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January 12, 2010

Secret chemicals in consumer products

On January 4, the Washington Post published this article: Use of potentially harmful chemicals kept secret under law.

It begins, "Of the 84,000 chemicals in commercial use in the United States -- from flame retardants in furniture to household cleaners -- nearly 20 percent are secret, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, their names and physical properties guarded from consumers and virtually all public officials under a little-known federal provision."

The article goes on to say that the policy was designed 33 years ago to protect trade secrets in a highly competitive industry. But now many--including the Obama administration--are recognizing that this law makes it impossible for regulators to control toxic chemicals in products for consumers to find out which toxic substances they might be exposed to.

Currently the law protects the financial interests of business while putting the health of consumers and the environment at risk.

The article gives one example of a nurse being exposed to a toxic chemical while treating a patient, and then herself having symptoms from the same chemical. She was unable to find out exactly what the chemical was.

In my opinion, there should be full disclosure of all substances and materials used in all consumer products. I've been saying this for decades. Otherwise, we cannot make informed decisions.

The Obama administration is working on reducing secrecy.

Fortunately, there are many nontoxic products available, made by companies who choose to not use secret chemicals. Many of these products can be found on this blog and listed on Debra's List.

I want to thank everyone who sent me this article this week and all of you who continue, every day, to be vigilant about finding and sharing products we can all use that do not contain secret harmful chemicals.

Debra :-)


1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


ABS Food Grade Plastic

QUESTION:

Hello Debra,

I am looking to purchase a pitcher with a water filter. Brita's and Pur's pitcher is made out of styrene. Zerowater's pitcher is made out ABS food grade plastic. It sounds safer than styrene but I'm not exactly sure what ABS plastic is and was hoping you would be able to help me out with this.

Thanks so much!

POSTED BY ETHEL :: MASSACHUSETTS USA :: 6:53 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

ABS is the abbreviation for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. It is a higher grade styrene that is harder and more stable. The other pitchers may also be ABS, but not labeled as such.

I can't really recommend the water filters you are considering. They don't work as well as even an undersink filter, which can be purchased for about the same amount of money.

Debra :-)


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January 11, 2010

RV's for Chemically Sensitive

QUESTION:

As one with allergies and moderate chemical sensitivities, I have always been leery of RV's. However, we are getting closer to retirement and enjoy visiting state and national parks....and finding hotel/motels can be problematic and limited. We found a dealer in our region who carries AIRSTREAM, as we have always wanted to look at them and have basically ruled out other small/medium trailers we have viewed. We found very interesting in several that they had the aluminum skin on the inside, too, as a wall covering. That was intriguing as it would be one less man made covering to outgas formaldehyde and such, and would provide more of a seal. There still was, of course some cabinetry and such of man made components. Also, the dealership owner is one of the few we have found who understood thoroughly about the formaldehyde issue (although there was a lot of press about the sick folks in FEMA trailers). They carried a few other brands, and he was talking about last summer when he was out working/tidying in the trailers in high heat that he got sick in one of the other ones, from the outgassing of the fumes. After stepping into a Denali at the dealership, we were able to tell the great difference in air between it and the Airstream. We have learned in our home to have as much solid wood as possible and no particle board, plus no chemical cleaners, fragrance, etc.

We are nearly scared to make an investment, but.....Any information, suggestions, experiences, etc. would be greatly appreciated!

I have bought several of your books over the years and always enjoy the blog.

Thanks,
Cathy

POSTED BY CATHY C :: TEXAS USA :: 8:17 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers? Your experience?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — TRAVEL :: 2 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Argan Oil

QUESTION:

Hi Debra,
I've been reading/hearing a lot about how amazing this product is for hair but the ones I've seen in stores are mixed with synthetic ingredients. I was wondering if you or your readers know of or have tried a brand of Argan Oil that is 100% pure and Natural.
Thank You!

POSTED BY RM :: MASSACHUSETTS USA :: 8:09 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Here are some useful links about argan oil that include information on what it is and it's uses as well as sources for pure organic argan oil.

www.care2.com/greenliving/is-argan-oil-miraculous.html

www.zamourispices.com/zarganoil.html?gclid=CJu2_9nUnZ8CFRmfnAodqlyu_w

www.arganoils.com/arganoil.html

www.josiemarancosmetics.com/product.html?pid=1070

www.edenallure.com/

Debra :-)


1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Are Air Compressors Toxic?

QUESTION:

We will be using an air compressor to install hardwood floors inside the home, using various pneumatic nail guns, staplers, and hammers in the process. The air compressor will be located in the room of installation or just outside the door. Are these items toxic or do they prove difficult for people with MCS? There are oiled and oil-less models, is one anymore or less toxic than the other? The manufacturers include DeWalt and Campbell-Hausfeld which are the ones we are looking at.

POSTED BY GIGI :: VIRGINIA USA :: 7:59 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I don't think they are, but I haven't ever used one in an installation. Readers? Any experience?

Debra :-)


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New Hot Water Heater - Metallic Fumes

QUESTION:

I recently had a new hot water tank installed and every time I run the hot water whether I run it very hot or lukewarm I smell a kind of metallic burning odor in the air and also on my dishes after rinsing them in the hot water. The plumber did add some copper pipes and used solder on the joints. I'm wondering if the smell could be lead related?! The water temperature is set at factory default which is 140 degree F. Any opinions, comments and experiences would be appreciated. I suffer from MCS and am very disturbed by this. I'm concerned about showering or bathing in the water. Thank you.

POSTED BY CARINIKA :: QUEBEC CANADA :: 7:59 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — TOXICS :: 1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Safe Window Shades

QUESTION:

There's a clean shade called Earth Shade.

POSTED BY NANCYK :: ILLINOIS USA :: 7:11 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Thanks for posting this. This company has a good variety of shades in many styles and materials and even understands the needs of people with MCS. This is a great resource, since it has been difficult to find good window shades.

Debra :-)


0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Trip to Europe for MCS

QUESTION:

i am planning on going to europe in the spring;i am chemically sensitive,so i would like to find out how / and what experiences people with MCS had
on one hand,i am told that europe is a waaaaay much greener than the usa; on the other hand i am told that the smokers are all over,and there is rare to find cafes,bistros,etc,smoke free

is "the downy and tide " an " epidemic,as it is here?

do people acknowledge chemical sensitivities,and know the NAME/DEFINITION?

is a trip to the laundromat,a " TRIP TO HELL " ,as it is in the usa ?

i dont dip/soak myself in chlorinated pools,and to find a hotel,cross coutry here,in the usa,is a nightmare,with ALL the cleaning toxic stuff,febreeze and similar sprays,etc

what about eating organic?
no oriental-deepfried- mac donalds-alike junk

EVEN IF I DONT REACT TO THE JUNK, " IGNORANCE IS NOT A BLISS ANYLONGER !!! "

please help

the more details,the better,please
thanks

POSTED BY MIKO :: TEXAS USA :: 6:38 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I went to Germany last September. I can tell you some pros and cons.

Yes, cigarette smoke is everywhere. A lot of "green" in Europe has to do with energy savings, and they do have a lot of natural and herbal products, especially in Germany and England, but I didn't notice a particular awareness of MCS.

I had no problem getting organic food in Cologne, a major city.

A benefit is that many of the buildings in Europe are very old, and the lesser-priced lodging is usually in an old building. I found a lovely old building to stay in with a big room with big windows into the back garden, not on the street. It was very quiet and no exhaust fumes from the street.

The most difficult part is the plane trip. I think my flight was 17 hours from Florida to Germany, with two stops to change planes. (There was even organic food at the airport!). They do spray something in the plane, some kind of pesticide or disinfectant, but for me it's just difficult to be in the closed plane for the transatlantic flight, which is something like 8-9 hours from the East Coast, and only breathe that recirculated airplane air. And then, when you get to the airport, the air is full of jet fuel and plane exhaust.

It was a major victory for me to go to England in 1987 and not react. I went for a month and was fine. That was my proof I had recovered from MCS. That said, I think it would be difficult for someone with MCS to make the trip.

Debra :-)


1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Commercial Ozone Generator for Paint Fumes?

QUESTION:

I've been reading that commercial ozone generators (the kind that you can't be around when they are running) will actually remove paint fumes from the air. Is this true? And what if the paint is still off-gassing? Would you keep using it as the paint off-gasses? Would it help the process go faster?

It has been two weeks since my office was painted with Sherwin Williams Harmony. I know, not too long, but we can't use the heat on that side of the house because the paint fumes travel around the ducts! I did block off the register and return, but obviously I can't make a perfect seal.

Plus, I really thought the paint would dry and cure faster than that. My mistake -- when I tested it, I put my tester board in the sun, so of course it dried odorless in two days. No sun in my office. My husband through that super-heating the room made things worse, so we've just be airing it to the outside.

So.... will an ozone-generator help? Should we go back to super-heating? Help!

POSTED BY ANGELIQUE :: AFMARCOM: WATCH ME BUILD THIS SITE! :: WWW.AFMARCOM.COM :: ARIZONA USA :: 4:32 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

HEAT THE ROOM. Of course superheating "made it worse." That's what it does. It makes the paint outgas the fumes. Keep heating it, then when you air the room out, it will be better.

I've been doing this for more than twenty years and I've never had this method fail.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — AIR :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


4 Year Old Memory Foam Mattress

QUESTION:

I'm new to the concept of outgassing. I've had allergies for years, and they did seem to get worse when I bought my memory foam mattress in the 2004/05. I finally broke down and went to an allergist, who will be testing me for allergies in a couple of weeks. I have 2 questions:

1) Is outgassing bad enough in a tempurpedic mattress that it's worth it to replace it after 4-5 years of sleeping on it? Aren't there other (cheaper) options? I had really hoped to keep it for 30 years. It has helped my back problems considerably, although I'm not surprised that it might be connected to my allergies because I do wake up with allergies every day, even though I'm pretty good about using allergy covers and cleaning the sheets in hot water pretty regularly.

2) Is there a way my allergist can test me for being allergic to chemicals like the ones in the bed? How do I know which chemicals I'm allergic or sensitive to? I can't continue living with constant allergy symptoms!

I'm so glad I found this site. Thanks so much in advance for your help!

Best,
Hoping for Better

POSTED BY HOPING FOR BETTER :: TEXAS USA :: 4:22 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

In general, materials that outgas do so most when they are new and less as time goes by. If you noticed an increase in your allergies after you started sleeping on your Tempurpedic mattress, I would not continue to sleep on it.

Certain doctors can test you for chemical sensitivities by using what is called "provocative neutralization" testing. To find a doctor near you, visit American Academy of Environmental Medicine.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — TOXICS :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Cleaning up lamp oil spill

QUESTION:

As always, thanks very much, Debra, for your wonderful website. I have learned so much from it.

My question is how would you clean up a spill of petroleum lamp oil from a kitchen floor and wall. We have inherited several beautiful oil lamps from my mom and I had mistakenly thought all of them were empty until two days ago, when my daughter accidentally knocked one of these lamps over. It fell on a tiled floor and against the wall of the kitchen and the floor length side of a wood desk. The smell was horrendous and is still terrible after having my husband clean up the site five times already. We have the windows open as much as possible (it is freezing here in Northern VA)and I sprinkled a lot of baking soda on the surface. I am sure the wall also absorbed a great deal of it and I am not sure what else to do. I need to be in the kitchen and right now I can only stay there for a few minutes. Is there a special cleaning agent that would help? How about the wall and the wood? Thanks so much!!

POSTED BY JUDITH :: VIRGINIA USA :: 4:17 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers, any experience with this?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — AIR :: 2 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Mold problem

QUESTION:

i live in a co-op in yonkers new york. how do i or who do i contact to test my water? the woman below me has a washer and we are not supposed to. the management knows i have been sick and really hasn't d,one anything. i am concerned that there is back up in the water. sometimes when i shower my body tingles. it freaks me out!! I also get exttremely dizzy, nautious,s and tired. I did three mold tests in my bedroom and it was positive for black mold. the management office and board president didn't care even though i wanted them to see. The building inspector came out and didn't see mold in my house but said that it could be in walls. but how do i test for that and other odorless fumes that this washer can be causing.

any help thank you!

sonja

POSTED BY SONJA :: NEW YORK USA :: 2:58 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

It sounds like you have several problems here:
* illegal washer in the unit below
* management not responding to your needs
* back up in the water (from where?)
* extremely dizzy, nauseous and tired
* bedroom tests positive for black mold

I'm not sure that all of these problems are due to the illegal washer in the unit below.

I would start with a professional mold inspector, if you've tested your bedroom and it is positive for black mold. You need professional mold remediation and your manager needs to pay attention to this.

Debra :-)


0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


silk clothing

QUESTION:

Hello Debra.

I read that you don`t use silk clothing because of the climate you live. Being a northerner, I am quite interested in researching silk clothing. Particularly I`m interested in finding out if silk clothing is high in toxic residuals.

Do you have any suggestions on how I would find out about silk clothing, especially the clothing sold by a company called Winter Silks.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Shelly

POSTED BY SHELLY :: BRITISH COLUMBIA CANADA :: 2:53 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

In my book Home Safe Home, I do recommend slik on page 324. I have worn silk in the past and found no problem with it.

Silk is a filament spun by silkworms, which are killed in the harvesting of the silk thread.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — TEXTILES :: 2 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Hyperparathyroidism

QUESTION:

Hi, Debra:

I usually try to provide answers that might be helpful to subscribers to Green Living, but this time I have a question and some information that might be helpful to those who have sensitivities.

My wife Joanne, who is chemically sensitive, has recently been diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism, which usually is caused by a non-malignant adenoma (tumor) on one or more of the four parathyroid glands located in the neck. Hyperparathyroidism causes too much calcium to circulate in the bloodstream, which can cause a host of problems including neurological, cardiac, autoimmune, and skeletal problems.

If I may make a request to your readers, Debra, I would really appreciate it. I'd like to know if any of your chemically sensitive subscribers has hyperparathyroidism and if they have or have had it would they either respond to this post. I'm looking for information on their diagnoses and treatments, as well as whether they're sensitivities lessened after treatment and whether the disease runs in their families. I'm interested in this because numerous people in Joanne's family are chemically sensitive and at least one of them has been diagnosed with "calcification of the brain," which indicates a calcium regulation problem. Hyperparathyoridism is very often familial and we're wondering if their is a correlation between this disease and some cases of chemical sensitivity.

Also, I'd like to pass along an excellent web site by the top parathyroid surgeon in the country, Dr. James Norman, the inventor of the mini-parathyroid surgery used today to remove tumors: www.parathyroid.com. The site provides exhaustive info on this underdiagnosed condition.

One final thought. Dr. Norman stresses one point over and over again on his site. High calcium on a blood test is overwhelmingly caused by primary hyperparathyroidism from a tumor on one of the parathyroid glands in the neck. Many GPs know very little about calcium and the parathyroid glands and they will take a "wait and see" attitude towards elevated calcium levels. Because calcium levels in the body are so tightly regulated by the parathyroid glands and there are so few reasons why calcium levels can become elevated, he recommends that patients get the combination parathyroid hormone and ionized calcium level test done, even if the calcium level is 10.3, where 10.2 is the top of normal reference. So, if you or a loved one have even slightly high calcium, please get tested.

I look forward to hearing from anyone who has or has had hyperparathyroidism, especially if you or a loved with the disease is also chemically sensitive.

Thanks!

Peter in CT

POSTED BY PETER IN CT :: CONNECTICUT USA :: 2:51 PM
1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Burnt pots

QUESTION:

Is it harmful to use pots that have been burned (but cleaned thoroughly afterward)? Many of the pots we use in our home have been burned a number of times. My mother often attempts to steam veggies and ends up letting all the water evaporate so that the bottom of the pot is dry and black. I\'m thinking this must produce some toxic effect of some sort. But she is adamant about the fact that it is perfectly fine to just clean the pot and use it again.

Also, I realize your list has a wealth of information on non-toxic cookware but I cannot really afford to buy an entire set. I was hoping you could recommend a good non-toxic, small size pot that I can use for making single serving meals for my dog (and myself). Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks.

POSTED BY DENISE :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 2:33 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I don't know about how burning a pot affects the toxicity or leaching of the metal.

For one inexpensive pot, I'd probably get an old Visions pot at a flea market.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — GENERAL HOUSEHOLD :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Laundry softener, soy free

QUESTION:

Hello Debra, i have re-read all of the laundry posts, i have found laundry detergent by Ecos that is soy free, to your knowlege, is there also a fabric softener that is soy free?

My 2 childner have dairy, soy, fragrance etc.. sensitivities so i have to be extra careful.

Thank you.
Eva.

POSTED BY EVA :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 1:46 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

You don't need to use fabric softener on natural fiber clothing.

I haven't researched a soy-free fabric softener, since I don't recommend synthetic clothing.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — CLEANING :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Remove firewood soot from clothing

QUESTION:

I would like to know how to remove soot from clothing caused by a wood burning stove.

POSTED BY GLORIA SIMALA :: ARIZONA USA :: 1:36 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I've never done this. Readers, any suggestions?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — CLEANING :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


orange juice pulp

QUESTION:

Question: what to do with my left over orange pulp. We received a bag of oranges for the holidays and went to town juicing most of them. Now I am left with alot of pulp. Any recipes? I know it is good for the compost pile but would like to think it could be used some other way. Thanks!!!

POSTED BY LACE BLUE-MCLEAN :: FLORIDA USA :: 12:46 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Here's a site that answers all your questions about using leftover pulp from juicing, including concerns you probably haven't even thought of. Includes several links to sites with recipes for using juice pulp, including orange. Juicer Pulp Recipes

Now, that said, I don't juice anything. I blend the whole fruit or vegetable with water so I get all the fiber and everything. No pulp leftover because the WHOLE fruit or vegetable is in the drink.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — FOOD :: 2 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Please HELP! Overpowering frangrances in my MIL`s house

QUESTION:

Hello Debra, i love your website as ever since i have discovered it a few weeks ago, i have been a faithfull reader daily.

I do hope that YOU and your readers can help. Here is the thing, my mother in law uses fragrance products such as Fabreeze, Glade plug ins, the whole nine yards, etc all the time and has been for a LONG time so these TOXIC materials are in the walls, furniture, rugs...

My mil does not consider these TOXIC, however i do + my 2 young children , aged 1 & 3 and myself included are at risk, ecpecially since we all have allergies and asthma.

Please help! What can i tell her? And what is worse, there is a good chance we will be moving into her house in a few months...i feel at loss.

THANK YOU!

POSTED BY EVA :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 10:55 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

All these products you mention ARE toxic and you should not be breathing them. It may be difficult if not impossible to remove them from her house if she has been using them for years.

I would try to find another place to live and not move into her house if at all possible.

Readers, any suggestions?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — HEALTH :: 1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Skin care without herbs & fragrance

QUESTION:

I am sensitive to perfumes and herb oils so it has been quite the journey for me to find organic and suitable skin care line that i could use daily.

Five days ago i purchased Facial mist Rare Minerals from Bare Escentuals and i broke out in hives just after first use. That, unfortunatelly happens to me often.

Any suggestions? My skin is combination ( dry with oily T zone).

Thank you, Eva, California.

POSTED BY EVA :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 10:49 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers? What do you recommend from your experience? I use nothing more than handmade soap on my body and face.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — BODY CARE :: 4 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


gel coat on fiberglass tubs/showers?

QUESTION:

Hi there,

Does anyone have an opinion on the safety of a fiberglass tub with a gel coat? Many fiberglass tubs, showers, and pools are made with a gel coating integrated into the surface, made of polyseter resin. The gel coats can also contain additives such as UV reducers, pigments, fillers, etc. The most affordable japanese soaking tubs (the style tub that we want) are fiberglass with gel coats. I've heard that acrylic is relatively unhealthy.

Our desire is to have a japanese style soaking tub that is as safe as possible. My husband suggested stainless steel (I tried to explain that some people have health concerns about it but he wasn't convinced). I considered cast concrete but am concerned about sealants. We found a nice fiberglass model that we like, but I need to know if the gelcoat is ok. Thanks =)

POSTED BY HOPE :: NEW YORK USA :: 10:35 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

There may be many different gel coats with different additives that may or may not leach, so I don't think one could say across the boards that they are all safe or harmful. I think you're going to need to evaluate the gel coat of the specific tub you are considering.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — GENERAL HOUSEHOLD :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Buzzing powerlines in bedroom

QUESTION:

Hello and thanks in advance for any help or suggestions you might have! We live in a 1972 raised ranch in CT and all 3 of our bedrooms are at one end of the house where all of the power lines are attached. In one particular bedroom, you can hear a distinct buzzing sound. The power lines and boxes are nearest to this bedroom on the outside of the house. My question is: how dangerous is this? We were planning to use that bedroom as our children's room. All 3 bedrooms are small and at the same end of the house so I'm not sure how much of a difference switching bedrooms would be in terms of proximity to the power lines.

POSTED BY KATRINA :: CONNECTICUT USA :: 10:21 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

From your description it sounds like all the bedrooms would have high EMFs. The point where the electricity comes into the house has the strongest EMFs.

My suggestion would be to get a gaussmeter and actually measure the EMFs so you know how strong they are. You may need an EMF professional to advise you on how to remediate the situation so as to have a safe room for your children.

Debra :-)


0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


December 28, 2009

termites

QUESTION:

Hello Debra,
And once again thank you for your expertise. I have read all of your posts regarding termites. For existing termite damage in a house where the wood has already been painted or treated or is not exposed, what is your choice of treatment. From what I've read, I don't believe that I can use Timbor. I've read many sites claims about XT2000 Orange Oil. I'm finding termite damage on exterior painted wood trim as well as on two decks. It's a frustrating situation and I'd appreciate your opinion.
Thank you very much.

POSTED BY KB :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 2:36 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

It's hard to give you advice with such limited information. I don't have experience with the orange oil. Why can you not use Timbor? Can the infested wood be cut out and replaced?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — GENERAL HOUSEHOLD :: 3 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Searching for Barrier Cloth that is NOT organic

QUESTION:

I need to cover some dining room chairs and want to cover it first with barrier cloth to keep dust mites out of my cotton batting. Then cover with upholstery fabric. I am extremely sensitive to organic cotton. It makes my finger swell, crack open and bleed within minutes of touching it and I cannot be in the same room with anyone wearing organic cotton. I have done catalogue searches and internet searches to no avail. Some years ago I got non-organic barrier cloth from Heart of Vermont, but they no longer carry it. I'd love to know where I can locate non-organic barrier cloth or how to make organic barrier cloth safe for me to use. Help!

POSTED BY MAUREEN :: FLORIDA USA :: 2:20 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — TEXTILES :: 2 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


oven cleaner removal

QUESTION:

I just moved into a new apartment and I don't know if the previous tennant used toxic oven cleaner or not. I have no reason to believe he did (there is a self-cleaning feature), but in case I would like to clean the oven in a nontoxic manner that would remove any toxic residue that could exist. My thought was just to scrub the oven with water, but I didn't know if there was a better method. I could run the self-clean oven but I am hesitant to do this if it is unnecessary since I understand that this can also release toxins (I know you are supposed to remove birds when you run the self-clean cycle). Could you tell me how best to do this so that I can have more confidence that dishes that I cook in this oven won't have any toxins in it?
Thank you.

POSTED BY HEG :: FLORIDA USA :: 2:15 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I'm not concerned that you would have toxic exposure from a previous tenant's use of toxic oven cleaner. The active ingredients in oven cleaner are ammonia (which is very volatile and would bake off) and lye (which does not outgas).

When we moved into the house we live in now, we used the existing stove and oven and never had any odors come from it.

So I think, just do nothing. I don't see a danger here.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — TOXICS :: 0 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


hand held steamers

QUESTION:

Anyone know of a really good hand held steamer priced under $50.00 to be used for getting into those tight spots in kitchens and baths.

I had a Euro Pro once and it seemed to work OK but leaked alot and I ended up having to send it in for repair because the tube connection to the nozzle detached inside the steamer and was useless. I want one that steams for awhile before it needs to be refilled also and a longer cord would be good.
Thanks for your comments

POSTED BY LEA :: ARIZONA USA :: 2:14 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — CLEANING :: 3 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


corn-derived ingredients in meds, foods,etc.

QUESTION:

Over the course of many years, I have gone from diagnosed corn allergy to painful intolerance, probably in part because I did not know glycerin, ascorbic acid, and other commonly used ingredients are primarily corn-derived.

Where can I learn more about ingredients, especially chemical products used in meds, that have been created from corn? I refer to the Connors' list religiously.

Thank you. Marty

POSTED BY MARTHA ISTVAN :: FLORIDA USA :: 2:14 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Readers? What sources do you use?

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — HEALTH :: 1 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


Wool Mattress and Oil-based primer

QUESTION:

I have to decide whether it would still be advisable for me to purchase wool mattresses and bedding.

I will be repainting my entire interior walls with low or no VOC latex paints. However, it seems as if I have no choice but to prime some of my walls with an oil-based primer first due to the fact that all of the painted walls have oil-based paint, and SOME of those were had texture, and/or wall paper. This is the case for the bedrooms for which I wanted to place wool mattresses in. However, I remember reading somewhere (I think on this blog) that wool absorbs formaldehyde. Can I bake out the primer after I paint over it with latex and once that is done, purchase my wool mattresses? Or do I have to choose between the oil-based primer and the wool mattresses and bedding? It looks as if mudding the entire interior wall surface is not feasible. Do you have any other recommendations? I would not like to lay in a bed that is full of formaldehyde due to absorbing the outgassing.

POSTED BY GIGI :: VIRGINIA USA :: 1:54 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I just learned of a product called Enviro-3000, which is a very low odor, zero VOC primer and sealer. I haven't used it yet myself, but I heard about it through someone who had used it that has a wife who is chemically sensitive, and she tolerated it. It can be used on most surfaces, so you might see if you can used that instead of oil-based primer.

It will take a lot of time or heat to cure the oil-based primer. If it is the only option, apply the primer and dry it thoroughly with heat before applying the paint and brining in the wool mattress.

Debra :-)


CATEGORY — INTERIOR DECORATING :: 2 COMMENTS :: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration


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