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  • InCurrent Research, Green Cleaning, Non-toxic Home

    Is Your Pillow a Petri Dish?

    Plus, 9 Ways to Reduce Toxins in Your Bedroom (including dust mites and airborne pollution)

    It’s time to get tough on toxins in your bedroom – most specifically, that petri dish we call a pillow.

    Did you know that we literally spend ⅓ of our lives asleep? Everything touching your skin during those precious hours of sleep interacts with our bodies over the course of a night (and a lifetime) on some level.

    If you live 75 years, you’ll spend 25 years trying to get some shut eye!

    And nobody, and we mean nobody, wants to sleep in a petri dish of bacteria, fungal spores, dead skin cells, and mites. Have you heard about or read a few of the news articles circulating that your pillow and mattress become heavier over time due to the accumulation of dead skin cells, sweat, dust mites, and dead dust mites? We did a little digging and it turns out . . . this is true.


    A person sheds millions of skin cells every day and you’re spending approximately 8 of those hours in bed. And unfortunately, dust mites thrive on skin cells and the humid environment of your pillow.  

    Signs of allergies triggered by your pillow are runny or stuffy nose, coughing, even wheezing and asthma attacks.

    Monsters hiding IN the bed

    Okay, but don’t freak out because this is (mostly) fixable. Focus on keeping your current pillows very clean and replace as often as you need to. If you have dust mite allergies (10% of the population does) or any kind of autoimmune suppression, consider replacing them more often (as often as every 6 months or so ) but replace them at LEAST every three years.

    An impermeable barrier between your pillowcase and pillow helps a lot to reduce mites. So check out the variety of zippered pillow covers in addition to your pillow case, so that you’re not getting cozy with the critters.

    Your bedroom might be making you sick.

    is your pillow a petri dish?Your sleep environment can have a dramatic impact on your health. Another thing to consider is that you might be allergic to your pillow itself. If you’re using a down (feather) pillow and have allergies, you might want to skip the feathered pillows for something washable. If your current pillow is not made of down or memory foam, get that baby in the washing machine with hot water.

    A mattress retailer did a poll and discovered that 80% of respondents indicated that they struggle with allergies. “Experts recommend that you purchase dust mite-proof sheets and pillow covers, and make sure to wash your pillow every three to six months in hot water with liquid detergent.”

    As a final note about your pillow, if you’ve never replaced your pillow, you are well overdue for a new one.

    If you’re going to upgrade your sheets, pillow cases, and pajamas, can we just say GO ORGANIC. Cotton crops uses 16% of ALL of the pesticides used! More than any other crop in the world. Consider upgrading to breathable pajamas and organic cotton sheets. Cotton is just dripping with pesticides with disastrous effects on the earth and the farmers. And while tests show that these pesticides do not make it to the fabric stage of cotton production, cotton batting however may still contain toxic residue. states that it’s imperative to buy organic cotton batting, as used in a mattress or pillow. Especially since this filler can be used in crib mattresses!

    One last tip to breathe easier at night

    As we discussed earlier in our post 10 NASA-Approved Air Purifying Houseplants, we suggest using plants to clean the air that you’re breathing, especially in the bedroom. A few particular plant varieties are excellent at removing airborne toxins such as formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and benzene which we can guarantee that don't want to be breathing at night.


    9 Tips for Sleeping Easier:

    1. Toss your sheets and pillow cases in the washing machine
    2. Buy zippered pillow covers to reduce dust mites
    3. Throw out old pillows and replace them with new ones at LEAST every 3 years
    4. Consider adding air purifying houseplants
    5. Consider upgrading to breathable organic cotton sheets
    6. Evaluate whether it’s time to replace your mattress or get a PVC-free mattress cover
    7. Dust regularly (you’re breathing the air in this room for 7-9 hours every single night – that’s 3,000 hours per year!)
    8. Vacuum regularly, with a HEPA filter vacuum if possible
    9. Consider buying and using a HEPA air purifier

    So…when was the last time you changed out your pillows? Is it time?

    9 ways to reduce toxins in your bedroom

  • InCurrent Research, Healthy Baby

    Canadian Testing Shows No BPA in Over 200 Samples of Infant Formula, Pre-packaged Fruits and Juice

    As you know, Bisphenol-A (BPA) can migrate from the epoxy coatings of aluminum cans right into the food, especially in hot-filled or heat-processed foods.  So I was intrigued to learn that testing done by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) showed absolutely no BPA in 234 samples of domestic and imported infant formula, pre-packaged fruit and juices.

    The samples were collected from retail stores in 11 Canadian cities from 2010-2011 and included 127 dairy and soy infant formula samples (powdered, ready-to-serve and concentrate), 92 processed, pre-packaged fruit product samples, and 15 fruit juice samples.

    Several types of packaging materials were sampled too, including plastic, paperboard coated with waterproof plastic (Tetra Pak), paperboard cans with metal ends, metal cans, and glass jars with metal lids.  And not a single sample tested positive for BPA.

    The survey was conducted to provide baseline surveillance data that may be used by Health Canada to update the estimated exposure of the Canadian population to BPA through food consumption.  And while there is no ban on BPA in food packaging in Canada, Health Canada plans to conduct ongoing assessments to monitor for increased BPA levels.  If testing reveals a problem, the CFIA will determine whether further action is needed, including product seizure and/or recall.

    This info is a little baffling in light of testing done by the FDA a few years ago showing what they called “small amounts” of BPA in ready-to-feed formula.  Those small amounts can add up to quite a bit considering the enormous amount exclusively bottle fed babies consume.

    Could it be that formula makers have quietly removed BPA in recent years?  At this point, we just don't know because the CFIA didn't release the names of the products they tested.  I contacted them about that and they sent me the full report, but no specifics were given.  I promise to let you know if I learn anything further, though.

    In the meantime, be sure to check out our list of BPA-free baby foods and SafeMama's baby formula cheat sheet.  If you don't find your brand listed there, please let us know if you've confirmed it with the manufacturer as BPA-free and we'll review it as a possible addition to help other parents out.

    Photo Source: Flickr N-lite Nutrihealth


  • InCurrent Research, Toxic Plastic, Toys & Misc

    What is Styrene Ethylene Butylene Styrene (SEBS) and is it Safe?

    It's becoming more common to see Styrene Ethylene Butylene Styrene (SEBS) used as a substitute for PVC in toys.  But the question is whether it's a safer replacement or not . . .

    What is SEBS?

    SEBS is actually a form of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) with styrene added.  Green Peace lists SEBS as an acceptable alternative to PVC in toys.  Polyolefin plastics such as Polyethylene (PE) and Polypropylene (PP) are the most common building blocks for SEBS, which don't need plasticizers (like phthalates) or stabilizers (like lead) for flexibility.

    According to

    Additives, such as plasticizers and stabilizers, are a necessary component of all PVC formulations.  Without these additives, PVC is brittle, degrades easily, and is unversatile. Softeners are not chemically bound to the PVC polymer, but rather float around the polymer, like water in a sponge, giving the plastic the flexibility required.

    SEBS is already used in the production of toys (teething rings by Tolico in Denmark) and can replace PVC for the production of dolls heads (with hair) using rotational molding techniques, one of the most difficult PVC substitutions.

    So Where is SEBS Rubber Normally Found?

    Often called by the brand name Kraton®, SEBS is used in a wide variety of general-purpose rubber items as well as in handlebar grips, toothbrushes, sports mouth guards, diapers (as the elastic component) and teethers.  The chemical resistance of SEBS is similar to natural rubber, having excellent resistance to water, acids, and bases.

    My Conclusion

    So long, complicated story short – – toys like Boon's Odd Ducks are a safer option than the hundreds of other PVC yucky duckies out there!

    >> Hop over to our store for loads of carefully researched BPA, PVC and Phthalate-free bath toy options 🙂

    P.S.  On an interesting side note, SEBS is also used in the electrical industry for such items as flexible cords.  Hmmmm . . .  now I'm wondering why we're not seeing more SEBS in place of PVC electrical cords.  I'll be looking into that!


    The Quest to Replace Plasticized PVC Tubes

    Frontiers in the Science and Technology of Polymer Recycling

    Thermoplastic Elastomers Market