COVID-19

Worried about COVID-19 in the air?

Here's what you need to know about it

COVID-19. Just hearing the word may bring shivers down your spine. It's turned the world upside down, and definitely changed the way we live our lives. Luckily, we've learned from scientists that there are ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Good hand hygiene (that means washing for TWO rounds of happy birthday, people!), staying 6 feet away from others, and wearing a mask. As we slowly learn how to adapt to COVID-19, there might be one question you're asking yourself. How does COVID-19 spread, and can it be transmitted through the air we breathe?As we winter is approaching and we spend more and more time indoors, this is definitely on the top of our minds. Sit tight as we break it down for you below.

How does it spread?

Most scientist and public health organizations agree that there are two main ways that COVID-19 can spread:

  • COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person through inhalation of large respiratory droplets or direct contact(1).
  • And through touching infected surfaces and touching your face, rubbing your eyes, picking something up and eating it (4).

A third method of spread, more recently recognized, is inhaling small airborne droplets containing the COVID-19 virus (4). Airborne droplets are different from the large respiratory droplets that cause most spread of COVID-19. Large respiratory droplets usually cannot travel more than 6 feet (the recommended distance for social distancing) (1). Airborne droplets are small enough to stay suspended in the air and travel depending on air flow, up to several hours (5). While studies for airborne transmission of COVID-19 are still ongoing, more than 80 percent of published scientific journals indicate that COVID-19 can spread through the air and infect others (4). The WHO and the CDC have both updated their guidance to say that the COVID-19 virus can be spread through airborne particles. Multiple studies found that viruses are released during exhalation, talking, and coughing in microdroplets that are small enough to stay in the air and can travel a much further than the size of a typical room (5) For context on how small we're talking, about 400 COVID-19 virus particles can fit on the width of one of your hairs (8)! Particles that small can easily end up in our bodies and make us sick without proper protection.

How can you protect yourself from airborne COVID-19?

  1. Increase air flow: Making sure your indoor spaces get proper ventilation will help improve indoor air quality (2). The easiest way to do this is to open windows or screened doors as frequently as possible to keep air moving in the home (2). You can place a fan in front of the window or open windows on different sides of the house to help increase air flow. If you have a window air conditioner with an outdoor air intake or vent, turn that on as well (2). For bathrooms, turn the fan on when the bathroom is in use and keep it running, if possible (2).
  2. Use air filtration: air purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a home or confined space (2). Consider purchasing air purifiers that have a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration system. Make sure air cleaners don't generate ozone (3). If you don't have access to an air filter, you can increase the filtration capacity of the filter capacity on your furnace to help (7). Most can support a MERV 13 filter.
  3. Be mindful of room capacity: Avoid overcrowding (5). If you are hosting a gathering, keep the number of guests invited small, and host the gathering outdoors, if possible (6). If a gathering needs to be indoors, keep doors and windows open for maximum airflow (6). Even when outdoors, be mindful of air flow. Try and avoid areas that have limited airflow (like standing in a corner between two buildings), if possible. And most importantly, don't forget to wear a mask if you're with people you don't live with!

While precautions to prevent airborne spread of COVID-19 are helpful, they are not the whole picture. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that when used along with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention such as staying 6 feet away from others and mask wearing, increasing ventilation and air filtration is a good addition to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All this to say, while COVID-19 is scary, there are things that we can do to help protect ourselves and our loved ones.


References

  1. https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/indoor-air-and-coronavirus-covid-19
  2. https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/frequent-questions-about-indoor-air-and-coronavirus-covid-19
  3. https://www.usgbc.org/credits/safety-first-138-v4.1
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412020317876
  5. http://dominique.regards.free.fr/blog/images/documents_pdf/200602_l-Morawska_it-is-time-to-address-airborne-transmission-of-covid-19-clinical-infectious-diseases.pdf
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/personal-social-activities.html
  7. https://www.ashrae.org/technical-resources/resources
  8. https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/modes-of-transmission-of-virus-causing-covid-19-implications-for-ipc-precaution-recommendations
  9. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-covid-19-and-medical-devices/uv-lights-and-lamps-ultraviolet-c-radiation-disinfection-and-coronavirus
Roundups

Non-Toxic Bathroom Cleaners

products you can buy to make your bathroom squeaky clean without dangerous fumes

Nobody likes doing it, but it's got to be done! Cleaning the bathroom doesn't have to be gross or involve lots of chemicals with dangerous fumes that leave your eyes teary and your head hurting. You can use an all purpose cleaner on most surfaces in the bathroom, but sometimes you need a little extra oomph to get rid of hard water stains and mold or mildew. Every now and then we also find ourselves needing to clear the drains too! We checked out all the lists and figured out which bathroom cleaning products are the safest and effective.

In addition to these products, we also love using a simple non-toxic all purpose cleaner and have lots of DIY cleaner recipes for getting your bathroom squeaky clean.

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Healthy eating should be about more than just healthy ingredients! While there are many different specific diets, most definitions of healthy eating involve choosing fresh, nutrient-dense whole foods that provide maximal nutritional benefits. Refined grains, sugar, vegetable oils, and other unhealthy ingredients are left off the plate. But if healthy ingredients become contaminated with harmful chemicals, are they really healthy? It is time for healthy eating to incorporate more than just ingredients. Healthy eating should also include how the food is packaged and what materials the food comes into contact with while it is being processed, cooked, and stored.
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Roundups

The Best Non-Toxic Dish Soaps

Healthy, safe, and effective grease-cutting dish soap power

Updated for 2021!

Get your dishes clean without worrying about the chemicals in your dish soap. We rounded up the top 6 dish soaps without toxic chemicals or preservatives that are well-reviewed and easily available. You're welcome! We've had some questions about whether parents need a separate soap specifically for bottles and dishes. With these 6 picks, you can be rest assured that they will work well on your dinner plates but are also safe enough for baby bottles and toddler dishes. Also, for all the dishes you choose not to hand wash, take a peek at our dishwasher detergent roundup.

a) Attitude Dishwashing Liquid

b) Aunt Fannie's Microcosmic Probiotic Power Dish Soap

c) Better Life Dish Soap

d) ECOS Dishmate Dish Liquid

e) Common Good dish soap

f) Cleancult liquid dish soap

g) Trader Joe's Dish Soap Lavender Tea Tree


We rely on EWG's consumer databases, the Think Dirty App, and GoodGuide in addition to consumer reviews and widespread availability of products to generate these recommendations. Learn more on our methodology page.

*Because Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program so that when you click through our Amazon links, a percentage of the proceeds from your purchases will go to Because Health. We encourage you to shop locally, but if you do buy online buying through our links will help us continue the critical environmental health education work we do. Our participation does not influence our product recommendations. To read more about how we recommend products, go to our methodology page.

Roundups

Eco-Friendly and Reusable Gift Wrapping Ideas

Spread holiday cheer without creating waste!

Since this is a safe space we can admit that one of the best parts about the holidays is the presents, right? But the amount of wrapping paper we go through every year is just insane... and most of it isn't even recyclable! Unless "recyclable" is specifically mentioned on the label, you'll have to throw used wrapping paper into the trash. And sometimes, we could do without that mountain of used wrapping paper after presents have been opened, even if it is the recyclable kind.
That's why we wanted to find the best wrapping options that could actually be recycled or reused year to year! Check out these great alternatives to tranditonal wrapping paper!


a) 2 Pieces Christmas Canvas Tote Bags Buffalo Plaid Check Shopping Bags

b) joywrap

c) Hallmark Recyclable Kraft Wrapping Paper

d) Eco-Friendly Reversible Wrapping Paper

e) Hallmark Reusable Fabric Gift Wrap

f) Hallmark Black and Red Drawstring Gift Bag Set


g) Furoshiki Reusable Gift Wrapping Cloth


h) Organic Cotton Reusable Gift Wrap (Set of 3)

i) Brown Kraft Paper Jumbo Roll

Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, and fun gifts for your home chef? We created a gift guide this year for those people on your list who love cooking and hosting. Whether it's elaborate dinner parties or weeknight meals, these gifts are sure to bring some joys in the new year. We looked for gifts that avoided waste (like a stovetop popcorn maker), or that avoided harmful chemicals (like a cast iron skillet), or that could bring a little fun into the kitchen (like these fabulous cloth napkins).

This year, we have highlighted many products by many Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) owned/founded brands. Buying from these brands is a great way to support economic opportunities in BIPOC communities and celebrates diversity in the sustainability space. Additionally, since climate change is an urgent issue with so many health impacts, we are also highlighting brands that are Climate Neutral certified. That means that the brand has committed to measure, offset, and reduce the carbon they emit. We believe that consumers and companies must work together to embrace and make true commitments to diversity and sustainability. Look no further for the ultimate gift guide!

$: Under $50

Handheld milk frother

This stainless steel milk frother is the perfect way to warm up your milk (or milk alternative) without having to sacrifice counter space! Whether you're drinking coffee or matcha, this it the perfect tool to take things up a notch.

Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes (BIPOC brand)

Want to eat less meat, but don't know how to make vegetable dishes stand out? Step up your cooking game with delicious recipes from this unique cookbook from Bryant Terry. Bryant is renowned for his activism and efforts to create a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system, so this cookbook is right up our alley.

Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution (BIPOC brand)

Looking to up your whole grain intake? Expand your baking skills with Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution. You'll be amazed how a simple cookie can change texture and flavor based on the flours you use. Learn about the world of ancient grains like buckwheat, sorghum, rye, barley, and heirloom wheat and bake some delicious treats.

GreenLife Bakeware Healthy Ceramic Nonstick, Muffin Pan

This ceramic baking pan by GreenLife is non-stick without harmful chemicals and comes in a bunch of cute colors. Weekend muffins are calling you!

Great Northern Popcorn Original Stainless Steel Stove Top Popcorn Popper

Microwave popcorn is expensive and the bags are coated in Teflon like chemicals, but it's so convenient. Enter this amazing popcorn maker. You'll never look at microwaved popcorn the same way after you use this Great Northern stovetop popcorn popper! It's stainless steel body perfectly cooks kernels to tasty perfection.

Heath Ceramics large coffee mug

Elevate your morning coffee with this beautifully crafted mug from Heath Ceramics. It comes in many lead-free glazes and is as sturdy as it is beautiful.

$ $: Between $50-100

Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker

Sunday brunch just got so much better with this waffle maker by Hamilton Beach. Most waffle makers use a Teflon-like coating in their waffle makers, but this waffle maker uses a ceramic non-stick. It's really easy to use and the ceramic grids pop out for easy cleaning.

Diaspora Co. Single-Origin Spices (BIPOC brand)

Spices can make or break a dish, which is why we love upgrading our spice drawer with this set of single origin spices from Diaspora. We love that they pay a living wage to partner farmers and their partner model allows them to provide quality control that results in fresher, more delicious spices. That also means that they can also better control potential contamination and test for lead contamination. They are also working on organic certification for their partner farms.

Emile Henry Deep Food Storage Bowl

Who says food storage has to be boring? Beauty meets function with this deep food storage bowl by Emile Henry. The cork top serves as a fruit bowl, while the lower level with vents and darkness acts as a mini pantry to store root vegetables and onions.

Siafu Home Congolese Napkins

The scalloped edge and fun pattern of these napkins make them a great hostess gift! These are screen printed by hand in Kenya and are a great way to add some color to your table.

$ $ $: Over $100

Graf Lantz Felt Placemats

These sturdy place mats will protect your table from the messiest of eaters! The merino wool material is naturally water and odor resistant, and also offers amazing thermal protection.

Olivewood Serving Board

These hand-carved cheese boards are made from a single piece of olivewood, which means no glues or adhesives are added to the wood. They are the perfect backdrop to your next charcuterie board.

East Fork Serving Bowl (Climate Neutral certified)

This handmade pottery serving bowl from East Fork is perfect for all your serving need- whether it's for movie night popcorn or a salad at a dinner party for 10!

Brightland Olive Oil Duo (BIPOC brand)

There's a reason you've seen Brightland all over social, it's high quality olive oil and beautiful bottle make it a star! The Duo set is the perfect way to try two of their most popular flavors! The olives come from a family-run California farm that does not use pesticides and is committed to organic practices.

Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet

Le Creuset is known for it's quality and beautiful color choices and this enameled cast iron skillet is no exception! This pan will last you a lifetime and is naturally non-stick enough for scrambles and fried eggs. No Teflon chemicals needed.

Fellow coffee Pour Over Coffee and Electric Kettle

This Fellow electric kettle and pour over set are perfect companions for your coffee! These products don't contain any plastic and will make you feel like a certified barista.

Life

Artificial or Real Christmas Tree? What's better for you and the environment.

What toxic chemicals are in artificial Christmas trees and tips for how to stay safe

Artificial Christmas trees are becoming increasingly popular for families. They're seen as being convenient since they don't shed needles and can be reused year after year. Some even come with lights already on them! But is the convenience of artificial Christmas trees worth it? We break down the science and the pros and cons of artificial Christmas trees and farm grown real Christmas trees to help you have a healthy and sustainable Christmas!

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Life

Buying holiday decorations? Here's what you should know

Don't let these chemicals ruin your holiday cheer

You may need to be careful rockin' around the Christmas tree this year! Why you ask? Well, there might be some unexpected chemicals in that holly jolly decoration above your head. Holiday decorations can bring great cheer, but sometimes they can contain an unwanted surprise. Some decorations may be made with toxic chemicals - keep a look out for the ones below!
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