Posted by kevvyg on Friday, September 27, 2013
One of my favorite parts of my home is my bed. I'm very keen on my pillows, sheets and comforters (because they're what help me get all of my beauty sleep!). However I'm well aware that my bedding was likely made with pesticides, chemical treatments ("wrinkle free" or "stain resistant"), dyes and flame retardants. Though things as regular as bedding do not affect me or my health, for someone with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) or very sensitive skin, the residue of these Raw Cottonchemicals can make sleep a real struggle.

For many with MCS, being particular about bedding isn't an option, it's a necessity. Most bedding is not organic and can irritate sensitive skin, causing allergic reactions, dermatitis, itching, swelling or worse. All of these things can leave you feeling tired instead of refreshed and reenergized in the mornings.

Though most are familiar with organic food, what's the deal with - organic - cotton? Merriam Webster defines organic as "of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides". So now let's take a look at cotton.

Cotton, a fibrous plant of the Gossypium genus is akin to okra and cacao and has been internationally domesticated for centuries, from Australia to Alabama. However, organic commercial cotton production has been on the rise for the past decade. Unlike the majority of cotton currently grown in the U.S., organic commercial cotton is not genetically modified. It is also grown in an organic environment meaning it is often manually cultivated, grown in organic soil, and not treated with fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

Luckily, offers a variety of bedding made from 100% certified organic cotton to help make your bed as heavenly (and healthy!) as possible:
  • Allergy Armor Organic Cotton BlanketsAllergy Armor Organic Cotton Sheets - GOTS certified, these 300 TC sheets are soft and comfortable. Lacking chemical finishers and dyes, you can find sheets for any size bed in basic, cream or white colors, which match any bedding.
  • Allergy Armor Organic Cotton Blankets - We are proud to say these blankets are cut, sewn, and packed right here in our Atlanta location. They are soft and lightweight yet warm, making a great layer for your bed, anytime of the year. Available in 2 weights, 100 and 120, each blanket is constructed from USDA certified organic cotton. Choose from either the crepe weave, which has a small tighter pattern, or the waffle weave which fluffs out to a thick and luxurious pattern after the first wash and dry. You can also select from four sizes (we even have blankets for the little ones!).
  • Allergy Armor Organic Allergy Covers - In Stock and With a New DesignAllergy Armor Organic Bedding Covers - Although we have not begun making our own organic pillows, we do have organic pillow and mattress covers, perfect for those coping with dust mite allergies as well as MCS and eczema. These covers have no finishes or coatings, and have an average pore size of less than 5 microns. Just slip these covers on your favorite pillow and mattress, then apply your organic sheets or pillowcases, and you're all set!
After spending some time upstairs enjoying the soft textures of our Allergy Armor products, I'm going to invest in some good quality blankets and sheets too! Sweet dreams!

For more information on the GOTS Certification behind our organic cotton sheets and the GOTS certified fabric for our mattress and pillow covers.

Author: Rachel Power

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Allergy Armor Organic Bedding CoverOrganic fabric isn't the easiest material to come by, and as a manufacturer, we are constantly on the lookout for better raw materials. Despite enormous initial success, literally selling out of our organic barrier fabric after only a couple months, we took some time off before obtaining more material. During our break, we made a couple improvements, and will very soon be offering an even better product at the same price. So what did we improve, and how can it help you?

Since bringing the manufacturing of Allergy Armor Organic dust mite covers in-house, we looked at a few different options when it comes to raw cotton fabric. Now we are proud to introduce a redesigned and upgraded product. First, we actually reduced the average pore size our Allergy Armor Organic. Instead of 6 microns, we've managed to drop that down to just over 4. What does this mean for you? The smaller the average pore size, the more effectively, the covers can block allergens like dust mites, dander, and pollen, which means a better night's sleep for you, and fewer mornings waking up with congestion, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, or sinus pressure. This is one of the best, if not the best, available today.

The second thing we looked to improve was with the design of your covers. Unlike our basic design, we've integrated a new feature with our covers. The organic pillow covers now have an offset zipper with a sewn over flap. Once zipped up, the flap hides the zipper and slide. This gives the cover a more streamlined look and feel, more like a pillow without a cover at all. This same fabric zipper cover is also now integrated into the design of our organic mattress covers.

Allergy Armor Organic Allergy Covers are Made From GOTS Certified Organic CottonSome of the things that stayed the same? You still get quality mattress and pillow covers, made right here in the U.S. Unlike our competitors, our fabric is certified organic by the leading international organic certification agency, GOTS (Global Organic Trade Standard). The cotton is certified to be free of chemical finishers, flame retardants, dyes, harsh bleaching agents, and fertilizer/pesticide/insecticide residues. This makes our fabric a great solution for those with chemical sensitivities, eczema or sensitive skin and allergies or asthma.

We expect to begin making your new organic mattress, pillow and duvet covers in just a couple short weeks. Pre-ordering ensures that your organic allergy bedding will be made and shipped as soon as our raw fabric arrives. You can place pre-orders now, or wait until they are officially back in stock.
*NOTE: The color is now a natural cream/beige, not the older style white color. New product images coming soon!

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by Rachel on Friday, August 23, 2013
Organic Cotton for Personal Care ProductsEvery month we ladies must deal with a natural inconvenience. Luckily we have an array of products to choose from to help us with this time of the month. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to many of these products, particularly for those with chemical sensitivities. But, for women looking for an alternative to disposable sanitary napkins and tampons, there are a few options to help.

What goes into these commonly used products can sometimes have unintended consequences. Often, layers of cellulose and super absorbent polymer powder (SAPs) are the main substances used to make sanitary napkins. Cellulose comes from plant material, while the polymers are chemically derived from petroleum or wheat, and both are quite absorbent. Tampons are made from bleached cotton, rayon or a blend of the two that have been processed with a variety of ingredients such as chlorine, fragrances and super absorbent chemicals. Chlorine bleaching releases a byproduct called dioxin. Dioxins is a broad name given to large group of chemicals, but according to the World Health Organization, dioxins are absorbed by fat tissue, which can cause reproductive problems and interfere with hormones.

Along with allergic reactions, and byproduct hazards, is possible exposure to bacterial infections in a very sensitive area! Alternative Feminine Products - Diva CupA risk carried with the use of tampons is contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), an uncommon but detrimental condition that can occur if tampons have a high absorbency rate and left in for extended periods of time.

So what are the alternatives? A plethora of options can be found online, but here are some that can often be found in local pharmacies, supermarkets and grocery stores.
  • Organic Products - Some products are made from 100% organic cotton, and are pH compatible, hypoallergenic, free from SAPs, and chlorine bleaching. Other products maybe derived from wheat but free from chlorine dyes and fragrances.
  • Menstrual Cups - These alternatives often save money, and minimize waste all at once. Made from silicone, which is biocompatible with the body, these are great alternatives to bleached cotton and rayon. They can also be used for any activity from yoga to swimming. Like similar products, change 3-4 times a day and wash by hand. Avoid cups made in China, which are not FDA approved, and look for ones made in Canada or Finland.
  • Cloth Pads - If you’re the crafty type, you can easily make reusable panty liners, with colorful cotton cloth. If not, you can find sites online that will have a variety of sizes and colors, and will fit any style underwear. Cloth pads can also be made from organic cotton and naturally dyed.
Organic Cotton Feminine ProductsSome of these options may seem a little out of the ordinary or expensive. But the cost-benefit ratio of going the extra step to care for your body, and that very sensitive organ, is well worth it. Many are turning to these alternatives and are content with this slight change in lifestyle for the sake of allergic or chemical reactions.

Author: Rachel Power

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Be Careful When Choosing Your Pet ProductsAs a dog owner, keeping my dog clean and free of ticks and fleas can sometimes seem like a real chore. Over the years I have tried a few different methods in controlling fleas and ticks. Though I never used a flea collar, I have tried the shampoos and the treatments that you apply down the back of the dog. A few years ago, I stopped using both of these things, particularly after actually reading up on some of the chemicals that these products contain, mainly insecticides. (Though when a bottle of shampoo has to have a disclaimer about being toxic to aquatic life, I should have taken that as a bad sign.) Beyond potential issues with your pet's health, they can also have an adverse effect on some people.

The active ingredient in most modern tick and flea shampoos is commonly a pyrethroid, a class of organic compounds related to natural pyrethrins found in some flowers. Most household insecticides stem from this class of chemicals. The problem with many of these is that, quiet bluntly, they are toxic. Most have labels that state as much, particularly with regard to animals and aquatic life. Pyrethroids are considered safe for vertebrates since they have the enzymes and biology in place to break down these chemicals in fairly short order.

Except for cats... Ostensibly, dogs and humans can break down these insecticides in the liver in kidneys without long term effects. Because cats cannot breakdown a common pyrethroid used in flea and tick treatments, phenothrin was pulled by most manufacturers in 2006. Adverse reactions ranging from tremors and hair loss to salivation and death were reported when used with cats.

Cats notwithstanding, most pets and humans are fairly safe when using products that contain pyrethrins. Be even if these products are relatively safe for use around humans and dogs, there are still other compounds found in these can produce adverse reactions in people and pets alike.

D-Limonene (smells like oranges and sound innocuous enough, right?) is assumed to be the culprit in a case where a Pomeranian in Washington recently suffered a severe allergic reaction. The family pet developed edema throughout her body but ultimately recovered. Limonene is also used as a solvent in cleaners, air fresheners, and even glues. While D-Limonene is used commonly used in cosmetics and as an insecticide, the FDA recommends against using this hydrocarbon on cats or dogs, and some with sensitivities may develop contact dermatitis or a general sensitivity to the compound.

In another instance where chemicals in flea and tick repellents more directly impacted a person, a pet shampoo distributed by Sogeval Laboratories, Inc., with an ingredient, phytosphingosine, was associated with the death of one woman who was bathing her dog with the product. An acute asthma attack was the cause of death, and just a few days later, another asthmatic family member suffered a mild asthma attack while bathing the pet with the same product. The belief is that the particular substances used in that formulation of pet shampoo triggered the two asthma attacks in the individuals involved.

This is not to say that all pet shampoos are going to cause problem for you or your pets, but what it does highlight is two things. First, read labels. If there's something you're unfamiliar with, look for a known alternative. When you do come across an unknown compound, check online for the MSDS sheet or visit the manufacturer's website to get as much information as you can. You can then search for these compounds to find out more about them and potential hazards. This may seem like a lot, but it literally takes 10-20 minutes of searching online. Second, some ingredients in flea and tick treatments, as well as cosmetics, cleaners, and other household products, can react differently with different people (particularly those who have an existing allergic or asthmatic condition and those who have shown a sensitivity to chemicals that don't affect most others).

As a side note, for fleas and ticks, I use the Ecology Works pet shampoo. Personally, I like the smell, it lathers well, and I've yet to find a flea or tick on my dog (despite my roommates dog having fleas a couple times since we have lived together.

Author: Kevin G.

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, July 17, 2012
FDA Bans BPA in Baby BottlesThe Food and Drug Administration has officially banned the use of bisphenol A in children's sippy cups and infants bottles. Though at first glance the news may seem positive, a look closer reveals lingering problems with the FDA ruling and use of BPA in food packaging materials.

Linked to the potential health problems, BPA was labeled an "endrocrine-disrupting agent" last year by the American Medical Association. In recent years, public outcry over the use of BPA in children's bottles and sippy cups had prompted the pro-chemical group, The American Chemistry Council, to publicly push for the ban in 2011. As a spokesperson for the ACC explained, the use of BPA in children's cups and bottles, "had become an unnecessary distraction to consumers." For the chemical industry, this ruling will hopefully put consumer's minds at ease over the safety of plastic sippy cups and bottles.

For environmentalists and those who are calling for a full ban on BPA, their time will have to wait. Earlier this year the FDA denied a petition by the National Resource Defense Council calling for an outright ban on the use of BPA. In response to that petition, the FDA reaffirmed its stance that BPA is essentially safe for humans and that previous reports of exposure have been overstated. Citing a lack of enough solid evidence, the FDA upheld the use of BPA in food packaging and containers.

While research regarding potential long term health issues over the exposure to BPA continues, production of the product does not. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 2.4 billion pounds of BPA was produced in 2007. With consumption of BPA containing product increasing worldwide, researchers may have trouble finding study participants who have NOT been exposed to BPA.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Tags: MCS, BPA
Posted by kevvyg on Saturday, May 26, 2012
Ogallala Hypodown BeddingFor those who were or are thinking about adding Ogallala custom pillows or comforters to your current bedding set, now is the time to act. In less than a week prices are going up. Due to and increase in the price of raw goods, prices on Ogallala's hypoallergenic pillows and comforters is going up by an average of 20%. Shop now to take advantage of pricing before the increase!

Ogallala pillows are some of the most luxurious pillows available today. Filled with their patented Hypodown, these pillows provide all of the feel and comfort of down without any of the allergic reactions. Ogallala pillows are guaranteed to NOT cause you an allergic reaction for up to TEN YEARS. No other pillow makes that kind of claim, and no brand other than Ogallala can provide these kinds of custom allergy-free pillows.

Similar to the pillows, Ogallala blankets are filled with the patented blend of down and Syriaca clusters. Customized to the size, fill power and design you want, each Ogallala hypoallergenic comforter is crafted to provide you comfort and warmth all year round. Aside from pillows and comforters you can also soften your mattress when you sink in to a fluffy down mattress pad

So whether you are looking to replace a worn, old down pillow or add a new favorite comforter to your bedding, take advantage of Ogallala pricing before the June 1st increase and start sleeping better today!

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, May 24, 2012
With Technical Bulletin 117 in 1975, California became the first state to pass legislation that required flame retardants to be a part of the sofas. From there, the law spread to encompass nearly all home furnishings that included foam, like mattresses, love seats, chair, and even tents. The provision outlines that home furnishing and items such as these must be able to withstand an open flame for 12 seconds. As the years have passed and research has shed light on the chemical flame retardants used and their impact on health, what once seemed like a universal positive now casts a different shadow.

Multiple times bills have been drafted in the California legislature - each seeking to repeal the 1975 provision. Each time the bill has failed, arguably due to heavy lobbying efforts by the chemical industry. But why has California changed course? Why is there now a push to remove the flame retardants that were once thought to protect against house fires? To answer these questions, we need to look back at the original law, why it came about and what research since that time has shown us.

Consumer safety is at the heart of fire retardant use mandate. Testimony of accounts where home furnishings were accidentally set ablaze was one original driving factor. Yet contrary to this push, the law requires that for most products, only the foam must be fire retardant. So for many home furnishings, the exterior fabric, the logical point where a fire could possibly start often requires no special coatings or treatments, and items like mattresses, require a prescription from a doctor before a mattress without flame retardants can be sold or constructed. And to play devil’s advocate, how many times have you seen a house fire where the mattress or couch was all that remained?

Research into the health effects of the chemical flame retardants used has shown that exposure to many of the chemicals used have serious health consequences, including birth defects and increased rates of cancer. Chlorinated flame retardants are common, and substances that were originally grandfathered in, like many brominated fire retardants, have since been scrapped but testing of replacement chemicals and their long term health effects is slow in coming.

Statistics show that there has been a reduction in the number of fires that have started in homes, but physicians groups and others point to an overall decrease in smoking, the use of fire-safe cigarettes (FSC) and increased use of sprinklers and smoke detectors as the cause - not chemical flame retardants. To this point, one could still argue, as many politicians and lobbyists do, that the research behind the decrease the number of fires isn’t conclusive on this point.

For those who suffer from MCS or sick-building syndrome, the nearly 2 pounds of chemical flame retardants that can be found in modern home furnishings can be a continual source of aggravation and recurring reactions. As the public becomes more aware of what is in the products we have in our home, you see a push by many industries to lower the chemical content - take VOC's in paint as a recent example.

The latest iteration of the bill to provide choice when it comes to home furnishings with flame retardants has the support of doctors, firefighters and consumer safety advocates. Because California represents the fifth largest economy in the world, a change in the California law would likely cause a change in production of home furnishings across the Canada and the US. As of now, there is no choice, but should a repeal or amendment pass, which would you choose?


Tags: MCS, VOC's
Posted by Shifrah on Friday, March 04, 2011
My family and friends know that I write for an allergy relief company, so I'm often asked for advice about which products to buy or about allergies in general. This week, my mother asked me why her eyes were itching. She doesn't typically have allergies, but she noticed that after doing professional organizing for a certain client of hers, she often comes home with smarting eyes.

At first I thought it was just a reaction to dust, but this time she had an additional piece of information. My mother had noticed that her eyes seemed really bothered after filing paper that had either been photocopied or was NCR paper. This is carbonless carbon paper; NCR stands for "no carbon required."

I was fascinated. I knew that printer cartridges could contaminate indoor air. As described in our learning center article, How small is a micron and why does it matter?, particles from laser printers and copiers are actually among the most dangerous indoor air pollutants:

The size of a given particle helps to determine the degree of potential threat to human health. Particles ranging from .3 to .9 micron present the greatest health concern.

These irritating mid-range particles include … particles from laser printers and copiers. Particles in this size range (.3 to .9 micron) are small enough to get past the tiny hairs that line our breathing passages and too large to be easily exhaled.

Because mid-range particles are more likely to become lodged in lung tissue, they are suspect in a wide range of health problems related to indoor air pollution--from headaches and dizziness to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
So these particles might be part of the source of irritation. Personal air purifiers are excellent for situations such as this. A mask might also help, but it would be a lot less comfortable. And if itching eyes were the result of one person's relatively minor exposure to photocopy particles, imagine how compounded the effect is for those who work in offices packed with cubicles, multiple printers, photocopiers, co-workers with perfume, off-gassing carpet, etc.

Another thought I had, in relation to the carbonless copy paper my mom was handling, is that the connection between BPA and allergies, as discussed in BPA, Allergies, and Asthma might be at play here. Here's why: As The Soft Landing blog points out in Can BPA Be Absorbed Through the Skin?, "BPA on a receipt is 250 to 1,000 times greater than the amount of BPA typically found in a can of food or a can of baby formula." Most receipts use the same paper that's found in carbonless copy paper, so the same should apply to NCR paper.'s article Concerned About BPA: Check Your Receipts corroborates the point. Organic chemist John C. Warner says, "The average cash register receipt that's out there and uses the BPA technology will have 60 to 100 milligrams of free BPA.” clarifies, "By free, he explains, it’s not bound into a polymer, like the BPA in polycarbonates. It’s just the individual molecules loose and ready for uptake." Uptake, as in absorption through the skin. I wonder if BPA in this case can also be airborne.

What to do about this exposure, especially since it's difficult to avoid receipts? The Soft Landing offers the following tips:

  • Minimize receipt collection by declining receipts at gas pumps, ATMs and other machines when possible.

  • Store receipts separately in an envelope in a wallet or purse.

  • Never give a child a receipt to hold or play with.

  • After handling a receipt, wash hands before preparing and eating food (a universally recommended practice even for those who have not handled receipts).

  • Do not use alcohol-based hand cleaners after handling receipts. A recent study showed that these products can increase the skin’s BPA absorption (Biedermann 2010).

  • Take advantage of store services that email or archive paperless purchase records.

  • Do not recycle receipts and other thermal paper. BPA residues from receipts will contaminate recycled paper.

  • If you are unsure, check whether paper is thermally treated by rubbing it with a coin. Thermal paper discolors with the friction; conventional paper does not.
Since BPA is absorbed through the skin, it might also be a good idea for cashiers and others who handle a lot of receipts – or other carbonless paper – to wear gloves while they work. The Environmental Protection Agency is concerned enough about this matter of BPA exposure through receipts that it put out an article on the topic, BPA Alternatives in Thermal Paper Partnership.

We hope as awareness of these toxins and how we are exposed to them grows that more and more sources of allergy triggers will be addressed. As always, we will stay abreast of news in the topic and pass it along to you.

Tags: Masks, MCS, IAQ
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