Toulene, Benzene, o-Xylene. Do these sound healthy to breathe? Do you know how much of them in Houston?
Thanks to Air Alliance Houston & Sketch City, you can find out what and when chemicals in your air in almost real time. The most common of which are:
They are gases released in sometimes high levels from chemical plants and refineries. Areas of Houston that are at great risk of exposure are places like Galena Park, Texas City and Channel View.
To tell you a little more about these gases:
Benzene is a light hydrocarbon and a natural component of crude oil. It’s a known human carcinogen with short- and long-term health effects. It is created from cars, trucks, trains, marine vessels, oil refineries, or chemical plants. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Effects Screening Level states that health standards should be less than:
Short term (1 hour): 58 parts per billion (ppb).
Long term (1 year): 1.4 ppb.
Take a look at a very normal release of Benzene from Galena Park in April 2017.
And there are even more chemicals that are being released in high amounts on a regular basis near the Houston area. Here are a few of the most common as well as the toxic effects.
Ethylbenzene is a highly flammable hydrocarbon. 99% of the ethylbenzene produced is used to make styrene, which is in turn used to produce plastics. Ethylbenzene is also used as a solvent and in the production of asphalt, naptha, and fuels. It is created by cars and chemical plants that produce styrene. It’s also used indoors in cleaning products, varnishes, paint, and other commonly used household items.
It’s short term effects include throat irritation and dizziness. High exposure can cause nervous system toxicity, pulmonary effects, and effects on the liver and kidneys.
Toluene is a man-made hydrocarbon derived from benzene. Toluene is the primary odor component in gasoline. It is used in chemical manufacturing and as a solvent. It is produced by cars and emitted by facilities that use it as a feedstock or solvent. These include petrochemical plants, manufacturers of paint and ink, and printers. You can also find them commonly in your home in paints, nail polish and cigarette smoke.
Long term or chronic high level exposure can cause depression of the central nervous system, including drowsiness, ataxia, tremors, cerebral atrophy, nystagmus (involuntary eye movements), and impaired speech, hearing, and vision; in addition to cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Most importantly it can impact the development of a fetus in a pregnant woman.
o-Xylene, along with m- and p-xylene, is one of three isomers of xylene. Xylenes are used in the production of ethylbenzene, as solvents in paints and coatings, and as a gasoline additive.The chemical is emitted by cars, industrial sources, and volatilization of solvents. It’s also found indoors in synthetic fragrances and paints.
The long term side effects to chronic exposure can range from effects on the Central nervous such as headache, dizziness, fatigue, tremors, and lack of coordination; as well as effects on the respiratory, cardiovascular, and kidney. The carcinogenicity is unknown.
Toluene level warning at HRM 3 Haden Rd. 3.33 ppb. Toluene harms the nervous system. For info: https://t.co/PuCiM7M8fl
Take a look at another tweet by the Air Alliance’s Kuukibot and notice the level of ppb of these chemicals being released. On April 1st, Kuukibot released 12 different data points about toxicity level in the Houston air. On March 31st, there were 23 tweets released with different data points.
So what can you do?
Education is always a great first step. Take a look at Air Alliance Houston, a group that puts together data for air quality Houston. They offer free workshops, info online, and a twitter bot that auto tweets all important air quality information in Houston.
Join us in store at New Living for lots of different ways you can improve the health of your home including water purifiers, air purifiers, and healthy mattresses.
We wanted to introduce you to our collaborators HTX Made. HTX Made is a local company that handcrafts the furniture you can shop at New Living in Rice Village.
They are a micro production facility that produces clean socially conscious goods. Housed in the East End, this small company is all about environmental responsibility and stylish design. At New Living, you can find cool and modern bed frames and side tables that can vary from minimal to live edge. In fact, most furniture that you see at New Living is created by locally by HTX Made.
We’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with HTX Made on the Mini Parklet along 19th St. in the Houston Heights. It’s a gorgeous blend of minimal metal work, a beautiful wooden bench, and huge planters full of local Texas plants.
HTX Made has created live edge tasting tables for the J.W. Marriott in downtown Houston. They’ve created commissions for national pop up brand Kit & Ace. You can also find handcrafted chairs at Axelrad in midtown. They have several big commissions from hotels, restaurants, and bars. We can’t wait for you to see their latest creations.
One of the owners, Ben Baron, told us about how HTX Made has grown. He said, “When HTX Made first began, every item was completely unique. Of course every piece of furniture was a thrill but it wasn’t feasible for any business. Now we’ve created a catalog of focused handmade pieces of furniture. All of the finishes and colors are still customizable so each piece can have it’s own unique ant to get away from doing custom work. Now we’re more catalog focused, with customized finished materials.”
Ben Baron also described what inspires the company, “We use resources that are in our own community. We work with people that are in our community, 2nd Ward also known as Greater East End. Most items from HTX Made are local materials that are finished in a natural way. We use beautiful hardwood and we don’t stain in colors that are different than the natural color. We want to display the beauty already in the materials and keep them as natural as possible.
When you make furniture, you automatically consider it’s use and that includes the people that will use it. When people purchase a piece of furniture from us, what they are asking for are roots. Something that reminds them of a specific place and a specific moment. In that way, everything we create is truly special.”
So what’s next for HTX Made?
They are working on several bars, restaurants, and hotels. They are often using reclaimed materials from the building itself to compliment the integrity of the building.
Getting a good night’s sleep is so important to the body, mind, and soul. For most people, it’s easy to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep throughout the night. However, many struggle with falling asleep and resting soundly. Often times it’s difficult to shut off the mind from all the day’s thoughts and stresses and truly get into a restful state necessary for a good night’s sleep. Today I would like to share some of my favorite essential oils for helping to promote peaceful rest and relaxation.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is a common and well known essential oil related to relaxation and sleep and for good reason. Its effectiveness has been confirmed through numerous sleep studies. Lavender is rich in linalool and linalyl acetate. These compounds help with relaxation and when inhaled can have calm, soothing, and sedative effects.
Vetiver Essential Oil
Vetiver is a common oil used for relaxation. With a rich and earthy aroma, it is a helpful tool in alleviating emotional stress, anxiety, and insomnia. A recent study investigated the effects of Vetiver as a means for reducing stress and anxiety and found it to be as useful as Diazepam, a medication for anxiety.
Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile is another well known herb related to sleep and relaxation. Most people are familiar with the benefits of drinking it as a tea, however it is much more effective when using the essential oil. Chamomile has a light and floral scent that is very appealing to the senses. The oil is used as a method to calm nerves and reduce anxiety. This is a powerful oil for those moments when you just can’t seem to shut off your brain and rest.
Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot is a citrus oil with a sweet and fruity aroma. Most know bergamot as the oil used in Earl Grey tea, giving it its distinct citrus flavor. Similar to lavender, bergamot also contains compounds of linalool and linalyl acetate used to promote peace and relaxation. Bergamot is a powerful tool in creating emotional balance as it can stimulate hormones such as dopamine and serotonin and promote feelings of sedation and calm.
Valerian Essential Oil
Valerian is probably one of the most well known and natural sleep aids. Valerian has been shown to calm anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help improve stress levels. It is incredibly effective at helping the body and mind rest, fall asleep and stay asleep. The oil helps the body coordinate an ideal release of hormones promoting the natural sleep cycle. For this reason it has been used since ancient times as a helpful sleep aid.
Marjoram Essential Oil
While mostly thought of as a cooking spice, marjoram is also a powerful tool in promoting sleep. It creates a calm and sedative effect on the mind and body. It also helps to reduce nervous stress and anxiety. This is helpful when there is a specific trigger keeping you from sleeping like a presentation due at the office or a problem weighing heavily on your mind.
Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood has a warm and woodsy smell which is calming to the senses. It also helps to stimulate serotonin which the brain then converts to melatonin – the hormone necessary for sleep. The oil is very good at soothing the mind and helping to promote restorative sleep.
Essential Oils for Promoting Sleep
Applying oils topically is a wonderful way to experience their benefits. Usually I rub oils on the back of my neck, or to the bottom of my feet for the best effect. Keep in mind that some oils are too harsh to be applied directly to the skin so some kind of carrier oil should be used. Sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and coconut oil are good options. An essential oil diffuser is another wonderful way to use oils. Place a few drops of oil or a blend of some of the oils mentioned above with water and allow the scent to diffuse into the entire room. Another benefit of a diffuser is that it acts like a humidifier as it delivers a cool mist into the room.
Some oils can be taken internally such as lavender and bergamot. You can blend a few drops into a warm herbal tea in the evening before you go to bed to help promote a good night’s rest.
Another option for using the essential oils mentioned above is by adding them to a warm bath. A bath helps relax the mind and muscles and prepares you for a restful night. Just place a few drops of oil in the tub and soak for several minutes. Author Bio Sally Wong has been a manual therapist for over 15 years. Her grandmother first introduced her to the healing properties of essential oils and she continues to learn from her when she visits China twice a year. Sally believes strongly in the healing properties that oils can provide. Follow her on her blog.
At New Living, we are all about good quality sleep. One of our favorite ways to relax and unwind at the end of the day is Yoga Nidra – the yoga of sleep.
Here are some of our favorite youtube videos for at home yoga nidra for better sleep.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is all about effortless relaxation. Some yogis describe it as the conscious state between waking and sleeping. The goal is for the body to be completely relaxed and the body and to gain awareness and consciousness during the sleep cycle. It’s a way to feel in control during sleep and is considered really helpful for troubled sleepers. We’re daydreaming right now how luxurious this will feel on an organic mattress.
Yoga Nidra is often found in the form of guided meditations and you can find lots of different recordings that are about systematically relaxing the body and relaxing the mind. If you are just starting out with Yoga Nidra find a guided meditation that you really like. When you find the right soothing voice, the right length of meditation, and the right vibe stick with it.
Most practitioners prefer to repeat the same set right as you are falling asleep and again when you are waking up. The goal is for the mediation to soak in. Repeating it and allowing yourself to almost memorize it creates a muscle memory that can help you relax more over time.
What Do We Love about this Yoga Nidra Set?
First of all, the scenery is gorgeous. The pacing is relaxing and the meditation set moves slowly and calmly. The way that Yoga Nidra is described is fabulous because Alex the teacher uses easy to understand words without a lot of yoga jargon. That makes this set perfect for beginners.
What Do We Love about this Yoga Nidra Set?
This teacher’s voice is so soothing! It’s clear from the beginning that this yoga instructor is quite experienced. Hopefully, this will leave you feeling like you are in good hands.
What Do We Love about this Yoga Nidra Set?
This yoga nidra set is only 13 minutes long which is perfect to not feel overwhelmed. It’s a perfect length of time for anyone that has a busy morning and couldn’t dream of a longer set when they wake up.
Hope these yoga sets help you find better ways to sleep easy. Stop by either of our stores for a little organic nap of your own or to learn more about sleeping healthy.
Permeate your life with natural dyes and images of the west.
A beautiful and modest 50’s-inspired modern lounge chair and sofa pair that brings nature home. Built with organic, plant-based organic GOLS Certified (Global Organic Latex Standard) latex from the cured sap of a rubber trees, and wrapped in organic wool and cotton canvas, this furniture is completely free of chemical flame retardants, VOCs and any synthetic polymers. The frame is hand-crafted by artisans with formaldehyde-free Europly as a base, and can be upgraded to solid, sustainably harvested wood as well. The wool is naturally resistant to flames, bed bugs and dust mites. Natural latex and wool also are way cooler in temperature than traditional synthetic foam. Each piece is made in our workshop in the heart of Houston’s East End. Produced in small batches, you have the option to choose raw europly, or have a print imbedded onto the wood from our visual artist, Melissa Eason’s West Texas photo shoot. You can go with our our natural indigo canvas or natural marigold (both coming soon) produced by our friend Sendeka using an ancient method for hand-dyeing with natural dyes.
Inspired the iconic Acapulco Chair, the Rest and Rec Lounge chair unifies tradition with innovation and harmonizes the function of ergonomic comfort with a retro-modern form. The upholstered seat cradles the body within its clean lines and the flexible yet durable leather is water resistant and easy to clean.
Every aspect of production is done locally right here in Houston: from the design to the steel frame formed and welded by our micro-production shop, to the artisan upholstered seat, this is a real beauty. Although this first prototype was made with responsibly sourced US leather, we likely won’t be doing that again, we’ll be rolling it out officially with hand-dyed natural canvas. See store for details, or just to kick back and read a Zine from 30 Magazines at our Heights store.
H A P P Y H O U R A T N E W L I V I N G with Dr. MaltzNew Living is excited to announce that our friend Dr. Ashley Maltz will be in town for a Happy Hour at New Living this Thursday, April 14th at 6:30pm to host a conversation that could change the way you think about the beauty and personal skin care industry. Her medical background bridges traditional medicine with a preventative, integrative practice that we hope will inspire you to to take a safer, more holistic approach to your personal care.
Colorhouse is committed to making the world more colorful and less volatile by creating products that are safer for your home and better for our planet. Their palette of 128 harmonious crafted colors makes choosing simple.
Colorhouse Inspired interior paints are low-odor, have superior coverage and durability, and are 100% acrylic. All paints are available in 3 sheens: Flat, Eggshell, and Semi-Gloss. All colors are ALSO available in chalkboard paint! Colorhouse paints contain NO VOCs (volatile organic compounds), NO toxic fumes/HAPs-free, NO reproductive toxins, and NO chemical solvents.
Drop by either store and choose your color from this beautifully curated line of paints. Place your order with us and your paint will arrive within 4 to 7 business days. See you soon. 🙂