Healthier Home

Non-Toxic Laundry: Dryer Balls


Although they make your clothes feel soft and smell “fresh”, fabric softeners and dryer sheets are some of the most toxic products. They add toxic chemicals to your laundry and, consequently, your body. Our skin is our largest organ and has a transdermal effect, so what we put on our body is just as important as what we put in it, which chemicals like these that stay on your clothes and have contact with your skin the majority of the day will have some effect on your health. Since fabric softeners are designed to stay on your clothes for extended periods of time, such chemicals can seep out gradually and be inhaled or absorbed directly through the skin. 

According to Scientific American, some of the most harmful ingredients in dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners include: 
-benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer)
-benzyl alcohol (an upper respiratory tract irritant)
-ethanol (linked to central nervous system disorders)
-chloroform (a neurotoxin and carcinogen)
-limonene (carcinogen)
-surfactant nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) (reproductive problems)

The benefits of using dryer balls:
-natural/non-toxic
-reusable, can last up to 1,000 loads (once they start to unravel its time to replace)
-helps separate the clothes while in the dryer allows additional air flow through to dry clothes faster
-helps reduce wrinkles and static of clothing
-save you money on fabric softener and dryer sheets
-eco-friendly/biodegradeable 

How to use:
-use 2-3 dryer balls depending on size of load (they will work more efficiently with small to medium loads allowing the balls to bounce around and do their job) You will need more for larger loads

Most dryer balls are made of wool or bamboo fibers (these are the ones that you want to look for to purchase)

If you are looking for an added scent to your laundry, after the load is completely dried, take out the dyer balls and apply a desired amount of essential oil to each ball. Toss the dryer balls back into the dryer and run the load on “Air Fluff” for 10 minutes (no heat), so that the delicate essential oil is not damaged. 

I have created a list of recommendations of non-toxic laundry products with pictures of a few of my favorites here. Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent is my most used detergent as it is the most economic of the non-toxic brands and does a great job!

Healthier Home, Nutrition

Reusable Non-Toxic Straws

🥤Reusable Non-Toxic Straws🥤

Some benefits:

🥤They are reusable! Not only is that good for the environment, saving our sea life from the pollution of plastic straws that ends up in the ocean but they are also good on your pocket! It will save you money in the long run if you are used to buying disposable straws.

🥤Plastic reusable straws start to build a film inside of them that are hard to clean and can build up bacteria or mold, can’t go in the dishwasher or they melt.

🥤Plastic leaches chemicals, even more so when exposed to extreme temperatures like freezing or heat, acidic beverages or UV light which of course posses a risk to our health since it can disrupt our hormones but even more so cause cancer. Most single-use plastic straws are made from polypropylene, a type of plastic commonly made from petroleum. 

Options for non-toxic reusable straws: glass, stainless steel, bamboo and silicone (which are perfect for small children or people with disabilities that need a bendable straw). 

🌾If you are needing single use non-toxic straws, for lets say a party or an event where you will need a great amount of straws, I recommend using these natural Hay Straws that are made from wheat stems. They are 100% compostable, so you can throw them in the compost and they will break down completely.

Personally, I like to use glass straws because I like to be able to see thru them and make sure that they have been fully cleaned out on the inside. Good quality straws are made sturdy enough where you do not have to worry about your children using them or breaking them. My favorite glass straws are from GlassDharma. I love that their glass is thick and very durable. I also love that their cleaning brush handle is made from stainless steel. Perfect combo with their soft hemp sleeve to hold the straw and be able to take it on the go! Glassdharma creates a variety of glass straws, including a nice collection of etched straws with inspirational words on them. They even make custom sized straws if you have a container you would like a specific length of a straw for. Best part is they have a lifetime guarantee!

⚠️Tip: make sure with any cleaning brush that you use, that the handle is all stainless steel (no aluminum). 

This reusable monkey print travel pouch is from Marley’s Monsters. The pouches are perfect to take your straws on the go! I also store my straws in the pouch inside my kitchen drawer to keep them clean in between uses. This pouch even has removable and washable interior wet bag to keep your dirty straws in. They have a wide variety of adorable prints to choose from, as well as different sizes to match the length of your straws. Their site has a variety of great non-toxic, reusable items aside from straws ranging from kitchen towels, napkins, facial washcloths, nursing pads, bibs, washable duster, dryer balls, shopping bags and food containers.

Here is a full list of my recommendations: https://amzn.to/2H7jzTI

Healthier Home

Radon Exposure and Risk for Lung Cancer

Radon is an invisible, odorless and tasteless naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep through cracks in the foundation of your home and its walls which can then diffuse into the air. Radon is present is most of the air around us, so we are actually exposed to it at fairly low levels on a regular basis.

It is when radon is trapped in your home or a confined space where you spend a relatively good amount of time, where it can eventually build up to a toxic level which can cause lung cancer. Although cigarette smoking is still the leading cause of lung cancer, it is found that radon comes in second. In the Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study the risk estimates obtained indicated that cumulative radon exposure presents an important environmental health hazard.

“Radon decays quickly, giving off tiny radioactive particles. When inhaled, these radioactive particles can damage the cells that line the lung. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer, the only cancer proven to be associated with inhaling radon. There has been a suggestion of increased risk of leukemia associated with radon exposure in adults and children; however, the evidence is not conclusive.”-National Cancer Institute

Significant radon exposure can cause symptoms such as a persistent cough, coughing up blood, hoarseness, shortness of breath, frequent infections with pneumonia or chronic bronchitis. If you have any of these symptoms without any known potential causes, it is highly recommended that you test your home.

Steps to take to combat radon exposure:

  • Start by testing your home. You can do it yourself with a kit or hire a professional. Basement and first floors typically have the highest radon levels because of their closeness to the ground, so you will want to make sure you test the lowest floor in which you are occupying. You can find a radon test kit or professional here.
  • If you find a radon problem in your home, you will want to take steps to fix it depending on the result of radon level.
  • If you smoke, take active measures to stop smoking. Smoking a health risk on its own but combined with high levels of radon exposure it posses a much greater hazard and increased risk for lung cancer.
  • If you have any questions you can call this national hotline at: 1-800-55RADON (557-2366).

Radon levels can vary depending on different factors like weather, humidity, wind, precipitation. Therefore a long term test might yield more accurate results versus a short term test which may be affected by one of those conditions. A short-term test will yield faster results, but a long-term test will give you a better understanding of your home’s year-round average radon level and exposure risk.

Below I share with you the results from my own personal home. I did a short test which is recommended to test for 48 hours or at least no more than 96 hours. I did not have a chance to stop the test right at the 48 hour mark and ended up running the test for a little past 60 hours, which was still okay. However, because my result came back at 2.4pCi/L I am going to conduct another test, this time utilizing a long-term test kit, to compare the results. I want to ensure that the level is below 2.0pCi/L, so if the second result comes back higher I will look at measures to reduce it.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a Citizen’s Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Radon. They also have more information about residential radon exposure and what people can do about it in the Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction.

Healthier Home

Splish Splash, Safe and Healthy Bubble Bath

One of the things my son has enjoyed most while undergoing his cancer treatment and even know are baths. It helps him relax and makes for the perfect aid in promoting a restful sleep. Even now that he is done with his treatment, at the age of 11, he still likes to take baths. What he enjoys most though are bubble baths! I mean who doesn’t, right? Regardless of what age you are, bubble baths are totally enjoyable and relaxing!

My favorite bubble bath to use for my son Anthony, is from California Baby®. Shortly after my son was diagnosed with cancer I started researching safe, non-toxic products to use. That is when I came across California Baby® and their product line is now my absolute favorite! So much so that I am now a California Baby® Mombassador. With that said please rest assured that I will never recommend or promote any products that I have never tried or do not personally like. I have tried so many products in search of what would be best for my son and can with all honestly say their product line is my favorite.

Our skin is our largest organ and has a transdermal effect, so what we expose our skin to is just as important as what we put in it. You might not stop to think that what you or your child are using on your skin, especially soaking in, can have a negative impact on your health. California Baby® was created by a mother in search of all natural safe products to use for her first born. Their line of bubble baths are made with plant based ingredients and use essential oils for their scents. Absolutely no harsh toxic chemicals or synthetic fragrances. They also have an ingredient safety score rating of 1 from the Environmental Working Group. You can check out a list of their ingredient standards here.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that a warning label be put on all ‘foaming detergent bath products’ used for children that states “Caution –Use only as directed. Excessive use or prolonged exposure may cause irritation to skin and urinary tract. Discontinue use if rash, redness, or itching occurs. Consult your physician if irritation persists. Keep out of reach of children.” This is because there are bubble baths that are made with harsh and toxic chemicals. Check out what toxic chemicals to avoid in kids bubble bath products here.

So what can possibly make a bubble bath more fun, for kids at least ? A bubble wand of course! Not only will kids have a great time taking their bath while having fun blowing bubbles but it is also very therapeutic and actually has health benefits for any age!

Because blowing bubbles requires deep breathing and also incorporates pursed lipped breathing (exhaling through puckered lips) it increases pressure on the airways to keep them open longer and is a great method to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation and relieve stress.

With little ones, blowing bubbles are also a great way of developing visual tracking skills as babies and infants move their head and follow the bubbles with their eyes. Once they are at the age to start learning to blow bubbles it will help them strengthen the muscles of the jaw and around the mouth as well as work on fine motor skills while they hold the wand. Who thought a bubble bath could be so beneficial!

They have a wide variety of bubble baths to choose from, varying in different essential oil scents, including one that is unscented for extra sensitive skin. I would say that their CALMING™ bubble bath is great before bedtime. Among these bubble baths, is also their I Love You™ bubble bath which portion of proceeds from this line of their products is donated to the CA Breast Cancer Research Program.

You can check out their full line of products at www.californiababy.com. You can also find some of their products at Target, natural food stores and select local stores like Whole Foods or online at Amazon.

If you would like to try out California Baby products, click here to take a short quiz and claim a free prize! Hope you love their products just as much as we do!

Healthier Home

Be Smart about Smart Meters

Smart meters are a type of meter that is used to measure your electric, gas or water usage.

Utility companies have been able to save money by reducing the amount of staff employees needed to drive around checking meters manually by instead installing smart meters that allow them to read your usage utilizing electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Not only did this program put thousands of employees out of work but if you live in the state of California, it was a billion dollar project back authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in 2012 when it was initiated to have all the meters changed out to smart meters. A smart move to now have this type of radio frequency radiation put our health at risk within our own homes.  

We are living in a world surrounded by electromagnetic fields. Unfortunately it is affecting our health, including our immune system but it is also linked to an environmental factor that is putting us at an increased risk for cancer. There are some levels of exposure that we have no control over, like how many antenna towers we are living near which you can check out that information here, unless you are planning to move this would be vital information to research prior to choosing a real estate location. However, if you are a home owner, you have basic legal right to safety and health within your home to make modifiable changes. One of these changes is requesting that the smart meters be changed out for analog meters.

While my son was in treatment, I called my utility companies and told them I wanted to have my smart meters changed to analog. To my surprise it was not as much of a hassle as I thought it would be. The phone call took about 10 minutes of my time. One company did ask why I wanted to have it changed, for which I told them my son’s diagnosis and the health concern it poses, which in hindsight I am not even sure that they are entitled to know why you would want to have it changed. All utilities companies did have me pay an initial ‘opt-out fee’ and then said that I would be charged a monthly fee of $10. Yes this small fee can definitely add up over time but it is a small price to pay in order to mitigate your exposure and reduce any potential health risks. From the time I placed the phone call to initiate the request it took only about a week to have a technician at my house to change the meters.

A blog post from Lloyd Burrell includes an informative video from Dr. Karl Manet who is both a medical doctor and an engineer talks about the impact that smart meters, as well as other EMF emitting devices, have on our health. He also includes tips on how to shield yourself from radiation emitted from a smart meter if for whatever reason you are not able to have it removed (i.e. you live in an apartment building) which he states to “shield the wall behind the smart meter to prevent the smart meter radiation penetrating your home. There are several ways of doing this, shielding paint is one way. The disadvantage is that it requires quite a lot of decorating type work and it only shields the room the room where you have applied the shielding material.”

While there are many sources of EMF that we are exposed to on a daily basis that we have no control over, there are still a great amount of factors which we can change. If you are looking for a great book on EMFs and tips on how you can reduce your exposure, Defender Shield’s book: Radiation Nation: Fallout of Modern Technology – Your Complete Guide to EMF Protection & Safety: The Proven Health Risks of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF) & What to Do Protect Yourself & Family is a great resource.

Healthier Home

Shining Some Light on Our Health

Naturally we gravitate towards purchasing light bulbs that are energy efficient, long lasting or perhaps the best for our budget. It is not just a matter of choosing a light source but knowing exactly what we are being exposed to when doing so.

Certain artificial lights expose us to harmful UV radiation, radio frequency radiation. This can have a negative effect on our overall health by damaging negative skin cells, eye problems with damaging the retina, causing headaches, disrupting hormone function and most importantly putting us at risk for cancer.

Amongst the choices out there of light bulbs (incandescent, halogen, LED and CFL), it has been found that incandescent light bulbs are the best option for our health, halogen being the second option. Here is a breakdown of some pros and cons of each:

Incandescent

  • Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • Good color rendering: CRI of 100 which is the best possible
  • Cons
    • Not energy efficient (90% of energy goes to heat, 10% makes visible light)
    • Average lamp life: 750 – 1000 hrs (standard household bulb)

Halogen

  • Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • More efficient than incandescents, can produce more light using the same amount of power
  • Cons
    • The bulb is filled with a halogen gas that keeps the tungsten filament from burning down which poses a higher risk for a fire

LED (light-emitting diodes)

CFL (compact fluorescent light)

  • Pros
    • Energy efficient
    • May be dimmable but need to make sure that the dimmer switch is rated for use with CFLs
  • Cons
    • Not as great of a color light quality as incandescent
    • If they have to be installed upside down (i.e. a porch lamp) it shortens the life of the bulb
    • Contain mercury! When a bulb breaks in your home, some of this mercury may be released as mercury vapor. Needs special care when cleaning up a broken CFL lightbulb. Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment. Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one and leave off for several hours. Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken.  Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.

The sad truth is that regardless of how much research is out there to support how incandescent or halogen light bulbs are the best for our health, electricity companies are still out there promoting rebates and encouraging their consumers to switch them out for their energy efficient counterparts in order to save money. As we know our health should be our largest investment. If we proactively make changes now to ensure our well-being, we are likely to save thousands of dollars in the future on medical office visits, prescriptions, dealing with chronic conditions or yet worse cancer. Sure you may need to replace these light bulbs more frequently than others but that is a small price to pay in comparison.

When shopping for light bulbs look out for this label with the lighting facts. If a lightbulb contains mercury the label will clearly indicate it.

Tip: If you are looking for a way to still save on electricity, using outlet timers are the perfect way to not only save energy but also reduce the amount of EMFs (electromagnetic fields) you are exposed to within you home during sleep hours. This can also help you achieve a better level of deep sleep as melatonin levels are less disrupted.