Toxins in Dust

No matter how much you clean there are bound to be dust bunnies hidden away behind the door, cabinets or closets. Unfortunately those little dust bunnies contain phthalates, flame-retardants, fragrances and parabens.  100% of all samples tested in a 2016 analysis Toxins in Dustrevealed that 10 toxic chemicals (others included mixtures of 45)

Breathing in and touching these particles toxins can cause damage to the reproductive system, nervous system, hormone disruption, and insulin resistance. There is no way to eliminate every particle of dust in your home. What are some helpful, more doable solutions?

Phthalates originate from vinyl and fragrance. Do your best to eliminate all items in your home that contain fragrance (Essential Oils are a safer choice). This includes personal care products such as shampoo, perfume and lotions. Cleaning products are big offenders. They are often filled with “fragrances” to help your house smell clean.  I clean the majority of my house with vinegar, baking soda, essential oils and Dr. Bronners castile soap. It’s surprisingly effective, cheap, and non-toxic to use these several ingredients.

Flame-retardants are still hidden in odd places.  When I was a kid they were on all our pajamas (This is no longer the case). Unfortunately, pet beds, crib mattresses, memory foam, and upholstery still contain flame-retardants.

PFOA and PFOS are lurking in your non-stick cookware, fleece jackets and even water resistant clothing (see previous blog post).

Parabens are likely still in your shampoos and beauty care products (read your labels and make a switch!).

We all own some level of these things regardless of how conscious we try to be. You don’t need to go crazy and throw everything away. As old things wear out, replace these items with safer choices.  In the meantime, and when you do, a vacuum with a HEPA filter is the way to go. Personally I am a huge fan of the Dyson line. We owned one for many years and it finally gave out. I recently replaced it with the Dyson Ball Animal 2 and I can’t begin to tell you what we are pulling out of my frequently vacuumed (not that old and no shoes in the house) carpets.  It’s mind blowing (and gross) but it’s an extraordinary vacuum cleaner.

toxins in dust


Toxins in Tampons

This one blew my mind a little, mostly because I overlooked it for so long.  We know over 90% of our cotton is genetically modified so Toxins in Tampons  it can withstand being doused in glyphosate. (A known carcinogenic weed killer). We know everything you put on or in your body ends up in your bloodstream. So why do we not discuss tampons?

I am aware organic cotton has its benefits and my kids sleep on organic cotton sheets. They wear a lot of organic cotton clothing, partly due to my fond addiction to Hanna Anderson clothing. We own plenty that is not organic and I do not worry about it. Then again, clothing is not being inserted INTO your body. The vaginal membrane has shown to be more absorptive of medicine and other materials than any other part of the body.

Are all ingredients disclosed?

Tampons are considered a “medical device” which means all ingredients do not need to be entirely disclosed.  The word fragrance itself can contain any number of over 3,400 chemicals, many of which are toxic. Although the bleaching process has changed over the years and dioxin are said not to be a factor-in recent studies they have been found in more than half of the tampons/sanitary napkins tested. So why worry about Dioxin? It is a toxic chlorine compound linked to cancer.

Some studies conducted to decide if these ingredients are safe most are paid for by the companies themselves. Information to consider. In addition the consensus is that in small amounts these ingredients are deemed to pose no health risk. Unfortunately for woman, they tampons for several days a month for many years.

Toxins are cumulative in the body.  It is likely very true that using non organic tampons one month or year is not going to destroy your health. However the average woman menstruates for 30-40 years.   That is an estimated 12,000 tampons. Since we have not been using the same pesticides for 40 years we have no way of obtaining a study on the safety of non-organic tampons over a lifetime.  The FDA currently has no plans to fund any studies on the safety of tampons.


This is one item that has been swapped out for organic in my house.  This post has been written a few months waiting to be used. Recently I stumbled upon a new company called Lola. I watched their intro video and loved that they are a company started by two women looking to share a better product-much like The Chemical Free Me is. You can subscribe and even personalize what size tampons you want in your box each month. You can easily skip months or set it for every other month. You can add liners of the size you need as well.  All organic cotton-nothing else! Brilliant!

Read their about us below and visit their website and find yourself a safer set of feminine products –while supporting a small business.

We met in the summer 2014, introduced by friends who had a hunch we’d hit it off. They were right. Jordana was in grad school, working on the early concept that would become LOLA, while Alex was at a tech startup. After a drink or two, Jordana asked Alex, “Have you ever wondered what’s in a tampon?” Turns out, she hadn’t.

That small question sparked a big idea – could we create an organic tampon and a brand that was completely transparent with customers about the ingredients in its products? After all, if we care about the ingredients in everything from our food to our face cream, why should our feminine care be any different?

Toxins in Tampons


Toxins in Febreze

When my boys were little (many years ago) Febreze came on the scene. We had a neurotic anxious dog that had frequent accidents when he got scared of things as simple as the kids noisy toys. A product that eliminated odors? Yes please!

Only had I known then what I know now? NO THANK YOU! Toxins in Febreze


If you own a bottle of this “odor eliminating magic,” I suggest you keep reading. Some white vinegar or some diffused essential oils and you can eliminate the odors without any cancer causing ingredients.


According to EWG the Febreze products score a D or an F. ( This includes asthma and respiratory concerns, skin allergies and irritation, development and reproductive toxicity as well as concerns to the environment. When put to an air pollution test it released 87 toxic ingredients!


Getting down to the products goal: to eliminate odors. These ingredients are not in fact eliminating odors. Like other air fresheners they are covering odors up with a variety of toxic fragrances and ingredients.  The odor is still there; it is just masked by ingredients. About those ingredients…only several are actually disclosed on the label (Is that not enough to make you run?) EWG found 87 others.

How bad are those ingredients?  Let’s take a look:


-BHT – A known neurotoxin, endocrine disruptor, immunotoxicity, non-reproductive organ system toxicity, as well as a skin, eye, and lung irritant.

-Acetaldehyde – Known as a carcinogen, toxic to reproductive health, immunotoxin, non-reproductive organ system toxin, skin, eye and lung irritator

-“Fragrance” – One of the three ingredients that is actually disclosed, it’s a neurotoxin, immunotoxin and allergen. Fragrances can be comprised of any number of over 3,000 ingredients. Some have never been tested for safety.

-Propylene Glycol – May cause cancer, allergies, toxic to immune system, builds up in the system, non-reproductive organ system toxin, is classified with “enhanced skin absorption” and I can irritate the skin, eye and lungs.

-1,3-Dichloro-2-propanol – Carcinogenic (causes cancer)

-Limonene – An Allergen, immunotoxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator

-Methyl pyrrolidone – Toxic to the reproductive system and development, allergen and immunotoxin, non-reproductive organ system toxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator

-Alcohol denatured – Also one of few ingredients disclosed in the in Febreze:  linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity and skin, eyes and lung irritatant.

-Butylphenyl methylpropion al – allergen, immunotoxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator

-Ethyl acetate – linked to developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, organic system toxicity and skin, eyes and lung irritator

-Geraniol – Linked to allergies, immunotoxicity, organ system toxicity and skin, eyes and lung irritation

-Linalool – allergen, immunotoxin, and skin, eyes and lung irritator

-Benzaldehyde – neurotoxin, and skin, eyes and lung irritator

-Diethylene glycol monoethyl ether – non-reproductive organ system toxicity

-Ethylhezanol – developmental and reproductive toxin and skin, eyes and lung irritatant

-Hexyl cinnamal – allergen, immunotoxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator


What is the solution?

Throw it away. You aren’t eliminating odors you are adding toxins to your lungs that have dire consequences. Want a safer way to freshen your air? Try an essential oil diffuser  or a non-toxic spray air freshener with the bonus of aromatherapy.


Toxins in Febreze


Should You Use Petroleum Jelly?

A few weeks ago we had an odd situation at my house. My youngest son finally toilet trained. (HOORAY!) Unfortunately, as he began using the toilet his bottom became redder and redder.  My first assumption was that it Toxins in petroleum jellymust be a chemical in the underwear and in my excitement I had not prewashed them all.  After prewashing nothing changed, except my ability to return the underwear he could no longer wear.  My next assumption was that he must need organic cotton underwear.  Hundreds of dollars later at Hanna Andersson nothing had changed.  In the end it seemed he was allergic to the toilet seat.  I really wish it had been the underwear-so much easier to solve!

I spoke to a lot of people during the phase of trial and error.  Shockingly name brands of Vaseline or Aquafor, were suggested as a solution to keep his bottom healed. This was a reminder that not everyone realizes these are petroleum-based products and have no business being rubbed on our skin.

While original Petroleum Jelly Vaseline brand only has one ingredient-that ingredient is Petroleum. White Petroleum rates a 4 out of 10 on the toxicity scale.

What is wrong with this solution?

Oddly enough if you chose the “baby version” it becomes even more toxic as it also includes fragrance, which scores an 8 out of 10. (10 being the most toxic)  Petroleum jelly is a by-product of the oil industry. Aside from not being an eco friendly or sustainable product, it is not the best skin care solution.  Vaseline brand in particular is highly refined, regarded as non-carcinogenic and non-comedogenic and has been triple purified. (Please note that there are different grades of purity so if you are opting for petroleum jelly you may not want to bargain shop here. Not every brand is considered non-carcinogenic!)

Toxins in petroleum jellyWhy the draw to petroleum jellies?

It gives you the illusion of moisturizing all while sealing in the dirt, bacteria and suffocating your pores. Refined or not I definitely do not think it’s wise to use on an area likely already containing bacteria and locking it onto cracked skin.

Additional dangers?

Yes. As an adult you are less likely to put your hands in your mouth but unfortunately children are a little grosser than that. It is likely a child could rub his bottom and then put his hands in his mouth. Getting petroleum in your lungs can cause lipid pneumonia. It’s not common, but neither is being allergic to the toilet seat and yet it happens.

What is the best solution?

In the end I used our Healing Salve  and a custom made salve with coconut oil and some essential oils since it was such a large sensitive area that it was easy to keep layering on without needing to rub. Within a few days the redness was hardly evident. Sadly we also had to order a fabric (ICK!) cover for our toilet seat to keep him off the plastic-but I will solve that gross problem with a lot of laundry!


A Safer DIY Hairspray

Toxins in hairspray accumulate over time, instead create your own!

Luckily the 80’s are behind us, so we use less hairspray. But it’s important to think about what is in it and read your labels wisely. In the 70’s hairspray included an ingredient linked to liver cancer in humans (vinyl chloride). Despite awareness it was not removed from the market for 10 years.  Hairspray stillToxins in Hairspray includes many other ingredients that “may or may not” contain cancer-causing properties.

What to avoid?

Some of the ingredients you want to avoid are aerosol propellants, alcohol, polyvinylpyrrolidone plastic (a carcinogen), formaldehyde and fragrance.  Fragrance itself can contain any number of thousands of ingred
ients in that one trade protected word.

Aside ingredients you are applying to your head there are the ingredients you are inhaling when applying. Inhalation of denatured alcohol and hydro fluorocarbons can cause breathing difficulty, low blood pressure, skin, eye and lung irritation.

Environmental Concerns?

Moving on from immediate health dangers is the environmental issue. Hairspray is considered the most dangerous beauty product on the market.  Hairspray contains so many volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that can harm the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from harmful UV radiation.

What can you do?

The easiest thing to do is swap any aerosols you may have. We don’t use a lot of hair spray at my house so I have not tried these first hand but there are brands that score low on the skin deep website making them much safer than others.

If you are ambitious you can make your own! I was going to try this recipe out for my daughters last dance recital but in the end I didn’t need to spray her hair. I have talked to people who have tried this one with much success!

1 Cup – Filtered Water

4 TSP – Sugar

2 Drops – Geranium Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, and Rosemary Essential Oil.


  • Heat the water and dissolve the sugar. Once your solution has cooled, add the three essential oils and store in a spray bottle.


Can Candles Make You Sick?

Toxins From Candles

The holidays and scented candles seem to go hand and hand.  It may be the ability to reminisce and bring back childhood memories with certain holiday scents. It may be the default hostess gift for your local Toxins From Candlesgatherings, or that you just like the cozy feeling candles can bring during winter months. Whatever the reason be sure to think twice about what candles you are buying or lighting them this year.

Why does it matter? 

Candles made from Paraffin, create benzene and toluene  along with acetone when they are burned. These  are known carcinogens. In addition, most are created with toxic fragrances that emit additional toxins in to the air when burned.  Breathing in these toxins can affect the central nervous system, as well as cause headaches, drowsiness and aggravate allergies and asthma. Studies show that candles do not need to be lit to emit toxins in your home.  Wicks that contain heavy metals can contribute further to the pollution.

What are your Options?

Moving away from paraffin wax candles leaves you with beeswax or soy candles. Not all soy or beeswax candles are created equal.  Many companies carry “pure” beeswax or soy and in the United States that can mean 51%. That leaves you with 49% of toxic paraffin in your candles. Be sure to read your label to find the phrase “100% pure beeswax or soy”.


Toxins From CandlesLooking further at soy candles, you should know they may also contain many artificial fragrances and dyes. Unfortunately GMO’s come into play here as well. More than 90% of soy is genetically modified, Purchasing a soy candle, is supporting the production of GMO’s.

What about beeswax candles?

If you practice a vegan lifestyle this is a no. If you are not-beeswax candles are the safest and most natural candle choice and actually include some benefits.  Beeswax candles are a natural air cleaner. Beeswax candles won’t go rancid like soy candles can. People with allergies and asthma have reported improvement with the burning of beeswax candles. Burning beeswax supports the beekeepers. Keep in mind, we need honey bees to pollinate food crops.

What are your options?

Knowing paraffin candles were toxic, I assumed soy candles and beeswax candles were created equally. Since I am very against GMO’s I would skip the soy candles at this point. If you are also vegan that would rule out beeswax. My personal option is an essential oil diffuser. There are no risks of having flames anywhere. You get the emotional and aromatic benefits of the scents without including any of the toxins.



The Difference Between Fragrance Free and Unscented

Toxins in fragrance can still be found in products labeled unscented!

We have come to love scents. Scented candles, a new car smell, perfumes, body washes, dryer sheets…almost any item you find in your house likely contains the simple word “fragrance” on the end of the Fragrance and Unscented Toxinsingredients.  About 95% of the chemicals in commercial fragrances contain petrochemicals.

What is in Fragrance?

Fragrance is one word, however it is not “one” ingredient. The word fragrance is trade protected (due to a loophole in the Federal Fair Packaging Act of 1973: and can contain any number of over 3,100 chemicals. Many of these have never been tested for safety.

Is Fragrance Toxic?

Some are known to be toxic to the immune system, respiratory system, reproductive system and organ toxicity.  They can cause asthma, eczema, migraines, and other sensitivities. Many of the fragrance ingredients are phthalates (a known carcinogen). Phthalates can result in kidney and liver damage, early breast development, and birth defects. Parabens is another common possibility. Parabens are known to Does your products smell amazinginterfere with hormone production.

Knowing your body absorbs everything put on your skin within seconds you want to be careful about what you are applying. Toxins accumulate in our bodies over time so the key is to cut out and eliminate those we can control. Go through your daily routine in your head and consider how many items you have applied with toxic ingredients (shampoo, soap, hand soap, perfume, body lotion, detergent residue on clothing, cleaning products…the list is endless.

What can you do?

Read your labels. Next time you think about buying that can of air freshener, perfume, scented body lotion or wash-check the label.  If the bottle is scented by using essential oils that is what will appear on the label. If the bottle is scented with a combination (see previous blog post about lavender essential oil) you will find it written on the label.

What if your bottle says it’s Unscented?

This is tricky. Unscented means that fragrances have been added to cover up other scents. If you are looking for no toxic fragrances added you want your label to say “Fragrance Free”

There are simple solutions.

I make my own perfume with an essential oil combination I like. No toxins and I get the benefits of the aromatherapy my choice of oils brings. While some people still want a scent to their items some are safer than others.  Natural Fragrance Oils are produced using only pure essential oils and aromatic isolates derived solely from natural, raw botanical sources. They are free of phthalates, parabens, sulfates, glycols, petrochemicals and/or other solvents.  They can be plant based so they are vegan friendly as well.

It can be overwhelming to try and change too much at once.  Instead, think about the next time you need to purchase new soap, etc and replace it with a safer brand.

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Is Dust Toxic?

 Household Dust Poses More Problems than You May Realize

Dust itself is toxic since it contains particles from any air pollutants, pet dander, fungal spores, hair and skin, and furniture made of particleboard etc. There is no way of avoiding dust. It can cause respiratory Is Dust Toxicissues and aggravate allergies.

When I began our journey into removing toxins from our home I read every label and looked everything up on the EWG guide to find less toxic choices. Unfortunately, in this instance there didn’t seem to be one! Adding a toxic spray to “get rid” of toxic dust seemed counterproductive. Dusting wands and Swiffer dusters also scored a D or an F. Pledge Dust  & Allergen dry cloths? They score a D. Most contain ingredients “suspected of causing cancer” as well as toxic fragrances in mineral oils.

What’s the solution? Vacuuming frequently, leaving your shoes at the door, and investing in a HEPA filter will help cut down on the amount of dust created.

Getting rid of the dust that will inevitably exist is actually easier and cheaper than you may think! I have been using this recipe for quite a long time and I believe it works better than any spray I have used in the past.

1 Cup  olive oil

¼ cup white vinegar

5 drops of lemon essential oil

Or arborvitae essential oil (I actually use both)

Combine in a stainless steel or glass spray bottle (lemon essential oil is not compatible with plastic bottles)

When ready to use spray ON CLOTH (microfiber or a strong paper towel) and wipe.

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Toxins in Carpet Fresheners

What Toxins are in your Carpet Fresheners?

If you have carpets chances are that is one of the main places you are sitting, laying and playing with your children. Children themselves spend most of the time sitting and playing on the floor.

You want your carpets to stay clean and healthy, which is often a feat in itself if you have pets or children. There are many carpet deodorizing powders on the market to “help” with this solution. But are they Toxins in Carpet Cleanershelping or hurting?

Carpet deodorizing powders are meant to be completely vacuumed up after application. Unfortunately, the powder or its residue can easily be left behind.  It may have sunk too deep into the carpet fibers, meaning that even high-powered vacuums won’t be able to pull it out.  Carpet deodorizers contain many unsafe ingredients linked to lung damage, kidney damage, nervous system damage, hormone disruption and blood disorders along with probably carcinogens. Chances are they also contain a lot of “fragrance.”  Fragrance is the protected trade secret of as many as 3,600 ingredients, many of which are toxic or have never been tested for safety. Once the residue has been left behind it will continue to be inhaled.

Sometimes you still need a solution for your carpet and the smell it has acquired. Like many safe cleaning ingredients, baking soda is your answer.

  • Grab a glass jar;
  • Fill it with baking soda and some drops of a deodorizing essential oil.
  • Sprinkle on your carpet (this works best in a shaker/salt jar) let set.
  • Vacuum.
  • Your carpet will be safe and smell amazing, and no one will be inhaling toxins.