Sunday, December 16, 2007

Effective January 1 Minnesota becomes the first state to ban mercury from use in mascara, eyeliners and skin-lightening creams. Minnesota will have tougher standards than the Federal Government. Seems odd that mercury would need to be banned - as who would add mercury to cosmetics? Well some manufactures still use mercury as a preservative.

We applaud the new law in Minnesota. Hopefully this idea will spread across the USA and Canada.

Full story available on Canadian Business Online.

Pure Know How

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Plastics Primer

Toxic Nation E-News
Selecting your Plastics: A Break-down

Over the past month Toxic Nation has received a slew of phone calls and emails requesting information on the different plastics we use daily and their relative safety. The following is a description of each recycling number, its use and some potential hazards.
#1 PETE: Polyethylene terephthalate ethylene, used for soft drink, juice, water, detergent, cleaner and peanut butter containers. Scientists advise against the repeated use of plastic water bottles made from plastic type #1 PETE as there is evidence to suggest that such bottles leach a compound known as DEHA, which is classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen, as well as acetaldehyde, which has received the same designation from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
#2 HDPE: High density polyethylene, used in opaque plastic milk and water jugs, bleach, detergent and shampoo bottles and some plastic bags.
#3 PVC or V: Polyvinyl chloride, used for cling wrap, some plastic squeeze bottles, cooking oil and peanut butter jars, detergent and window cleaner bottles.
#4 LDPE: Low density polyethylene, used in grocery store bags, most plastic wraps and some bottles.
#5 PP: Polypropylene, used in most Rubbermaid, deli soup, syrup and yogurt containers, straws and other clouded plastic containers, including some baby bottles.
#6 PS: Polystyrene, used in Styrofoam food trays, egg cartons, disposable cups and bowls, carryout containers and opaque plastic cutlery.
#7 Other: Usually polycarbonate plastic, used in most plastic baby bottles, 5-gallon water bottles, “sport” water bottles, some metal food can liners, clear plastic “sippy” cups and some clear plastic cutlery. New bio-based and bio-degradable plastics may also be labeled as #7.
Plastic with bisphenol A is labeled in the #7 category, which also includes a wide variety of plastics and plastic mixtures that fall into the 'other' category. Unless this #7 is followed by the letters 'PC' (polycarbonate) there's no sure way to tell if the container contains bisphenol A or not.
Avoid using #7 plastics altogether and opt for safer choices for food and beverage storage. These better options include polypropylene (#5 PP), high density polyethylene (#2 HDPE), and low density polyethylene (#4 LDPE).
(Information provided from various sources, including the Smart Plastics Guide of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in the U.S.).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Study: Common Air Fresheners Contain Chemicals That May Affect Human Reproductive Development

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) analyzed 14 different air fresheners and found that 12 contained phthalates, hormone-disrupting chemicals. The phthalates in the air fresheners can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

The NRDC said that while consumers should be concerned about the chemicals, they stressed that there is no cause for panic. The chemicals pose their greatest risk over long term repeated exposure. But of course many who use air fresheners use them day in and day out.

You can read the original Press release at the NDRC site.

Pure Know How

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Story of Stuff

A faithful subscriber pointed this engaging "story" out to us ... thanks Erin. It connects the dots on how we "get our stuff" from product inception to buying in the shops to the impact on our earth upon disposal. Did you know that of all the "stuff" we buy, we only have 1% remaining at the end of a six month period.

To view:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Yea for a "precautionary" MEC

We congratulate Mountain Equipment Coop, a retailer across Canada for all things to get you "moving out-of-doors" on its decision to discontinue selling most food and beverage containers made of polycarbonate plastic from its shelves, citing concern over possible health risks. The plastic in question is made mostly from bisphenol A (BPA), which mimics estrogen and is derived from petrochemicals.

This company is following the Precautionary Principle which we, at Pure Know How, believe is a prudent approach to the chemical soup we now live in.

For more info on Plastics see our Plastic Water Bottles e-bulletins.

Patti & Tamey
Pure Know How

Globe & Mail Article

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Breakout Busters

I found this nifty product by
Rocky Mountain Soap Company
. It comes in a tube - like you would have for a lip balm but contains sweet almond oil, beeswax, cocoa butter and essential oils of tea tree, lemon, grapefruit, peppermint, lavender and chamomile. Each of these oils has either anti-septic and antibacterial properties or soothing and skin calming properties. So when you feel a bump about to break out - just dab a bit on. A similar type product is Heal by Essential Botanicals which has a roll-on applicator and uses essential oils to treat acne, infections, scrapes and cuts.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Natural Toy Guide

This Toy Guide by Natural Moms details 4 tips to help you choose safe and timeless toys. It provides an interesting perspective on toy quality - both in long lasting and in play value. If you are a parent just getting into the "toy arena" or a parent already immersed in "toyland", it provides some points to ponder about children’s playthings.

Pure Know How

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No rubber duck in the bath?

The concern about hormone disrupting bisphenol A leaching from plastics is real. A recent study by Environment California Research & Policy Centre reported the 5 most popular baby bottles brands - Avent, Dr. Brown's, Evenflo, Gerber and Playtex - leached BPA at levels found to cause harm in numerous animal studies. The report recommends using glass or safer non-polycarbonate plastics.

What about the rubber ducky?

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastic is used to make many kids products. PVC contains phthalates, a plastiziser additives which leach out of the toys. Look for PVC-free on the labels of soft plastic toys and teeters.

Anyone found PVC-free toys or non-polycarbonate plastic bottles and cups? Blog it.

Useful tip sheet from Environment California.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Water Jugs

A Pure Know How subscriber sent us an email asking about the large water jugs that are used on top of water cooler. They typically are composed of #7 plastics which have shown to leach bisphenol A (BPA). See our e-bulletin on Plastics Water Bottles.

Are there glass water jugs available? Do they come with spring/treated water? Do you have to be a superhero to lift them up to the water cooler?
We have not heard or seen glass water jugs - have you?
Let us know … blog it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bottles Bottles Everywhere!

These photos, taken by Seattle-based Chris Jordan, depict two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes. Make sure you look at all 3 pictures – it’s cool art and freaks you out at the same time.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Pure Know How in the big city!

Well we were part of Toronto's first ethical and ecologically responsible holiday tradeshow for moms - The Mom 2 Mom Holiday Show.

We meet some great women who have environmentally friendly and non-toxic products. From cleaning, body care to couture clothing!

As we try their products we will let you know here, so that you can visit our site for our reviews.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Bus Ride

I was on the bus today for the first time in years...all was going well (I had yet to touch anything) when a woman came out of nowhere and attacked me.

OK that's an exaggeration, but her perfume was enough to knock me out. Coupled with a 40-minute stop and go bus ride the perfume was making me feel sick to my stomach. I was happy for the fresh air by the time I arrived at my destination.

While your here, fill out the poll (right top corner) on how scents affect you.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Are you my Mom?

Are you my Mom? That's what my seven-year-old daughter asked me when I got in from having my hair done at Pure Joy Natural Hair Studio today. She really thought I looked good, and let me tell you that's not something that happens everyday!

I had my hair both coloured and cut...but will focus on the colour as that is what makes Joy's salon so different. But quickly the cut is fabulous...I am really pleased with it and I think I can make it look the same tomorrow.

Now the colour. My first realization as Joy was applying the colour was that there was no chemical scent, and the reason for that is there are NO chemicals in the hair colourants she uses. It is truly amazing. I sat there for 40 minutes and my nose wasn’t wiggling from the scents and more importantly my scalp wasn't burning. What a concept!

The end result was that I have beautifully coloured hair that looks really healthy. I’m back to see Joy in December as it will take a few visits to get all the old damaged hair cut off and leave me nothing but shinny health hair – I can’t wait.
One great piece of advice form Joy was if you’re colouring your hair with a chemical free product make sure all the products you use on your hair are chemical free – as the chemicals will strip the colour form the hair.
Interested in a chemical free experience? Give Joy Parker a call - 613-728-4069

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Here's to the Indoors

Now that its fall and we are spending more time indoor's, we have been "nosing" around looking at our everyday items with an inquiring mind. Do they have potential for toxic off-gas (not including family members and dogs!), are they really necessary and is there an viable alternative. Our candles e-bulletin shows that a simple pleasure may have ill effects but that there are many alternatives. So ask yourself some questions - what about the pot you make your soup in or the air freshener used to combat wet boot smell?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics finds LEAD in lipsticks

A leading advocacy group, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, new research found lipstick manufactured in the United States and used daily by millions of American women contain surprisingly high levels of lead. The lead tests were conducted by an independent laboratory over the month of September on red lipsticks bought in Boston, Hartford, Conn., San Francisco and Minneapolis. Top findings include:

  • More than half of 33 brand-name lipsticks tested (61 percent) contained detectable levels of lead, with levels ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm). None of these lipsticks listed lead as an ingredient.
  • One-third of the tested lipsticks exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy – a standard established to protect children from directly ingesting lead. Lipstick products, like candy, are directly ingested into the body.
  • Full report - A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What goes into a natural product?

If you are in the Ottawa area, you can learn how to make your own personal care products or just become more informed about the ingredients used to make products by participating in a workshop at Planet Botanix. Heather is an enthusiastic instructor and very knowledgeable. Checkout the courses and dates at Let us know what you learn.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Pollution Killing up to 25,000 Canadians Annually, Says First Environmental Burden of Disease Study in Canada

Here's the introductory paragraph from a news release by the University of British Columbia:

"Canadians are awash in toxic chemicals -- and it is costing our health care system up to $9.1 billion and 1.5 million hospital days annually, according to a new study led by University of British Columbia Trudeau Scholar David Boyd."

David Boyd identified more than 50 chemicals, a few of which are ones that we will be discussing in the next few months. Of particular note are phthalates that are found in fragrances.

This is another reminder that we need to pay attention to what we are putting in and on our bodies.

Take a look at the Full News Release at:

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pure Prevention

A new campaign from the Breast Cancer Fund aims to raise awareness about the environmental causes of breast cancer and empower us to live actively, healthy and well. Not only is their name inspired (just to note – we had it first!) but they have collated research and strategies for breast cancer prevention into one website. Check it out at


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I run for me.

This month started off with a bang of a run ... the Run for the Cure for Breast Cancer. In our hometown of Ottawa, Ontario over 13,000 people raise funds by running for someone affected by this disease. This was my first large scale event for breast cancer and I felt a bit shy about it. I did not get a group together and call us a cheeky name like “Breast Friends", I did not wear the pink t-shirt that identifies me a survivor and I did not write a name on the race bibs that stated "I am running for ... my mom, my nanny, Susie, etc." I was a bit overwhelmed but shared laughs and a good run/walk with some friends and I realized that I am at this event for me … just me.
Pure Know How

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Still the Mind.

It's true my mind is rarely stilled. At the moment my most relaxing event is a nice hot bath with a mug of hot chocolate. Ah!

We all have our ways to still the mind - share yours and inspire someone to be still.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pre-washed lettuce and chlorine. What's the link?

An interesting article appeared in the Globe and Mail (written by Heidi Sopinka) today letting “us” know that pre-washed lettuce means presoaked in chlorine. “Byproducts of chlorine have been found to be toxic; they accumulate in the body and have been linked to cancer, birth defects and reproductive disorders.”

We just did an e-bulletin on bleach (solution of chlorine) so take a look for more info.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Caffeinated Soap?

There are those who've said to us why worry about what you put on your skin - How will it hurt you?

Well there's a new product on the market that puts caffeine into your system simply by washing with its soap. Its absorbed into the skin and wakes you up.

Can’t say I need to be woken up that drastically.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Despite the fact that my lashes are long and Patti's are short we both include mascara as one of the two most essential cosmetics to wear when leaving our homes. (The other is lipstick!)

We have listed our product reviews on our site. Are there any you have tried? What did you think?

Thanks for sharing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


We've shared a few of our favorite soaps with you, so now it’s your turn. Let your fellow Pure Know Howers know what’s out there, where to get it and how it rates on the cost side.

Thanks for sharing!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We did it! We have a blog!

Today's posting is dedicated to you, subscribers of Pure Know How. We want to say thank you for reading our weekly e-bulletins and thank you in advance for becoming part of our community via this blog.

Pure Blog is a place for you to share your tips, resources, ideas for e-bulletin topics or to provide commentary on all things related to the toxins in our everyday personal care, cosmetic and household products. We also want to hear about Products you use - what did you think, how did they perform, where did you get them, what are the ingredients?

Patti and Tamey
Pure Know How