Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Is xylene harmful?

Are you wondering what is in your whiteboard markers that gives that pungent smell? Are you wondering why you or those in the room with you feel unwell when there has been lots of writing on the whiteboard? Headaches, breathing difficulties, and brain fog are a few of the common symptoms associated with the use of regular whiteboard markers, even the ones labeled 'Conforms to AP Non-Toxic'. A common ingredient in many whiteboard markers is the solvent, xylene. Breathing in the vapors of xylene, even trace amounts, can leave many people feeling unwell.

Here's a look at the properties and health risks associated with the chemical xylene:
What is xylene?
  • Xylene is primarily a synthetic chemical produced from petroleum and coal tar.
  • Xylene is one of the top 30 chemicals produced in the United States in terms of volume.
  • It is used as a solvent in the printing, rubber, and leather industries.
  • You may come in contact with xylene from including cigarette smoke, gasoline, paint, varnish, shellac, rust preventives, and markers. Breathing vapors from these types of products can expose you to xylene.
  • Xylene is rapidly absorbed by your lungs after you breathe air containing it, and then passes into the blood soon after entering the body.
  • Indoor levels of xylene can be higher than outdoor levels, especially in buildings with poor ventilation.
  • Xylene stays in the air for several days until it is broken down by sunlight into other less harmful chemicals.
Exposure to xylene:
  • Short-term exposure of people to high levels of xylene can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat; difficulty in breathing; impaired function of the lungs; delayed response to a visual stimulus; impaired memory; stomach discomfort; and possible changes in the liver and kidneys.
  • Both short- and long-term exposure to high concentrations of xylene can also cause a number of effects on the nervous system, such as headaches, lack of muscle coordination, dizziness, confusion, and changes in one's sense of balance.
  • Long-term exposure of animals to low concentrations of xylene has not been well studied.
  • Both the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and EPA have found that there is insufficient information to determine whether or not xylene is carcinogenic.
  • Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of xylene may cause harmful effects to the fetus.
  • The higher the exposure and the longer the exposure to xylene, the greater the chance of harmful health effects. Lower concentrations of xylene are not as harmful.

EcoSmart Products is proud to offer a certified non-toxic alternative to regular whiteboard markers. AusPen Eco-Friendly Markers contain no xylene, and have virtually no odor. Made of a de-natured alcohol, AusPen markers are helping whiteboard users finally clear the air.

Information for this article was obtained from this fact sheet from eco-usa.net.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Q: Non toxic markers. Is there such a thing, and does it really matter anyway? A: Yes, there truly are non-toxic markers that do not use harmful solvents in the ink. Xylene and toluene are two common ingredients in dry-erase markers - it's what gives the strong, pungent odor. These are neurotoxins that can cause troubling symptoms such as headaches, asthma, brain fog and fatigue. A non-toxic marker is not made with any neurotoxins, nor does it have a strong odor. AusPen markers are certified non-toxic, and are quickly becoming the marker of choice among teachers and other dry-erase marker users. Even people with chemical sensitivities are able to use AusPen markers without their usual reactions to dry-erase markers. Here's what one parent had to say about using AusPen non-toxic dry-erase markers:
“When our daughter was unable to stay in her Grade 7 classroom because smelly white board markers gave her horrible “brain fog”, the school secretary ordered AusPens. Happily, Katie has never left a classroom again because of brain fog thanks to AusPens. She now has her own AusPens for those who don’t know there is a healthy alternative to the toxic, smelly other white board markers.” (Judy Wigmore, parent)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Saving money with refillable whiteboard markers

Thousands of educators, office workers and organizations that use whiteboard markers are saving money with refillable markers.

When customers contact EcoSmart Products to re-order dry-erase ink or new nibs for their refillable whiteboard markers, many of them say they have been using the same markers for years. When I asked a teacher recently if she was a new customer, she laughed and said she's been using the same markers for 3 years. Her order? A few bottles of refill ink ($7.95 each) and a pack of new tips for her markers ($12.50 for 10 double-tipped nibs). When we finished the order and said goodbye, I think she really meant it!

While AusPen markers are comparable in cost to regular disposable markers (Expo brand, etc), a purchase of these refillable markers means no more marker purchase. The cost of refilling the markers is significantly less expensive than constantly purchasing new markers. The AusPen marker and bottle of refill ink system costs approximately 29 cents per marker - saving about 75% off the price of regular disposable markers.

Imagine spending 75% less on your market budget at your workplace? Refillable markers make good money sense. No longer just an innovative product for those going green, refillable whiteboard markers help you keep your green!

To find out more about refillable whiteboard markers, and to place an order, visit http://www.ecosmartworld.com

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Case for Eco-Friendly Dry-Erase Markers

The way we see it at EcoSmart Products, there are at least 3 major problems with regular dry-erase markers.

First, the moment a marker is uncapped, noxious smells and harmful toxins are released. Xylene? Toluene? Why are we using neurotoxins in our office supplies? (Headaches and brain fog, anyone?)

Second, the amount of waste associated with discarded single-use dry-erase markers is astounding. Since these markers are not recyclable, they are sent to their local landfill where they will stay for a very looong time.

Finally, the markers are always running out, which leads us to our third pain point: the expense.

Now here’s a look at AusPen eco-friendly markers. They are made of 100% post-consumer recycled materials, the ink is certified non-toxic, and they are refillable. When a marker starts to fade, a few drops of ink can be added into the marker barrel and it’s as good as new. By refilling your markers, AusPens are approximately 75% less expensive than disposable markers.
Fill your pen, not your landfill
Find out more about why thousands of people who use dry-erase markers have switched to AusPen eco-friendly markers: http://www.ecosmartworld.com

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dry-erase markers that protect your health

I used to love when the teacher picked me to stay in at recess to slap the chalkboard brushes together to clean them. To my delight, billows of chalk would fill the air.

But now environmental and health concerns over chalk (it's resource-intensive and can cause allergies and breathing problems), not to mention the mess, have led to the cleaner, healthier whiteboard and dry-erase markers.

But are dry-erase markers healthier? More environmental?

Some of the more toxic dry-erase markers contain the chemicals xylene or toluene. These chemicals are classified neurotoxins, as they affect brain functioning. They can cause headaches, dizziness, irritation of the nose or throat, lack of coordination, 'brain fog' and breathing difficulties.

In response to the outcry over harmful chemicals in dry-erase markers, many marker companies have developed markers labelled, 'AP Non-Toxic'.

Why is it then, that at EcoSmart Products we receive calls on a daily basis from people complaining about these 'non-toxic' markers? People are still experiencing headaches, skin reactions, brain fog and even temper tantrums, not to mention the turnoff of the nasty smell. (Sound familiar?)

Then there's also the environmental blight of the 500 million dry-erase markers thrown out annually by teachers in North America. These markers are rarely made of recycled plastic, nor are they ever biodegradable.

That's why an educator in Australia developed AusPen eco-friendly markers - dry-erase markers that are made of 90% post-consumer recycled materials, whose ink is truly non-toxic and that can be refilled. Over and over again. No landfills required.

Thinking about it, I miss the fun of slapping the chalk erasers hard enough to get a white dusting of chalk in my hair and eyebrows. It was a much more fun way of experiencing gray hair.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Non-Toxic Markers and Whiteboard Paint

A great idea from this mom who painted a whiteboard wall and stocked her son with AusPen non-toxic, refillable markers. What better way to keep toxins out of the home and discarded markers and whiteboards out of the landfill.