4 Reasons Why Your Mattress Could be Toxic

August 28, 2014 by Roxanne | 4 Comments | Filed in Eco & Toxin-Free Living

http://theholisticmama.com/?p=6628Our world is full of toxins today – they are everywhere. Many parents are aware of this now and are trying to at least minimize the toxins inside their homes. Switching to green cleaning products, using zero VOC’s paints, and changing from plastic food storage containers to glass are some of the ways that many of us parents have started to eliminate toxins in our homes. However, one household item in particular that has probably been overlooked is your mattress.

There are a number of reasons why conventional mattresses are very toxic and could even be causing health problems. Here are the top 4 reasons:

#1 – Flame Retardants

As of July 1, 2007, all U.S. mattresses are required to be flame retardant. As a result, manufacturers are coating them with highly toxic flame-retardant chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), Boric acid, a toxic respiratory irritant used to kill roaches, antimony, a metal that may be more toxic than mercury and formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. What is even worse is that this does NOT have to be disclosed in any way.

PBDEs are certainly not something we want emitting from a mattress on which we spend 1/3 of our lifetime. They have already been outlawed in Canada and Europe. This toxin builds up in your body over time, and what you absorb or inhale does not go away. This is very concerning because of the health problems PBDE is associated with  such as brain and reproductive damage, decreased sperm quality, thyroid problems and even cancer at high levels.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has studied chemically treated mattresses and found that the chemicals do, in fact, leech from the mattress. A person sleeping on a chemically treated mattress will absorb .8 mg of antimony every night, an amount that is 27 times more than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says is safe. 

#2 – Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is often part of the flame retardants in mattresses and it is also used in the adhesives that hold together different pieces of the mattresses. This is a potentially toxic substance and has been linked to asthma, allergies, and lung, nose, and throat cancers.

#3 –  Pesticides

Non-organic cotton is grown with pesticides. In fact, cotton uses more insecticide than any other single crop. These pesticides are causing illness too. In a 2002 study of pesticide illnesses in California, cotton ranked third among California crops for total number of worker illnesses caused by pesticides. If these chemicals are causing worker illness we probably don’t want to be breathing in its emissions all night long.

#4 – Polyurethane

Since the 1960s, most mattresses have been made of polyurethane foam. Polyurethane is a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds that can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation. This is the material that most conventional memory foam mattresses are primarily made from and it is also part of the padding in coil mattresses.

How can we avoid these toxins?

This is overwhelming, I know. I get sick to my stomach every time I look at this information. These things apply to most mattresses that are sold today but there are some alternatives.

Natural Latex Mattress

Natural Latex is a safe alternative to the popular polyurethane memory foam mattresses. 100% Natural latex begins as a liquid, extracted by ‘tapping’ live rubber trees that grow in tropical climates around the world. This process is just like tapping a Maple tree for the natural sap; trees are not harmed and they provide a sustainable resource for natural latex. The liquid is then washed carefully and whipped into a latex foam material and formed into the layers of a natural latex mattress. The best quality natural latex mattresses are then wrapped in organic cotton and wool. The wool layer gives the fire retardant protection that is needed to meet the standards for fire protection because wool is naturally fire retardant.

I have done a lot of research for natural latex mattress options. Many of the options available are very expensive or don’t have all of the quality standards that I am looking for in a mattress. Plushbeds.com has a high-quality natural latex mattress called the Botanical Bliss Collection which is made of 100% natural latex, organic cotton, and Joma New Zealand wool. I personally own a set of their natural latex pillows which I absolutely love (read my review here).

Right now Plush Beds is having a huge Labor Day Sale so if you have been thinking about upgrading to a non-toxic natural latex mattress this would be a great time to take them up on this offer. The sale includes…

  • $1,200 off all latex mattresses
  • Free Egyptian Sheet set
  • 2 Free 100% natural talalay latex pillows
  • Free Shipping
  • Free Returns (100 night trial period)

Organic Cotton & Wool Coil Mattress

Some people really prefer the traditional coil mattresses over latex. A few safe and chemical free options do exist. If you are shopping for this type of mattress look for one that is made of organic cotton and/or wool. Some non-toxic coil mattresses are made of organic cotton and have a wool wrapping (for its natural fire retardant properties) and some of them are 100% wool.  When researching options for coil mattresses be sure to ask if there are any other chemicals in the mattress such as any possible adhesives that hold the parts together.

These type of mattresses are not easy to find and often (but not always) require a prescription from a Doctor or a Chiropractor. There are a number of online retailers that offer organic coil mattresses. I personally own an organic cotton and wool crib mattress for my children that I purchased online from EcoChoices.

Being aware of these toxins is not easy because once you know about this it’s impossible to go back. Most likely you’ll never want to buy a conventional mattress again. When this information first came across my computer screen I wanted to immediately throw out every mattress in my house and replace them – but I was not financially able to do so. The important thing is that you now know how to make an informed mattress purchase. Take this slow, try not to stress out about it (I know it’s hard not to), and just replace the mattresses in your home one by one.

Were you aware of the toxic chemicals in mattresses? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.




Thank you, as always, for reading and commenting!

Roxanne


A Healthy (and Pretty) Juice Alternative for Kids & Adults

August 21, 2014 by Roxanne | 1 Comment | Filed in Nutrition

healthy juice alternative

Infused water. It’s delicious and refreshing – and you can make it with anything. Vegetables, fruits, and herbs, in any combination you come up with, make a fun and tasty infused water drink.

So what’s wrong with juice?

Juice is not a whole food (obviously), it’s only the sugary part of the fruit without all of the fiber and other good nutrients. Fiber helps to slow down the absorption of sugar so when you eat a whole piece of fruit there is less of a blood sugar spike. With juice, there is nothing to slow it down, so it’s pretty much like drinking sugar water. Serving juice trains a child’s taste buds to always expect and crave sweets.

Drinking juice on a regular basis can contribute to childhood obesity, tooth decay, diabetes, and hyperactivity. It’s not a healthy practice to continue. If you have been giving your children juice regularly and are afraid your children already expect that sweet taste – don’t worry you can still turn things around. Slowly. Coming up with some fun and delicious alternatives is the key.

My experience with Juice

My daughter never had juice. She drank water, breast milk, and the occasional chamomile tea (no sweetner). When she was about 2 years old, we were out at a restaurant with friends and the topic of juice came up. She wanted it. I decided to just let her try it, and not much of it. Within 10 minutes of drinking juice, it was full melt down mode. Crying, kicking, screaming, running around the restaurant. Boy did I regret that! She was only 2 at the time so she was probably too young to handle it at all.

I still don’t give my kids juice at home. That experience totally proved the juice theory to me so I stay away from it. I will admit though – I’m not perfect – once in a while if we are at a birthday party or social event I do let my 4 year old have a juice box as a treat (against my better judgement).

Juice alternatives

There are some things you can start serving as a replacement to juice. These are even good options if you don’t do juice at all and just want something different once in a while.

Infused Water Combination Ideas

Infused water is super simple to make. Just cut up your fruits and veggies, add to a glass container, and pour in the water! Always use filtered water or spring water (why? read this post on tap water). Within 30 minutes it’s ready to drink. The longer it sits the more the flavors develop. Here are some combinations to try.

cucumber lemon water

  • Cucumber, Mint
  • Cucumber, Lemon (pictured)
  • Strawberry, Lemon, Basil
  • Watermelon, Mint
  • Watermelon, cucumber
  • Strawberry, Lime
  • Blueberry, Lavender
  • Blueberry, Mint (pictured)
  • Raspberry, Vanilla
  • Pineapple, Mint
  • Orange, Cucumber

Do you make infused water? What is your favorite combination? Please share in the comments below!




Thank you, as always, for reading and commenting!

Roxanne


What’s Wrong with Drinking Tap Water?

August 14, 2014 by Roxanne | 9 Comments | Filed in Eco & Toxin-Free Living

http://theholisticmama.com/?p=6584

Drinking enough water is a very important part of a healthy diet. Everyday the body releases 10-15 cups of water and that water needs to be replenished with clean pure drinking water. There is a growing problem of chronic dehydration today and many people do not recognize the symptoms. Some possible symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Headaches
  • Premature aging
  • High cholesterol
  • Weight gain

If you are plagued with any of these problems it would be a good idea to start being mindful of the amount of water you drink each day. In addition to the amount of water you drink, it is also important to consider the quality of the water you drink.

The topic of clean water has been in a lot of recent news locally where I live. Although I have been filtering my drinking water for many years, it is still a big concern to me. Our water is treated with disinfectants before it is sent through the faucet. There is no filtration plant where I live, the water comes from an unfiltered pond and is treated with chemicals to kill any possible hazards. The real problem is that combining any organic with inorganic matter forms chemicals called disinfection byproducts. The Environmental Protection Agency has standards for controlling the levels of these byproducts in the drinking water and our local tests have failed on multiple occasions. One of the failed tests even happened to be at an elementary school.

What’s wrong with Disinfection Byproducts?

The EPA has studied the effects of Disinfection Byproducts (DBP’s) on laboratory rats which has shown that several of the disinfection byproducts to be carcinogenic. Some disinfection byproducts have also been shown to cause adverse reproductive or developmental effects in laboratory animals

Other Dangers in Your Drinking Water

Merocla.com referenced a report in New Scientist, a comprehensive survey of U.S. drinking water reveals that drinking water is also likely laced with a wide variety of pharmaceuticals and chemicals that may effect hormones.

The 11 most frequently detected compounds were:

  • Atenolol, a beta-blocker used to treat cardiovascular disease
  • Atrazine, an organic herbicide banned in the European Union which has been implicated in the decline of fish stocks and in changes in animal behavior
  • Carbamazepine, a mood-stabilizing drug used to treat bipolar disorder
  • Estrone, an estrogen hormone secreted by the ovaries and blamed for causing gender changes in fish
  • Gemfibrozil, an anti-cholesterol drug
  • Meprobamate, a tranquilizer used in psychiatric treatment
  • Naproxen, a painkiller and anti-inflammatory linked to increases in asthma incidence
  • Phenytoin, an anticonvulsant used to treat epilepsy
  • Sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic
  • TCEP, a reducing agent used in molecular biology
  • Trimethoprim, another antibiotic

So What Can We Do?

Drinking straight tap water is just not a safe and healthy option anymore. There are really only two safe options.

Spring Water

Spring water is a healthy option because its not treated with disinfectants and it tends to have a neutral pH. This does not include “spring water” on the shelf at the grocery store. The best spring water comes right out of the ground from springs that you visit yourself. I just came across a really neat website called FindaSpring.com where you can find a natural spring near you. The added bonus is that most of these springs are actually free. When visiting a spring, bring along glass jugs to fill up to avoid leeching chemicals in plastics (read this post Why you should not buy BPA free plastics).

Filtered Drinking Water

The easiest and most economical way to get clean pure water is to use a filter for your drinking water. There are a few different types of water filters.

Reverse Osmosis Filter

Reverse Osmosis filters can remove chlorine, inorganic, and organic contaminants in your water and will also remove about 80 percent of the fluoride and most DPBs. One problem with this type of system is the expense of installing an RO filter as most need a plumber to get up and running. Reverse Osmosis filters also tend to remove beneficial minerals from the water as well.

Ion Exchange Filter

Ion exchange is designed to remove dissolved salts in the water, such as calcium. This system actually softens the water or exchanges natural-forming mineral ions in the water with its own ions, thereby neutralizing their harmful effect of creating scale build-up.

Carbon Filters

These are the most common types of counter top and under counter water filters. Granular activated carbon is recognized by the EPA as the best available technology for the removal of organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals. However, one of the downfalls of granular carbon filters is that the loose material inside can channel–the water creates pathways through the carbon material, escaping filtering.

Ideally, you want a filtration system that offers a variety of methods to remove different contaminants. The water filter that has been recommended to me many times is the Berkey Filter. Several filtration methods are combined and blended to produce a unique filtering process.

How does the Berkey Filter Work?

The Berkey purification elements are composed of a formulation of more than six different media types, all constructed into pores that are so small it makes it impossible for pathogenic bacteria, cysts, parasites, sediment and sedimentary minerals to pass through. These unwanted materials become trapped therefore eliminating them from your drinking water.

In addition, the filter uses adsorption which works to create an ionic barrier similar to surface tension. This blocking process is how the Berkey water filter is able to remove submicron viruses that other brands of water filters cannot without the use of obnoxious chemicals like iodine or chlorine.

Lastly, the heavy metals ions (mineral molecules) are extracted from the water through an Ion exchange process where they are attracted to and transformed by electrically bonding to the media.

Another feature of this filter is that it takes several minutes for the water to pass through it so the water is in contact with the filter for a longer period of time.This longer contact time between the water molecules and the filter media, provides much greater removal rates of harmful water contaminates.

I have personally been researching water filtration products for a long time and have even tried a few myself. After learning about the Berkey system for drinking water I haven’t seen any products that have better claims. Berkey is going to be my next purchase in water filtration and I cannot wait to try it for myself.

United Environmental Solutions Summer Sale

United Environmental Solutions has been in business for a little over 2 years. Dan Kelleher, owner, has over 13 years of experience in the water filtration industry. Berkey Filters is one of the products that Dan stands behind. For the month of August, UES is selling select Berkey Filters at a group discount rate. To read about all the details of this sale read this. If you are interested in this special summer sale please contact me.

How do you make sure your drinking water is safe? Please share in the comments below!




Thank you, as always, for reading and commenting!

Roxanne


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