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.

Is there a PVC-free Kid’s Pool?

YES! They have hard sides and are made of my favorite plastic—polyethylene!


Question from Romina

Hi Debra,

Do you know of any PVC-free kids pool besides the small hard side baby pools?

My kids are 3 and 5 and looking at a small to medium inflatable pool, but cannot find any option that doesn’t have PVC.


Debra’s Answer

I don’t have kids, but some moms who do have been asking and answering this very question.

I actually found a blog post that said they found a kiddie pool made with one of my favorite plastics—polyethylene! Polyethylne pool toys too! DAILY PEA: A Wading Pool Free of BPA, PVC and Phthalates—Affordable Too.

I had a difficult time finding these online, maybe because they are like an elephant to ship, but I’ve read they are sold at places like Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us, so call around.

Here are more posts about finding PVC-free pools.


RAISING NATURAL KIDS: Safer Pools and Water Toys

NATURALLY MINDFUL: How to Pick a Safe Kiddie Pool

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Aerotoxic Association Calls For International Investigation Into Health Effects Of Toxic Air In Planes

In July 2015 I interviewed a former flight attendant on Toxic Free Talk Radio regarding aerotoxic syndrome—a condition caused by toxic chemical exposure during airplane flights. TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO: Aerotoxic SyndromeL How Flying in Airplanes can Affect Your Health.

Then in January 2017 I posted a link to the GreenMedInfo investigative report on toxic exposures in the aviation industry and other related documents in Q&A: More on Aerotoxic Syndrome.

In June 2017 I posted even more about the subject in Q&A: More on Toxic Air in Airplanes.

And now, this week, the Aerotoxic Association called for an independent public inquiry into the possible technical solutions to contaminated air on planes. An “Independent Public Inquiry at the International Criminal Court in The Hague into all the evidence, for and against, of the impact of toxic cabin air in aircraft.”

““Our hope is that the court will consider all the evidence on this matter and realise that, based on the precautionary principle, it is vital that the known solutions to this problem in terms of air filtration systems are made mandatory in all aircraft that use ‘bleed air’ for their pressurised cabin air.”

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Misleading Claim Number 01350

Our United States government has been quite clear that they don’t want false and misleading statements or impressions made about alleged health or environmental benefits of products. So I’ve been keeping an eye out for misleading communications about the safety of products so I can point out examples to you and we can all learn to be more vigilant about them, and not make misleading claims ourselves.

I found this one today while I was helping a client with some research on an underlayment product. She’s building a new house and her contractor told her that they would be using a specific brand of underlayment beneath the hardwood floors as a moisture barrier. So I went to the website to see what it was made of, and if it would be a problem for my client.

The website clearly stated that the underlayment was make from two pieces of kraft paper laminated together with asphalt. Now asphalt has an extremely strong and toxic odor.

And then I saw the seal above. This website is claiming this product PASSED the CA 01350. I couldn’t find CA 01350 with a quick search, so I called the company. As it turned out I had a typo in my search request and when I later searched using the correct numbers I DID find CA 01350 right here.

I spoke with a manager and asked him, “How does a product that contains asphalt pass an indoor air quality test?”

“It passed for the chemicals that they test for. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an odor,”

“Well, does it have an odor?”

“I can’t really answer that. Some people smell it and others don’t.”

The thing that is misleading about this is not that it didn’t pass the test (although we have no evidence of that, it’s just a claim), but that making the claim that it passed the test gives the impression this is a safe product.

To see if, in fact, indeed somehow a product containing asphalt is nontoxic,  I went looking for the list of chemicals CA01350 tests for.

I found Standard Method for the Testing and Evaluation of Volatile Organic Chemical Emissions from Indoor Sources Using Environmental Chambers, Version 1.1 (2010) on the above-referenced page but there was no link to it. I had to cut and paste the title into a search engine to find it. Here it is.

Here’s a list of products that passed CA 01350 for a specific project.

So let’s see now.

The list of products that this applies to begins on page 21: paints, adhesives, caulks, and various products applied with adhesives.

And here is the list of chemicals they test for and their maximum allowable concentrations:

Here’s a short, incomplete list of Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) chemicals emitted by asphalt plants

Just read the first few and you’ll see the lists don’t match. And this isn’t the complete list of asphalt emissions.

So we really can’t say that passing CA 01350 means that asphalt doesn’t emit toxic chemicals. It just means that the level of chemicals tested is below the maximum allowable concentrations.

So I’d like to know from you, does the seal at the top of this post make you think this product is safe? And is that misleading?

All of this aside, if they are going to make this claim, they should provide:

  • a link to CA 01350
  • a link to the actual test results for the product showing that they passed the test.

But even with these two links, I would still challenge this claim, given that the testing is incomplete for the list of chemicals known to be found in emissions.

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How Can I Get This Perfume Out Of My Hair?

Question from Alicia

Hi Debra,

I had my hair cut in a salon yesterday and the fragrance from the product they put in my hair will not come out. The scent is driving me crazy.

I spent most of the day yesterday trying to wash it out. I showered, I soaked in the tub. I submerged my hair in a 75% vinegar 25% water solution. I used everything from different non-toxic shampoos to dry shampoo, baking soda, orange juice, tea-tree oil + coconut oil, tomato juice, many different vinegar rinses, and a mint/alcohol tincture, among other things. The smell is only diminished about 50%.

It is musky and smells like a cheap men’s cologne from the 70’s. I fell asleep last night with baking soda in my hair and a winter hat covering my hair. Woke up this morning and tried again. It still stinks. My voice is scratchy from irritation. Help!

Debra’s Answer

Order EnviroKlenz Hand Soap and Deodorizer.

It’s a liquid Castile soap that utilizes the EnviroKlenz patented earth mineral technology to neutralize the odors at the source without the use of masking agents of fragrances.

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Need Sensodyne Original toothpaste replacement!!!

Question from Anne

Hi Debra,

Sensodyne Original is being discontinued. I need a NON-MINT flavored toothpaste with the 5% potassium nitrate for sensitive teeth or another de-sensitizer that is just as effective. I live in constant sinus headaches and my teeth are super sensitive. Any specific help would be greatly appreciated!!!

Debra’s Answer

I don’t know of a toothpaste off-hand that meets these qualifications.

Readers, any suggestions?

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Densshield Tile Backer Board


Question from Janice

Hi Debra,

Does anyone have any information or experience with the Densshield tile backer board? My contractor wants to use this for our bath remodel around the shower walls. Can’t find any info online regarding odors or offgassing.

Any other moisture resistant options for tile backer boards?


Debra’s Answer

I’ve always used Hardibacker or Durock. These are cement boards.

The DensShield website says it’s the first backer board with a built-in moisture barrier, and it’s mold-resistant. Their product video reveals that the moisture barrier is an acrylic coating, and the gypsum core is “specially treated.”

So this tells me that this is NOT cement board, it’s a coated gypsum board. I don’t recommend other coated gypsum boards because they smell horrible and their coatings tend to fail.

I would tell him you want a CEMENT BOARD. That will give you a higher quality, as well as toxic-free installation.

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Are Squishies Toxic?

Question from Adrian

Hi Debra,

I was just wondering how safe you think the new kids craze of squishies are? My children really love them! I worked with polyurethane for years and wore air fed respirators but still have sensitivity to it. I can smell the isocyanate in the toys and it gives me an instant headache. What are your thoughts?

Debra’s Answer

Children should NOT be playing with squishes!

It’s interesting that you say you can smell the isocyanate. It’s supposed to completely react and not emit. I’ll look into this more. So just because of that I would say no.

But in addition I see they are SCENTED. So that would be another reason not to play with them or even have them in the house as a decoration.

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Tobys Nose Filters

Question from Bonnie Johnson

Hi Debra,

I was wondering if anyone had tried Toby’s nose filters. I have to use a mask when I go outside because of pollen etc and they are supposed to block it. Kind of like an air purifier in your nose. Debra have you looked at them? Wondering how toxic they are. Thanks

Debra’s Answer

I have no experience with this product. Readers, has anyone used them?

Their website states:

The nose units (and clip) are made of a soft, surgical-grade C-Flex plastic (SDS).

Their white basic particulate filter is made of cellulose and polyester.

Their “dual” white and black filter is made of activated carbon with a polyester backing, which does everything the white filter does, but it’s also effective in reducing odors.

They seem fine to me as far as materials go. I don’t know anything about their effectiveness.

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Kid’s Wagon

Question from Kristen

Hi Debra,

I am looking for a child’s wagon. There are softer foldable ones that seem toxic, but I am worried about glues/ paint/ finishes on wooden and metal wagons. One review for a wooden wagon said “you could smell it through the box.” Do you have any recommendations?

Debra’s Answer

Debra’s Answer:

Wagons come with all kinds of things these days that just add toxic materials.

Just get a plain old-fashioned Radio Flyer Classic Red Wagon or similar wagon that is all metal with a baked-on finished.

The only problem with this wagon may be the rubber tires on the wheels, but there is no getting around that. These should outgas fairly soon.

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Nontoxic Car Seat Covers


Question from Suzie

Hi Debra,

We purchased conversion van yr 2013 Have had the carpets steam cleaned without any fragrances in the van but still smelling some will try the non-toxic in Vairo clean over top…

However the seats are leather and of course treated… I haven’t even been able to ride in the van since we purchased it two years ago. We used sheepskin seat covers and our last fan to help hide the smell of the seats and had to wash them many times to get some of the odor Our. Any recommendations for nontoxic car seat sea covers ?

Appreciate any input thank you!

Debra’s Answer

Yes, actually.

I would make custom seat covers. And these are not as difficult as it sounds.

In fact, when I had my Fiat X 1/9 I took it to a auto upholsterer and had them make new custom seat covers from the cotton canvas I provided. And they were great.

But you could also have an auto upholsterer make COVERS for your seats that you would put over the existing covers.

Plain cotton canvas won’t block outgassing.

But you could put a layer of foil-backed polyethylene plastic that would block, or a layer of carbon felt that would adsorb emissions from the car interior.


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