1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

December 18, 2008

:353 Chemical Info Search

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:353 EcoTip: If you would like to know what health and safety concerns there are for a chemical ingredient in a product – try searching the Household Products Database Health Effects Search.

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The database allows you to search by product name, type of product, manufacturer, ingredient, and health effect.

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July 25, 2008

:207 Septic Health

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:207 EcoTip: Don’t let toxic chemicals including cleaning compounds like non-biodegradable detergents or chlorine bleach into your septic system. If your system does get “poisoned” you may be able to help it back to health by supplementing the bacteria (see EcoTip :206). 

 

 Source: US EPA (1987). It’s Your Choice — A Guidebook for Local Officials on Small Community Wastewater Management Options, p. 40. EPA 430/9-87-006.

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Suggested Review: :203, :204, :205, :206

The Humanure Handbook  written by Joseph Jenkins answer almost everything you ever wanted to know (or need to know) about human manure and returning it to nature. I purchased my first copy almost a decade ago, and still refer to it regularly. According to Joe:

Humans started disposing of “human waste” by defecating into a hole in the ground or an outhouse, then discovered we could float our turds out to the hole using water and never have to leave our shelter. However, one of the unfortunate problems with septic systems is, like outhouses, they pollute our groundwater.

 At the end of the 20th century, there were 22 million septic system sites in the United States, serving one fourth to one third of the U.S. population. They were notorious for leaching contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, nitrates, phosphates, chlorides and organic compounds such as trichloroethylene into the environment. An EPA study of chemicals in septic tanks found toluene, methylene chloride, benzene, chloroform and other volatile synthetic organic compounds related to home chemical use, many of them cancer-causing.3

Between 820 and 1,460 billion gallons of this contaminated water were discharged per year into our shallowest aquifers.4

 In the U.S., septic tanks are reported as a source of ground water contamination more than any other source. Forty-six states cite septic systems as sources of groundwater pollution; nine of these reported them to be the primary source of groundwater contamination in their state.

Toxic chemicals are commonly released into the environment from septic systems because people dump them down their drains. The chemicals are found in pesticides, paint, toilet cleaners, drain cleaners, disinfectants, laundry solvents, antifreeze, rust proofers, septic tank and cesspool cleaners and many other cleaning solutions. In fact over 400,000 gallons of septic tank cleaner liquids containing synthetic organic chemicals were used in one year by the residents of Long Island alone. Furthermore, some toxic chemicals can corrode pipes, therby causing heavy metals to enter septic sustems.7

 You can order the Humanure Handbook or download it for free at http://www.jenkinspublishing.com/humanure_contents.html

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June 23, 2008

:175 Nearby SuperFund Sites

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:175 EcoTip: Scorecard  provides one method for screening for toxic waste sites in your area. Enter your zip-code in their searchable data base for a list of hazard sites and their status. This is also helpful for double checking property disclosures when you are considering moving.

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June 22, 2008

:174 ScoreCard

Filed under: :174 ScoreCard — Tags: , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:13 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:175 EcoTip: ScoreCard is a zip-code based searchable data base for various pollution sites in the United States. Go to Scorecard to see how your area is rated for chemical releases, superfund sites, water quality and many other factors. Over the next several days I will be providing some tips for using the ScoreCard for evaluating building sites.

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May 29, 2008

:150 Formaldehyde

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:150 EcoTip: Formaldehyde is a dangerous chemical that has been shown to cause reactions at very low levels. It has a strong pungent odor and is frequently associated with “new smell”. One example of continuing problems is the recent FEMA fiasco where formaldehyde laced trailer homes were supplied to hurricane Katrina victims.

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The following quote about formaldehyde was written by my co-author Dr. Erica Elliott for our book Prescriptions for a Healthy House: A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders and Homeowners The 3rd edition was released earlier this month.

Indoor formaldehyde is gaining recognition as a severe health hazard for occupants of homes and office buildings where chronic exposure occurs. Several organizations, such as the American Lung Association, have recommended that formaldehyde levels not exceed 0.1 part per million. People who have already become sensitized to formaldehyde will have reactions at levels as low as 0.02 part per million. Approximately 50 percent of the population is exposed on a daily basis in the workplace to levels that exceed the 0.1 part per million limit. Mobile homes are notorious for causing health problems because of the extremely high levels of formaldehyde emitted from the plywood and particleboard used in their construction.

Individuals who develop permanent health problems associated with formaldehyde exposure often relate the onset of their symptoms to a flu-like illness, which is diagnosed as a viral infection. However, the affected individual usually does not totally recover from this so-called flu and is left with general malaise, fatigue, and depression. Other symptoms can include rashes, eye irritation, frequent sore throats, hoarse voice, repeated sinus infections, nasal congestion, chronic cough, chest pains, palpitations, muscle spasms, joint pains, numbness and tingling of the extremities, colitis and other digestive disorders, severe headaches, dizziness, loss of memory, inability to recall words and names, and disorientation. Formaldehyde is an immune system sensitizer, which means that chronic exposure can lead to multiple allergies and sensitivities to substances that are entirely unrelated to formaldehyde.

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