Healthy Home vs. Anti-bacterial Cleaners

Healthy Home vs. Anti-bacterial Cleaners

Spring – a time to clean up our homes and open up our windows. Everyone loves a clean and healthy home, but beware of being “too clean”. In a recent article in The Washington Post, the FDA said “recent research raises ‘valid concerns’ about the possible health effects of triclosan, an antibacterial chemical found in a growing number of liquid soaps, hand sanitizers, dishwashing liquids, shaving gels… It is literally in every type of product – - most soaps, toothpaste, cosmetics, clothes and toys”.

The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) states that the concerns about triclosan are unfounded. Brian Sansoni of the SDA states “It’s more important than ever that consumers continue to have access to these products. It’s a time of increased threats from disease and germs.” Would we expect any other statement from a $ 30 billion cleaning products industry? It is interesting that other countries including members of the European Union have banned or restricted the use of this chemical.

Just how clean is clean?

Anti-bacterial soaps kill 99.6% of germs while regular soap (without triclosan) kill 99.4% of germs. In my opinon, it is not worth the .2% risk to use a chemical which has been found to cause health effects such as disrupting the endocrine system as well as creating bacteria which is becoming resistant to antibiotics. In 2005, the FDA said that there is no evidence that the antibacterial soaps work any better than soap and water.

Back to the Basics

If you are looking for a “natural” alternative to the chemical warfare, try vinegar.
Vinegar kills 99% – viruses, 82% – mold, 80% – bacteria
If you do not like the vinegar smell (which dissipates in about 5 minutes) you can add your favorite 100% pure essential oil.

Many hand sanitizers, such as Purell, use alcohol and do not contain triclosan. You need to read the label.

April Healthy-n-Green design principle:  Safe Maintenance Products

For more information, read The Washington Post article                                  

Abalone Shell – One shells ‘trash’ is a jewel for your home to treasure

                        One shell’s ‘trash’ is a jewel for  your home to treasure.  


 This could be said for the abalone shell, which is a by-product of the abalone sea snails.

 The inside layer of the shell is made up of mother of pearl, which are in a variety of beautiful iridescent changing colors. This material is used in many decorative objects. The meat inside is considered a delicacy, and the shells are a by-product of catching paua for their meat. The paua fishery is managed with a quota system in order for the sustainability of this natural resource. Paua fisher’s free-dive and pry the mollusks from the rocks. This beautiful by-product has been adored for centuries.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As a designer, the sky is the limit in using this material. Use it on the walls, floors or anywhere you want a special detail. I have used it as an accent inlay in floors and it is stronger than most man ceramics and/or granite. The photo above shows it being used to frame out a mirror in a stairwell. Be creative and have fun using this unique material – it will reward you with its iridescent qualities that change like the skyline.

check out other uses at    Gallery Photos

Green Renovations Get Tax Credits

                       Green Renovations  =  Green Tax Credits       

             Green stimulus bill saves money in green home renovations. 

Now is the time to get going on that renovation you have been dreaming of.  Tax credits which were effective for  2009 have been extended to 2010 and have been raised from 10% to 30%. The maximum credit has tripled from $ 500.00 to $ 1,500.00 for 2009 – 2010. Some larger ticket items like solar, and geothermal have higher maximums.

Have a home built before 1983? A 2008 California study revealed that retrofitting older homes can have four to eight times more cost savings and carbon savings compared to new home energy efficiency options. Also noted was “homes built before 1983 are to blame for 70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions related to single-family energy consumption in California”. An investment of $ 10,000.00 in retrofitting a 1960’s home for energy efficiency could save 8.5 tons of carbon.                 

Here are a few Green Tips for Tax Credits:

1. Use no- VOC paint. Painting is the fastest, least expensive design trick in the book. You can help save the planet and your health by using no-VOC paint. Traditional paints contain VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) which make our indoor air polluted.
2. Environmentally-friendly flooring is beautiful and healthful. Bamboo, a grass which matures in 3 to 5 years, is a renewable resource. It is very resilient and has a variety of colors available. Cork is also a sustainable product, as it is peeled from the cork tree. It has also been used commercially because of its superior acoustical properties as well as durability and ease of maintenance. Marmoleum flooring is a type of linoleum flooring. It is extremely durable, and is made from natural raw materials such as linseed oil, flax, wood flour and rosins. These floors are stain resistant, biodegradable at the end of its useful life, and even resistant to bacteria growth. Remember to use green adhesives and maintain with green cleaners.
3. Energy Star Ceiling Fans 50% are more efficient than conventional fans and use less energy to operate. Programmable thermostats allow you to control the cooling/heating needs up to 4 settings a day. Why cool/heat a home when you aren’t there?
4. There is a home-shell improvement credit for insulation, windows, doors and sealing. Studies have shown about 1/3rd of energy loss could be stopped by preventing air leaks by caulking and insulating. By installing double-pane windows offer insulation as well as soundproofing from the outside noise. By installing skylights, you may also reduce your need to use artificial lighting.
5. HVAC (home heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) investment in renewable energy systems is eligible for credit until Dec. 31, 2016. We spend 50 – 70% of energy in heating and cooling our homes. Efficient air-conditioners and furnaces will save you money in energy costs.
6. Energy-star appliances will help reduce your energy and water costs. The refrigerator is one of the homes highest consumers of energy. Front load washers will help reduce water consumption as well as reduce the amount of detergent you need to use.
7. Alternative energy: A nonrefundable tax credit will also be for installing a solar hot water heater and geothermal heat pumps.

Always consult your tax advisor to get the current rules.  For more information:
Energy Star –
IRS –,,id=206871,00.html

March:  Healthy-n-Green Tip – Laws that affect our health and wallets

Healthy-n-Green Unplugged!


This morning I was interviewed by TBN Unplugged!  (Cincinnatti Based Tri-City Business Network) 

The interview was general information about what I do as an enteprenuer.  This photo represents what I do:  Healthy Interiors that promote wellness.  I have been a licensed Interior Designer for over 23 years, WOW that is scary!    I fell into creating healthy interiors after having asthmatic children – and trying to create a safe-haven for them.  Many years of research has followed – and of course the internet has made that journey much easier. 

The purpose of my blog is to educate and empower anyone who wants to create their own healthy interior.  Knowledge is power – and ignorance is bliss.  Sometimes it takes trying to protect a loved one to realize how important everyones health is.   We are just learning about how our indoor air is contributing and many times causing illness.  Asthma, allergies, ADHD, cancer etc etc. is all on the  rise.  We as individuals can find ways to make the right choices in our own homes, offices and public buildings.  It isn’t hard, it is about choices. 

I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions on how I can better serve you.  My goal is to spread information I find, advocate for healthy interiors and help you create a space that is not only beautiful, but healthy-n-green! 

Listen to the short interview to find out what I am up to:

To healthyliving!


Asthma drug warning – prevent asthma with a healthy interior

Drugs = health risk
Healthy Interiors = healthy life

Having healthy indoor air quality in your home or office is the number one preventitive for controlling your asthma. Having the FDA issues a warning on 4 Asthma Drugs should be enough cause for concern.

Anyone taking Advair, Symbicort, Foradil or Serevent should read the article linked below from Forbes Magazine. The FDA warns that only asthmatics who can not control their asthma should take these medications,and in very short time frames, as the medicines might make the asthma worse.

Having two children with asthma, I completely understand the need for medicine. When a child can’t breathe, nothing else matters. What I have learned is that there are many natural ways to control asthma. And, it starts with the quality of air you or your child is breathing.

It is really easy to understand that if we are trying to lose weight, we can’t be going through drive-thrus before heading out to the nearest ice cream store.  It is common sense.  The same goes for someone with lung disease, whether it is asthma, COPD or even pneumonia. The air should be as free from allergens and toxins as possible.

Be aware! C.A.R.E. about your indoor air will help put the principles of a healthy-n-green space. The are:
C.   Choose healthy products
      no VOC paints, unscented products or airfresheners
A.   Air out and ventilate
      open your windows and “flush” out the built-up
      toxins …. even for a few minutes. control the
      moisture to below 60% – use exhaust fans
R.   Reduce dust and allergens
      remove carpeting if possible – replace with hard
      use air-cleaning machines with HEPA filters
      encase bedding with dust mite protectors
     do NOT burn candles or incense inside
E.  Eliminate exposure to toxins
     do NOT smoke or perform hobbies which require
     toxic chemicals inside
     remove shoes at the door, and place large walk-off
     mats at each entrance
     use integrated pest management principles like bait,
     traps and natural deterrents to avoid pests

These are simple steps that you can make over time – or all at once.  You and your family deserve to breathe healthy indoor air  -  it starts with taking control of your health.    When we rely on medications to do it for us, we have to suffer the consequences which we may not know for decades. 

read the entire article:                                                                            

Formaldehyde in Vicoria Secrets bras?

Formaldehyde in Victoria Secrets bras?

Now, I have heard it all – formaldehyde in their bras is being blamed for making some women sick. We do live in a toxic world – but our bras?

You may be asking “why” would they put formaldehyd in a bra? It is used in so many building products such as flooring, particleboard, and cabinetry – so what is its purpose in material? (especially in a bra)

It is widely used in the fabric industry, ever heard of permanent press? It also is an anti-wrinkle, anti-shrink and helps resist mildew.  But, formaldehyde is listed as a probable carcinogen. Repeated exposure can exacerbate asthma, wheezing, coughing – and create severe allergeric reactions. Irritation in the eyes, nose and throat as well as headaches and fatigue.

It was well publicized thata people who were in “Katrina” trailers were becoming sick from the high levels of formaldehyde exposure. Heat and humidity will increase the emissions of the resins – so the levels are unpredictible. The regulation in the US is very lax compared to other countries. The acceptable level for the US is 300 ppm, while Japan is only 75 ppm.

There are alternatives when designing for your healthy home. Ask for formaldehyde free cabinetry and building products. Make smart choices for your family’s health.  You need to beware of what you eat, drink, breathe AND wear! 

to read the entire Victoria Secret article:

Hair Goes Green – Not a happy daughter

Teenager with Green Hair -  Not happy

I have spent the weekend listening to my teenager tell me how her hair has “turned green.” Of course, I have to laugh about it and tell her that I am doing it while she sleeps, since I want to make the world Healthy-n-Green. (NOT a good answer!)

Anyone who has a teenager – which I so fondly call “mean-agers” will understand how I have to find a little humor in this dilema. (it is called survival for mothers)   As, EVERYTHING is a crisis at this age – and GREEN hair is no exception.   I have to admit, if it were apparent to me that her hair was really green, I would be more concerned.    But, when I have to put on my reading glasses to “see” it….I feel it is okay to laugh – just a little.

After calling my guru-hairdresser friend, she advised me that it was probably some encounter with chlorine – which I knew not to be true, because we don’t use it in our water.    But, I listened to her and got the “chlorine-removal” shampoo.   Guru then told us “this is a little wierd, but, next you need to put ketchup all over her hair to get the ph back in balance.”   Okay……..suuuurrrreee!!

 Here I am, on a Saturday night squeezing Heinze ketchup all over her head. I admit, the “anticipation”  (sorry for the pun) was killing me!!   No one can tell me my life is boring! I told my daughter we needed a few fries to go with her head……again, she was NOT amused.

When the “process” was finished – she stomped downstairs…….(with dry hair) crying….”It’s STILL GREEN!!” – as she reached for the magnifying glass.       Ahhh…..the drama never ends!      “I can’t go to school…..all my friends said why is my hair green?” (the answer of course is….your mom turned it green)

After googling – I found that maybe there is too much copper in my water. This could be the reason for my green tub and toilets! :)     And to think, I thought I truly WAS turning the world Green!   Tomorrow, we are off to the Drug Store to get “silver-hair shampoo”  which is supposed to be “purple” – to get the green out.    My question  is….do we put mustard on her head after this one?

(please feel free to send any advice -  this is NOT what I meant when I said Iwanted to paint the world green)

Martha Stewart turns Home Depot from Orange to Green

The Green Revolution is here to stay.

We know if Martha Stewart is launching a green cleaning line – it is not a trend, fad, or only for the eco-minded treehuggers. Martha has gone from “do-it-yourself” recipes to “buy it” products. And to really clarify that green is here to stay, Home Depot is where you can buy her brand – Martha Stewart Clean.

To make sure a product is truly green – we need to make sure we know the ingredients. I anticipate there will be full disclosure on each label, so the average person understands the ingredients. Personally, I am very happy that Martha is taking the role of educating others on the importance of green cleaning. Too many negative health impacts have been proven from the traditional methods of cleaning. Health studies linking women and our vulnerable children to cancer, asthma, allergies and many other health problems are enough reason to switch to green

I don’t endorse any products, I educate others to understand how to make your living space healthy-n-green. The more demand we as consumers place on the larger companies, the more choices we will have. Reading labels should be simple and easy – words you can understand and pronounce. No hidden “inert” ingredients.

I remember walking the aisles of Home Depot only a few years ago, searching for green products. Nothing. Times have changed…..and for the better. Martha Stewart is unrolling her natural cleaning and laundering products later this year. Let’s hope they are made with green integrity. Do you think Home Depot will change from orange to green?

Perseverance, dedication and commitment

The Winter Olympics have begun, and I watch in awe of each athlete’s dedication to his sport. The hours of focus and training just to get to the Olympics are an accomplishment in itself. Perseverance, dedication and commitment are words that come to mind in their unrelentless goal for excellence.

I write this blog, in celebration of the spirit of sportsmanship, dedication and attaining goals. It is not written about my usual topic of how to create a Healthy-n-Green interior. It is written out of respect to those who are presently competing in the Olympics as well as celebrating those from the past.

On the eve of the opening ceremony, I watched with sadness as the fatal accident in the Luge competition claimed the young life of Nodar Kumaritashvili. It was the second luge death in Olympics history, the first death occurring in 1964. Many sports are very dangerous, and the luge is no exception.
As with any tragedy, there will be a lot of questions to why this happened. And, it is important to ask the questions – and eventually there will be answers.

I felt the need to give my personal condolence to this young athlete, his family and his Georgian team.

Lead is in the air…causing ADHD??


Lead is in the air………..causing ADHD?

February – the month of hearts, chocolates and wonderful gifts. Is love in the Air … or is it Lead??!! As we look to have a romantic time with our loved ones, remember that those candles you may be burning could be releasing lead, perfumes, paraffin and carcinogenic dyes. I don’t mean to ruin the mood or ambience – just beware!

A recent study published in the February 2010 issue of Psychological Science (Current Directions) states that lead may be a cause of ADHD, according to Joel Nigg, (a psychological scientist at Oregon Health & Science University). He stated that lead might disrupt brain activity in a way that leads to hyperactivity and attention problem. The American Association of Psychological Science states that lead is a prime suspect among possible environmental causes of ADHD. Researchers have been trying to determine the cause for 30% of cases – since genes are believed to be responsible for up to 70% of ADHD in children.

Where is lead found?

Lead is a known neurotoxin, and has been found in nearly all US children at varying levels, the report stated. It can be found in the soil, (which can be later tracked into our homes), our drinking water and costume jewelry in addition to candles. The focus of this blog is candles. Once they are burned, the lead is airborne. Besides breathing the lead fumes, children are more at risk because the particulates are left on the floor, furniture and walls – and then children put their hands in their mouths.

Do we REALLY need to risk it?

Of course, the best thing would to not burn candles at all. Even if you have an all-natural candle with essential oils, bees-wax and cotton wicks – you are still breathing particulates in the air.  Breathing any type of pollution is not good. But, for those who insist on the ambience of candles – here are a few tips:

- The National Candle Association says to take a piece of white paper and rub it on the tip of an un-burned wick. If no mark is left, the candle is lead-free. If the wick leaves a light grey pencil-line mark, it has a lead core.
- Don’t use candles in jars when the candle leaves a soot ring on the jar’s lip. It may be lead dust.
- Look for beeswax candles with pure paper or cotton wicks.
- Try aromatherapy by putting a few drops of 100% pure essential oil in boiling water or in a defuser – a tray with a light bulb to heat it.

Protect your kids and family from preventable long-term damage. Love is not in the air when we are breathing lead. Long-term irreversible damage is done. Prevention is key to keeping our indoor air healthy.

Have a Healthy-n-Green® Valentines Day! (buy some chocolate:o)

February Healthy-n-Green® Tip: Personal Care Products