Archive for the ‘Green’ Category

True or False?

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

True or False:  Aerosol is bad for the environment?

True or False:  Aerosols damage the Earth’s ozone layer?

True or False:  Aerosol use has been banned in the US?

In our survey, 90% of the respondents answered True to the three questions above.  The actual answers are False.

First, we have to get the definition of “aerosol” understood.  Technically, an aerosol is a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in a gas. Examples are clouds. The word aerosol derives from the fact that matter “floating” in air is a suspension (a mixture in which solid or liquid or combined solid–liquid particles are suspended in a fluid.

Now, why are the answers False to the above questions?

Aerosol is bad for the environment?  Aerosols themselves are not bad for the environment.  What may or may not be bad for the environment are the propellants used in aerosol cans.  More and more companies are using natural propellants like nitrogen that are not a green house gas and not toxic.

Aerosols damage the Earth’s ozone layer?  Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were once often used as an aerosol propellant, but since 1989 they have been banned in the US and replaced in nearly every country due to the negative effects CFCs have on Earth’s ozone layer.

Aerosol use has been banned in the US?  No, aerosol spray cans are still produce in the US; CFC were banned in 1989.  Look on the grocery shelves and you still find food sprays like PAM, whip cream and  many more on the shelves.

So, why after 22 years do we still feel that aerosols are bad?

What do you thin?




Common (Product) Sense

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

I wish I could have recorded my conversation with a woman I spoke with the other day who was educated about products by working in a vet’s office because she was saying what I have been preaching for a while …

READ THE LABEL before you buy a product!  Don’t assume that if it is on the grocery shelf that it has automatically been vetted by some governement agency and is safe.   A lot of products, especially cleaning products, contain solvents and strong chemicals which make them effective but unsafe…that’s why you wear gloves when using them and have rinsed away all of the solution once it has done its job.

If the label says, ” Warning!  Before using product throughout your house, use in one room and wait 24 hours to ensure that no one has any physical reactions to the product.” you may want to rethink using the product in your home.

If the label says, “Caution:  Prolonged skin contact may cause skin irritation” or “SKIN: Immediately rinse skin with plenty of water,”  you may want to reconsider using this around your pets who tend to roll on surfaces and lick them.

Now when you do knowling use a product that is toxic, keep your pets and children away from the area until you know that they will not be affected.  Remember, children (especially toddlers and younger) AND pets will crawl, roll and pick up things (or lick things) which all go into their mouths.  Areas to be really careful about are:

1)  Floor areas, especially carpet

2) Yard areas, especially your lawn (when you spray or fertilize)

3)  Furniture, especially your couches and chairs

Just use commmon sense and remember that our pets and small children go where we often do not!

Simon and Quincy




Fragrance Free Day Follow Up #1 – Essential Oils Toxic To Cats

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Why Essential Oils are Toxic to Cats…

Most essential oils are made up of hydrocarbons and terpenoids. In dogs, horses and humans, the terpenoids are transported to the liver to be metabolized after the oils have been absorbed through the skin or inhaled into the lungs.  After the necessary metabolic processes occur in the liver and bloodstream, the remaining water-soluble metabolites are eliminated through the urine and feces.

But cats are different. Cats lack the liver enzyme (glucuronyl tranferase) that would allow them to break down these compounds.  So it takes much longer for the metobolites to be eliminated from the feline system.  In cats, these otherwise harmless substances can build up in the liver, sometimes very quickly, depending on the amount of exposure. This can cause toxicity problems and liver damage.  It’s usually a slow process and doesn’t show up until it’s too late.

Here is a partial list of essential oils that should be avoided with cats from Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell. (This list is not necessarily inclusive and there are no assurances of it’s accuracy).

Essential Oils High in Monoterpene Hydrocarbons

Lemon Lime
Orange Bergamot
Tangerine Pine
Mandarin Spruce
Grapefruit Fir

Essential Oils High in Phenols

Cassia (cinnamon) Thyme
Clove Savory

Other sources list additional oils as toxic to cats.  According to, the following essential oils are very toxic to cats:

Citrus oils
Clove (Eugenol)
Tea Tree also states that any products containing linalool (found in lavender and coriander oils, or d-limonene, found in citrus oils), are toxic to felines.

Essential oils that are safer for use with felines include:


According to Dr. Nancy Brandt, DVM, Thyme should not be used on cats as it is high in phenol.

I hope this sheds a little more light on essential oils.


Fragrance Free Day Panel Q&A

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Thanks to all of you who spread the word about Fragrance Free Day!   This is gaining momentum each year we organize this day to spread the word about how fragrances can harm your and your pets health.

Special thanks to our panelists, Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian, Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist and author of the upcoming book, The Uncomfortable Vet ( and to Dr. Steven Ziman for taking the time to answer questions.

In case any of you were not able to join us for the panet discussion, I have recapped the Q&A from Fragrance Free Day, August 11, 2011:

Question 1 from @alexisel: I Stopped using harsh cleaners in my house, but could those chemicals still be in my carpets/furniture/etc.?
Answer: Yes- You need to use a professional, who will use a 3 step process (clean, rinse, and extract). Make sure they use a biodegradable

Question 2 from @thespottedduck: Can fragrances cause illnesses like asthma in my pets? #fragrancefreeday
Answer: Fragrances can cause a variety of allergic conditions in #pets, including ocular, respiratory & others #fragrancefreeday

Question 3 from @maureensharib: Are fragrances bad for animals?
Answer: Yes, inhaled, ingested, or contact allergies can occur from #pets coming into contact with gragrances #Fragrancereeday

Question 4 from @jeanBNickerson: Which household cleaning products should a new mom be especially cautious of?
Answer: Fragranced cleaning products (Detergent, hand soaps, baby wipes) all come in direct contact with baby’s skin!  Steve Ziman says- Most important may be where you use those products. Best tip is to avoid contact with baby as much as possible.

Question 5 from @missjrf: Are there any non-toxic and/ or all-natural perfumes? Or essential oils that can be used as perfume for women?#fragrancefreeday
Answer: There are but be careful, essential oils that limonene & lavendar oil are natural but can be dangerous from #cats #fragrancefreeday. Also, without ventilation, they react with other compounds in the air & can form potential toxins.

Question 6 from @jordan_feeny: What are some good resources for consumers to educate themselves about chemical fragrances? fragrancefreeday
Answer: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics ( & PollutedPets ( are great resources! #fragrancefreeday

Questions to the panel spurred Dr. Patrick to tweet the following tips!

#1: Avoid cleaning products not deemd #petsafe, as your #dog and #cat ingests while grooming coat/paws.

#2: Use fans & other ventilation systems to circulate household air instead of relying on spray refresheners

#3: #pets’  eyes, nose, throat, & other systems are susceptible to harsh effects of #secondhandfragrance

Because we did not have time to answer any of the questions in more depth, Dr. Patrick and I will be following up on ths blog with more information in response to the questions posed…so look out for more blogs from Dr. Patrick and me around the questions posed on Fragrance Free Day, August 11,2011!



Fragrance – Top 5 Allergens in North America & Europe

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

“Fragarance is now considered among the top 5 allergens in North American and European countries (de Groot 1997, Jansson 2001) and is associated with a wide range of skin, eye and respiratory reactions.  Repeated, cumulative exposure to chemical sensitizers like allergenic fragrance ingredients increases the chance that a person will develop allergic symptons later in life (Buckley, 2003).” The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Environmental Working Group.  May 12, 2010

Join our panel of experts on Thursday, August 11, 2011 from 12 Noon to 1 PM Eastern Standard Time for Fragrance Free Day by sending in your questions via Twitter to #fagrancefreeday on Twitter.  Watch the live feed of questions and answers on



Air Freshener, Deodorizers, Odor Remover Ingredients to Avoid

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Instead of eliminating odors, chemical-based air fresheners and deodorizers can add dangerous chemicals to the air we breathe.

The key to freshening air is to remove (by cleaning) or dilute (by ventilation) the offending odor, and not to cover it with another chemical.

Air fresheners can be made from a number of chemicals including

  • formadehyde –  a carcinogen and sensitizer,
  • naphthalene –  a suspected carcinogen,
  • xylene –  a neurotoxin and possible reproductive toxin,
  • butane gas –  a neurotoxin
  • strong fragrances – fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to 4,000 separate ingredients, most of which are synthetic. Many compounds in fragrance are human toxins and suspected or proven carcinogens.

Some solid eodorizers include

  • paradichlorobenzene –  a carcinogen which can also cause liver and kidney damage.

Again, the key to freshening air is to remove (by cleaning) or dilute (by ventilation) the offending odor, and not to cover it with another chemical.

Quincy and Simon

Simon and Quincy

Floor Cleaner, Wax and Polish Ingredients to Avoid

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Ingredients in conventional floor cleaners, waxes and polish removers to avoid:

  • mineral spirits (or Stoddard solvent) – commonly used as paint thinner and mild solven is neurotoxic and can cause eye and skin irritation
  • petroleum solvents –  commonly used to remove scuff or heel marks are neurotoxic and can cause eye and skin irritation
  • benzene (may be found in petroleum solvents) – linked to aplastic anemia, acute leukemia, and bone marrow abnormalities
  • tripropylene glycol monomethyl ether  –  causes narcosis and kidney injury with repeated and prolonged skin exposure

So, if you find these on the ingredients list, be careful and think twice about the floor cleaner you are using!

Quincy and Simon

Carpet Cleaner Ingredients to Avoid

Monday, July 25th, 2011
Here is a short list of ingredients that you should be concerned with you when selecting carpet cleaners:
  • 1,4-dioxane – detergent that irritates the skin
  • Ammonia – toxic by inhalation
  • Fragrances – fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to 4,000 separate ingredients, most of which are synthetic. Many compounds in fragrance are human toxins and suspected or proven carcinogens.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol – an irritant of the eyes and mucous membranes; at high concentrations, causes central nervous system depression
  • Napthalene – toxic by inhalaltion
  • Perchloroethylene – this is a known carcinogen which affects the central nervous system.  Symptoms include dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, tremors and disorientation.
  • Propylene Glycol Methyl Ether – this is an eye, skin and respiratory irritant

So, if you find these on the ingredients list, be careful and think twice about the carpet cleaner you are using!

Quincy and Simon

Why Use Natural Cleaners?

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Did you know that the average American uses 40 pounds of toxic household cleaning products per year?

Let’s calculate something.  The US population in late 2010, per the US Census, was about 310 million people.  310 million people times 40 pounds each equals 1.240 BILLION pounds of toxic household cleaning products used per year.  That is a lot of toxic chemicals!

So the question is Why Use Natural Cleaners?

  • Toxic chemicals in household cleaners are absorbed into  our bodies through breathing and skin contact.
  • Toxic chemicals are found in our drinking water and our food because:
    • Toxic chemicals from our household cleaners are flushed down our toilets, sinks, washing machines and dishwasers and deposited into our oceans, rivers and possible lakes.
    • Toxic chemicals are deposited into our landfills when we through them out in our trash.

I think those are pretty compelling reasons to switch to Natural Cleaners.  It is not just an ecology thing — it is a health thing!

Quincy and Simon

Hazardous Chemicals – Are We Doing Enough?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

What will it take for the US to really get serious about banning hazardous chemicals?  I’m not a big fan of regulation, but there are some things that need to be regulated because the average consumer has no way of evaluating what is harmful without a Ph.D in chemistry.

Another organization, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recently called for an overhaul of the nation’s chemical management policy because the current system fails to protect children and pregnant women, who are most vulnerable to hazardous chemical exposures.   They amongst others,  call the the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) passed in 1976, outdated and ineffective.

Other groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association have all independently recommended changes to the TSCA…with all of us trying to live heathier lives, why do you think that these calls for change have seemingly fallen on deaf ears?