Category Archives: Your Home

That Nesting Thing (Guest Blog Article for Pregnancy Awareness Month)

If you’re pregnant or just had your baby, the natural instinct to nest may be tugging at you.  You want your home and nursery to be just right for your new baby. Unfortunately, those well-intentioned changes to the home, from painting a room to a full remodel are usually anything but natural. I’d like to suggest you don’t start your house and nursery projects while you’re pregnant or with a newborn.

The reason is simple: the fetus and newborn are sensitive at levels well below what an adult might tolerate. They are extremely vulnerable to toxic chemicals and other contaminants. If you’re familiar with EWG’s Baby Body Burden study, maybe you already know that cord blood contains almost 300 highly toxic chemicals, proving that whatever the mother ingests, inhales and absorbs is passed on to the baby:

Green products and materials are not necessarily non-toxic, and even the least toxic versions, newly installed, are usually too toxic for the developing fetus and newborn until all odors have completely dissipated. It doesn’t matter if they come with green certifications.  Certifications still aren’t good enough, as their standards are limited in scope and are certainly not developed specifically for the newborn or fetus.

Instead, focus on making the house healthier. Put off as much as you can for a few years and make as few changes as possible that are not directly related to health. When your child is older, and past the most critical time in his or her development, you can undertake your safe, non-toxic projects (including precautions for exposures to new, outgassing materials and construction dust).

Here are some tips for healthy home nesting:

  1. Less is more: If you must paint or make even small changes, do not inhale outgassing from new materials, no matter how “green” and “non toxic” they claim to be. Leave while the work is being done and re-enter the house only when ALL odors have dissipated 100%.
  2. Replace all toxic household, cleaning and personal products with non-toxic products:
  3. Check your home for sources of moisture: Whether or not you react to mold, mold is toxic, period, particularly for the developing fetus and newborn. For starters, follow these steps outlined by the EPA:
  4. If you suspect or smell mold, get a mold inspection: Hire an IAQA certified, independent mold inspector to survey your home. (Don’t hire a mold remediation company for the inspection.)
  5. Reduce EMFs: There are many preventive steps you can take at no cost. Learn about them for free on my website and blog:
  6. Caution, carpet removal is toxic: Removing carpet stirs up high levels of toxic chemical-laden dust and microscopic particulates, which pollute the entire house. Remove carpet under airtight containment, and then deep clean the room afterwards. A mold remediation company can most safely remove it and deep clean for you.

This article was originally published on Pregnancy Awareness.

The Parent Trap: Avoid Mistakes in Nursery Projects By Following Three Basic Principles

It’s natural to want your home and nursery to be perfect for your newborn. Unfortunately, the remodeling that many people do in anticipation of the baby’s arrival is typically anything but natural.

But by following these three basic principles, you will avoid the usual traps that well-meaning parents often fall into and optimize your baby’s health – as well as yours. (READ MORE HERE)

Pregnancy, Babies: Putting Health First

Are you pregnant, or planning a family, and is the nesting instinct tugging at you? Many well intentioned but mistaken soon-to-be parents launch into what they assume are healthy green home improvement and remodeling projects in a effort to get the nest ready for their growing families.  Then they discover their remodels are anything but healthy for their babies. In the link to this radio show, I suggest another, safer approach to nesting by prioritizing health:

Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Drywall?

Many people who want to “go green” just figure that they have no choice when it comes to certain materials, like drywall. They assume it’s all the same when it comes to health, or they buy drywall with recycled content and assume it’s healthy.  But is there such as thing a healthy drywall?  Well, yes, there is! And it’s important to know the differences if you want to create an healthy interior and avoid toxic chemicals, including biocides in “green board” that never go away. Learn which brands are best in this article I wrote for Green Home Guide.

Is Drywall Joint Compound Safe?

Many parents with growing families want to remodel or expand their homes and think they’re using “green” or safe products when they install or repair drywall in their homes. So that the joints between the large pieces of drywall don’t show, your installer will be applying “joint compound”, also called “mud”. Joint compound
is also frequently applied all over the drywall as  “skim coat” to create a texture under the paint. Many people mistakenly assume that skim coat is plaster, but it’s not, it’s toxic, conventional joint compound! Conventional joint compounds contain many toxic ingredients that you and your family need to avoid.
For the low down on joint compounds and the safest alternatives, read my article on Green Home Guide:

A Few of My Favorite Natural and Synthetic Wall Paints and Plaster

Whether you’re sprucing up a living room, your kid’s room or turning an “extra” bedroom into a room for your new baby, paint and plaster can be a relatively fast way to make a dramatic change in your home.

Wall paint or plaster covers a lot of square feet, so you can avoid a big source of toxicity by choosing the right products. There are many green choices now, but remember, just because it’s green, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. In this article for Green Home Guide, I list some of my favorite paints and plaster, and explain why some green paints, such as those that contain linseed oil, may not be the best option in some cases.

More Details on Choosing Dry Mix Joint Compounds

You want to build or remodel “green” to protect yourself and your family from unwanted toxins. And you may even know that there are WAY less toxic ingredients in dry mix joint compounds that in the wet-in-the-bucket-ready-to-use versions. But are all dry mix joint compounds created equal? Read why some are healthier than others, and how to pick the best products,  in my article on Green Home Guide:

What You Should Know About Gluing Bamboo Flooring to Concrete

Bamboo flooring might be a great option for your home, but don’t assume that your local green store or flooring contractor is up on everything. Besides choosing the healthiest bamboo flooring and glue, it’s critical that your slab is moisture tested first, and that the perimeter drainage around your home is thoroughly checked and improved, if necessary. Read my recommendations on Green Home Guide:

Bamboo Floor Finishes: What’s the Best?

Installing green, family friendly flooring in your home can be a great idea. One popular choice is bamboo flooring. But  bamboo flooring almost always comes prefinished. Do you know what the bamboo is finished with? There are long and short term issues regarding toxicity and durability of these finishes, and well as possible repercussions  from sanding during future refinishing.  To protect your family from unhealthy choices, read my recommendations on Green Home Guide:

Are Memory Foam Mattresses and Toppers Safe?

Memory foam mattresses and bedding products are big sellers. Some people find them quite comfortable, but others find that they are too soft, and too hot. Many of my chemically sensitive clients over the years have had acute reactions to memory foam mattresses and toppers, including headaches, respiratory problems, and other symptoms. There’s good reason: memory foam is made entirely from petroleum products.  In this article for Green Home Guide, I explain why memory foam mattresses and bedding are not the best choice for healthy sleep.