes drier’s vent is aiming directly to our bedroom windows which is 10-15 feet away, very very close. She uses the scented drier sheets that is horrendous and we’ve read and really knew anyway, that these sheets are extremely toxic. Anything perfumy is. We use plant-based natural unscented everything in our house and her pollution is entering our home. We knocked on her door a few times and she never answered. We printed a note how toxic the things she uses are and it’s not only bothering us but is also a health hazard for her as well. Her car is gone most of the day, she returns at night and that’s our sleep time and now with the cooler weather we want to save electric and just use the a/c for the triple digit summer days like we have been doing.
This is totally unfair for us . I called AZ Enironmental and they said they cannot do anything because it’s her home and she can use anything she wants for her laundry.
I even called non-emergency police to ask for advice and they said the same, nothing can be done.
Manage meant told us when we were signing the lease that if we have problems with our neighbors we have to work it out with them.
We need your advice how something can be done because it’s “perfect” here, we finally want to relax and enjoy our peaceful living and we are so so tired of constantly moving due to selfish and careless ” people. Help us please?
Some suggestions that have been offered by other readers are suggesting that they use wool dryer balls or providing them information about the toxins in dryer sheets. Read these threads for more details:
Question from R
Do you have any recommendations for how to find toxin-free musical instruments (particularly guitars)? I’ve done some research, but it’s difficult to find guitars without toxic finishes, etc.
Making music has been such an important part of my life, and I would love to have a guitar to play again.
I would look on Etsy and see if you can find someone making guitars who is willing to use a non-toxic finish. I’m not sure if the wood used is solid or a veneer, but if it is a veneer, it is possible to find low-VOC veneers. Another possibility is to seal a regular wood guitar with AFM Safecoat Safe Seal which is designed to seal in off-gassing chemicals. I’m not sure if this would impact the sound but it is the lowest-cost option.
Readers, other suggestions?