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 Irene
Hello, with people making do it yourself masks, I have seen that Blue Shop Towels are being recommended as they are considered to block small particles more effectively than any cotton, even if doubled. My concern though is whether they might have a level of toxicity if you are breathing through them. Can you let me know? I am in the process of trying to make masks for my family and I don’t want to put them in danger.
I looked at several different shop towels. Some claim to be made of polyester, some polypropylene, and some recycled fibers. None had a MSDS. What I really would like to know is if they are treated with anything. If you would like to call a company that makes them and try to find out the materials used as well as any treatments I could give you a better answer.
Question from Ruthe
I’ve been hearing some people are using waterproofing sprays on their homemade masks to prevent contraction and/or spread of COVID. This seems like a really bad idea to me – actually using it to breathe through. Is there any way to safely make a bandana waterproof for breathing through?
It sounds like a bad idea to me too. Waterproof sprays usually contain polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) which are highly toxic, particularly to put over your mouth and nose. You could apply beeswax to a bandana to make it water resistant but I cannot tell you if that would do anything to better protect you from the virus.
Question from Audrey
Are there any nontoxic recipes to make a disinfectant for the coronavirus?
I am allergic to alcohol and many scents so I usually use white vinegar and sometimes tea tree oil, but I have heard they are not strong enough to kill this virus. Would borax and/or iodine be a good option? Any direction on this would be helpful.
Unfortunately, I am not a scientist and cannot tell you what works to destroy the novel coronavirus. I have also read that vinegar is not effective. Please be cautious when reading about homemade remedies to protect against the virus and make sure the source is an appropriate expert.
According to Consumer Reports, there is not yet direct evidence that air filtration works to reduce transmission of the novel coronavirus but there is evidence from the SARS virus, which is similar, that air purifiers might help.
HEPA filters have the ability to capture 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter. According to CR, the novel coronavirus is 0.125 microns but the droplets it travels in is around 1 micron. That should be easily captured by the filter. There are many higher-end purifiers that capture much smaller particles which may be even more effective.
Keep in mind that HEPA filters capture the virus but do not necessarily destroy it. Caution is needed when changing filters because it is possible for the virus to live on surfaces for hours or days. There are some other technologies such as PECO or UV light that claim to destroy virus but there is less testing and evidence of results because the technology is less common.
It’s worth noting that CR recommends opening a window if there is a sick person in your home to dilute indoor contaminants including virus. While air purifiers may provide additional protection, they are only capable of capturing particles that remain in the air.
Read more about air purifiers in the new Portable Air Purifier Buying Guide that will be published on the site next week.
Question from Jason
Kinda in a bind here im a guy looking for non toxic sneakers for running and working out in that are seemingly comfortable. However none of the mainstream brands have a shoe good enough imo thats non toxic. I found a couple off of debs older list and was wondering you thoughts on how non toxic and safe they are.
-This one is made up of 100% Recycled Polyester Mesh & Eco Microfibre alternative to leather which is not ideal but it is OEKO-TEX Certified.
I feel your pain. I am not aware of any truly non-toxic running shoe that provide an acceptable level of performance. I feel that the benefits of running offset the minor exposure from a good pair of running shoes and I keep mine in the garage to avoid any off-gassing in the house. That said, it’s always good to be on the lookout for better options.
Kudos to po-zu. While not perfect, these are about the least toxic sneakers I have seen. I can’t attest to the performance but the materials are impressive. The Brisk has slightly better materials than Pace 2 but both are very good options.
The Pace 2 has a sole made of natural latex and a blend of natural latex and cork. The foot mattress is natural latex. These are all good. The glues used are water-base. The outer and lining materials are synthetic but OEKO-Tex certified so at least they are not processed with harsh chemicals. The biggest concerns on a traditional running shoe is the foam insert and synthetic rubber sole. This shoe doesn’t have those materials. The synthetic upper material is not a big exposure.
The BRISK is even cleaner because it does not use any glue. It has some organic cotton in addition to synthetic material.
The shoes from Will’s are vegan and ethically made but use materials that are more similar to traditional running shoes. They have synthetic rubber soles and EVA insoles.
If you end up buying a pair from po-zu, please let us know how they perform and how they hold up.
Just a note to those who are particularly sensitive, I can tell you about the toxicity of the materials but I can’t say what any individual will react to because everyone is different.
Question from Doodie
I just bought a Turapur pitcher, I like it but I taste chlorine in every sip. What is your assessment on this pitcher?
Secondly, I bought a Life Ionizer 3 yrs or more ago……it is an under the sink filtering system with its own spout of alkaline & acidic water nozzles. I sometimes smell chlorine with this one, but might be cause it needs a new filtering system.
I appreciate any feed back you can give me.
Question from Sandy
I stumbled on your web page from 2012 when searching for Spot-X. I really want to buy more but it seems the maker discontinued.
I learned it was made of juglans regia shell. Have you found a replacement item you could recommend to me?
Readers, do you have any other suggestions?
Question from Marisa
First of all, I am LOVING your website and so thankful to have found it! You are a wealth of knowledge.
I am slowly converting our home to the best of my knowledge and abilities to be non-toxic. I am wanting to switch our dishes, bowls, cups, etc. I like what I find in regards to bamboo, but I don’t like that I can’t find any that are microwaveable. I came across a line called Coza on Amazon. It says they are unbreakable and reusable non-disposable Polypropylene plastic bowls. I have found some sites that say polypropylene is non-toxic and others are not as clear. What are your thoughts on polypropylene? And what would be your recommendation for non-breakable, re-useable, microwaveable dishes for my children? I have 4 young ones and I would like these to be something we can use for years to come. I like the looks of the Natura Green- Bamboo Whirl Bowls also on Amazon but they are not microwaveable. Thank you in advance for your time and input. It is GREATLY appreciated!
I’m glad you are finding the site helpful. Unfortunately, I am not aware of a microwaveable bowl that is unbreakable. Polypropylene is typically one of the safer plastics but any type of plastic can have additives that are harmful. You can read more about that here. Additionally, no plastic should be used in the microwave.
While I rarely use a microwave, I do have small pyrex glass bowls that are microwavable and more durable than many other glass bowls.
When my kids were little, I used stainless steel plates and bowls. Could you perhaps microwave the food in a safe container such as glass and then put it on a stainless steel plates or bowls for them to eat? Life Without Plastic is a great source for dishware for kids and adults.
Readers, do you have any suggestions?
Question from Becca
I am not familiar with any. Readers, suggestions?
Question from Mary
Traditional sneakers can have many materials that produce a smell. I can’t tell specifically what it is. You can read some recommendations from readers here, as well as safe shoe options from Debra’s List.