Food

Why It's Important to Turn the Range Hood On Every Time

Or open the window. Even when you're boiling water. We're serious!


If you heard that chemicals give off dangerous fumes, you probably wouldn't be surprised. But it might be surprising to learn that cooking, or even turning on a stove or stovetop can give off fumes and particles that can be harmful too (5). Think about it, have you ever noticed all the smoke floating away from your cooking pan when you're stir-frying or just plain frying? Or maybe you've smelled something funny when you turn on the burner? Well, in that cloud of smoke are a whole heap of yucky chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM) (5).



Give me the rundown on VOCs

Volatile organic compounds or VOCs refer to a group of chemicals that are airborne and that you can breathe in (2). Particulate matter (PM), well, is exactly what it sounds like! They are ultrafine particles that you can't see with the naked eye. But because these particles are so small, they are easy to inhale into your lungs and cause inflammation (5). As you can probably guess, the risk of health effects from inhaling any chemical depends on how much is in the air, how long and how often a person breathes it in (2). Breathing in low levels of VOCs and PM for long periods of time may increase some people's risk of health problems (2). Several studies suggest that exposure to VOCs and PM can worsen symptoms for people with asthma or who are particularly sensitive to chemicals (2).

Short-term exposure to VOCs and PM (we're talking hours to days), can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, as well as headaches, nausea, or worsening of asthma symptoms (2). Long-term repeated exposure, like for years or over a lifetime, can cause cancer, liver and kidney damage and damage to the nervous system (2). If you're pregnant, or thinking of having a child, here's some news you may want to pay attention to. VOC and PM exposure is not directly harmful to pregnant women, but it is harmful to the baby. Breathing in high concentrations of VOCs can lower birth weight and negatively affect a child's physical development (3). There is also preliminary research that shows that pregnant women who breathe in high concentrations of VOCs during pregnancy can also decrease the immunity of their children (4). Talk about bad news bears!

What can I do to reduce my exposure?

There are a couple things that you can do to reduce the amount of VOCs and PMs you're exposed to - change how you cook and what oil you use, and improve your home's ventilation and filtration capacity and capability. What does this mean? Here's a run down for you:

  • The most concerning type of cooking that produces the most VOCs are things that are cooked at a high temperature or in a lot of oil (1). For example, this includes frying or pan frying things, especially meat (1). A good gauge is the more smoke something gives off during the cooking process, the more VOCs and PM there likely are in the air that you're going to be breathing in (1).
  • If you're using oil right now with a low smoke point (a quick Google search will let you know the smoking point of your oil), switch to one with a higher smoking point. Good oils to use are avocado, peanut, or canola oil and ghee (clarified butter).
  • If you've got one, turn on your range hood before you even turn on your stove (2). Even when you are just boiling water, just the ignition of a gas stove can raise VOCs above a healthy level. The hood will suck away the VOCs and PM from the air above your stove and hopefully leave nothing but yummy food for you and your family.
  • If you don't have a range hood, purchase a window exhaust fan (it can be either a dual one or just one that pushes air out) or invest in an air filter. It not only helps with the VOCs but will also help with cleaning your air of other things you don't want to be breathing in.
  • If you're in a bind and need a penny pinching solution, we've got one for you too! Open your window, place a fan right by it, and you're good to go!

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4245642/
  2. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/voc/
  3. https://journals.lww.com/epidem/fulltext/2011/01001/The_Effect_of_VOCs_Exposure_During_Pregnancy_on.480.aspx
  4. https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2393-11-87
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4050506/

Tired of changing and throwing away tampons or pads every month? Want a zero-waste alternative for your period? Heard of menstrual cups and period underwear, but not sure which one to pick? Well, look no further! We rounded up the 10 best-reviewed non-toxic menstrual cups and organic period underwear options for you to try out. All of the menstrual cups are made of a flexible medical-grade silicone that collect fluid instead of absorbing it. The period underwear options we found are made with organic cotton, and can be washed.

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Family

Environmental Factors May Have a Bigger Impact on Fertility than You Think

Breaking Down the Science and Ways to Limit Harmful Exposures

Trying to get pregnant should be an exciting time of planning for the next stage of your life, not one full of doctors visits, constant testing, and worrying about body temperatures. But, if you and your partner are struggling with infertility, you are not alone. According to the CDC about 12% of women have impaired fecundity, which is another way of saying that they are having difficulty getting or staying pregnant (1) [there are no statistics on infertility in men, but there is science showing that overall sperm count is decreasing(14)]. And, the science is clear, environmental factors definitely impact reproductive health - for both men and women. Some of the biggest impacts come from air pollution, pesticides, and endocrine disrupting chemicals (2), which are in all sorts of products and affect the way hormones interact with your body.

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Roundups

9 Stainless Steel & Glass Tumblers

For iced coffee, iced tea, and smoothies on the go

Getting iced coffee in a plastic cup with a plastic straw is a lot harder to do after watching that video of a plastic straw being removed from a turtle's nose. Plus there is also that pesky condensation that creates a pool of water at the bottle of your cupholder or on your desk. So we found the 9 best reviewed stainless steel and glass tumblers, so that you can have your iced beverages in style this summer. Many of the brands have different sizes ranging from 20oz to 30oz and variety of colors. We prefer stainless steel or glass because many of the acrylic or plastic tumblers may have chemicals similar to BPA. We also link to some stainless steel straws because not all of these tumblers come with straws. And if you're like us, drinking iced coffee through a straw is just synonymous with summer.

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Life

Easy Ways To Keep Your Car Smelling Fresh Without the Synthetic Scents

Cause Traditional Car Air Fresheners Are No Good For Your Health

Those little tree-shaped air fresheners dangling from a rear-view mirror or air vent clip-ons may feel festive, but most car air fresheners can be bad for your health. They seem so innocent, so how is that possible you might ask?

One of the biggest issues with these products is the mystery behind what goes into them. Believe it or not, It's actually hard to be 100% certain about what chemicals are in air fresheners. There's a ton of secrecy into what actually goes into a fragrance product because companies can claim their ingredients are trade secrets. We definitely can't say a product is safe if we don't even know what is used to make it.

However, we do know that most air fresheners are made up of a ton of synthetic fragrances. There are literally thousands of chemicals manufacturers can choose from when making a product with synthetic fragrance. And a lot of these chemicals are known to have negative impacts on our health. (1)

On top of that, fragrance in air fresheners usually contain both phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (2). Although these chemicals can make scents powerful, they can also be allergens that cause coughing, headaches, and runny noses (2). Phthalates are also hormone disruptors and VOCs can be carcinogens. We definitely don't want to be constantly breathing in those chemicals, no matter how good they might smell!

The amount of space inside your car is also a reason we don't like traditional car air fresheners. A smaller space = more concentrated exposure, and since you probably have your windows closed 90% of the time, a car is one of the worst places to keep a strongly-scented product.

Luckily, there are easy, nontoxic ways to make your car smell fresh! You can keep a container filled with baking soda or a baking soda freezer pack hidden somewhere. Baking soda is a completely natural way to eliminate odors and a box is only a couple of dollars! Using scents from natural sources are also a great way to add a little freshness to your car. You can put a few drops of an essential oil onto a clothespin or another wooden item and leave it somewhere in your car (3). When the smell goes away, just replenish with a few more drops of oil! If you prefer something a little more contained, we also love putting satchels of lavender or rose petals around our car.

But perhaps the easiest way to get rid of a bad smell is to simply roll your windows down! Maybe rolling down the windows will help make your commute a little more relaxing too.

References:

  1. https://www.nrdc.org/media/2007/070919
  2. https://kellybroganmd.com/is-your-uber-air-freshener-making-you-sick/
  3. https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/how-to-make-3-naturally-scented-air-fresheners-for-cars/
Roundups

12 Best Non-Toxic Diaper Creams

Our top recommendations for your baby's bottom that parents love

Updated for 2019!

We get it- you're busy but you also want the best for your baby. But who has the time to sit down and do hours of research on the best diaper creams for your baby's bottom? That's why we're here! We have nothing butt (get it?) amazing products for our non-toxic diaper cream roundup. These 12 products are free from irritants like fragrances and use soothing ingredients to keep diaper rash at bay. Some options have non-nano zinc oxide to protect the skin, and some work more as an ointment to prevent redness. Looking for an organic diaper balm? We've got those too. As always, we thoroughly researched consumer reviews to ensure you're getting a stellar product that actually works and that parents love.

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Home

10 Places to Buy PVC-free Wall Decals

Why it's worth considering before your next redecorating project

Wall decals are the perfect decorating solution for nurseries, kids rooms, renters, dorm dwellers, or basically anyone who is a commitment-phobe. There are endless designs that can add just the pop you need, and they are easy to remove for when you want to change it up. But most wall decals are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), otherwise known as vinyl. These vinyl stickers have added phthalates which make the plastic stickers super thin and flexible, yet durable enough so they don't rip easily. Phthalates have endocrine disrupting properties that can wreak havoc on your hormones and have been linked to a variety of health issues like cancers, infertility, preterm birth, impaired brain development, and asthma and allergies. Basically, not good stuff. Plus, the manufacturing process of PVC is really bad for the environment and communities where it's manufactured (1) and there's no way to recycle it. Eek. Not good all around.

So next time you're shopping for a wall decal, check the 'details' section on the product page. A decal that says vinyl or doesn't specify anything is probably one you want to avoid. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites that make PVC-free options that still get high marks from designers. We pulled together our top 10 favorites sites down below.

  1. Chocovenyl
  2. Eco Wall Decals
  3. Koko Kids
  4. Love Mae
  5. Oopsy Daisy
  6. Petit Collage
  7. Pop and Lolli
  8. Sunny Decals
  9. Tiny Me
  10. Wall Dressed Up


References:

  1. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/vinyl-chloride.pdf
Family

5 Tips for Healthy Kid-Friendly Meals (cause the struggle is real!)

Dreading dinner time every night? We're here to help.

Let's face it, getting a child to eat, no less a picky eater, might actually be the most daunting task in the world. Whether you've been on the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches only train for the past week or past month and just want your child to add something green or leafy to their palate, we've got you covered. We've put together some overall suggestions to incorporate into meal-prep that are not only more kid-friendly, but will also help you avoid processed foods that might be less healthy or have added toxic chemicals.

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