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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 Additional Information:

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

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December 16, 2008

:351 Household Products Database

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.

1:5:10:351 EcoTip: The National Institute of Health US Department of Health and Human Services has published a Household Products Database that provides information about the many health and safety hazards associated with household products. It can be found on the web at: http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/index.htm

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October 3, 2008

:277 GFIC

Filed under: :277 GFIC — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 6:12 am

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

1:5:10:277 EcoTip: Ground Fault Interrupter Circuits are a from of electrical protection that can provide extra protection beyond that of the circuit breaker.

Everyone should be familiar with the GFICs that are required by code for protecting rooms with water like bathrooms, laundries, and kitchens. It also makes sense to use a GFIC protected extension cord when using electric trimmers, lawn mowers or power tools.

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Suggested Review:

The following is from the Consumer Product Safety Commission website:

The U S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends the use of a ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) with every power tool to protect against electrical shock hazards. Each year, CPSC learns of approximately 20 to 30 electrocution deaths associated with power drills, saws, sanders, hedge trimmers, and other electric power tools. Most of these deaths could be prevented by the use of a GFCI.

A GFCI constantly monitors current flowing in a circuit to sense any loss of current. If the current flowing through two circuit conductors differs by a very small amount, the GFCI instantly interrupts the current flow to prevent a lethal amount of electricity from reaching the consumer. The consumer may feet a painful shock but will not be electrocuted. Grounding may provide some protection for power equipment and double insulation of newer power tools presents lower risks of electrocution. However, GFCls are the most effective means for protecting consumers against electrical shock hazards.

Since 1973, homes built according to the National Electrical Code have varying degrees of GFCI protection. GFCIs were first required in outdoor receptacle circuits In 1973, bathrooms in 1975, garage wall outlets in 1978, some kitchen receptacles since 1987, and all receptacle outlets in unfinished basements and crawl spaces since 1990.

Three common types of GFCls are available for home use: circuit breaker, receptacle and portable types. The circuit breaker type needs to be installed by an electrician. The receptacle type may be installed by knowledgeable consumers familiar with electrical wiring practices. The portable GFCI needs no special knowledge to install Just plug the portable GFCI Into a wall receptacle and then plug the electric power tool into the GFCI. It is generally priced below $30 and is available at hardware stores, building supply centers and electrical supply houses.

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September 16, 2008

:260 Flood Contamination

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

1:5:10:260 EcoTip: When catastrophic disasters such as hurricanes Katrina and Ike hit – there are frequently not enough professional resources available to help. This means people need to become knowledgeable in safely and effectively managing their own recovery.

In my book Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Buildings From Climate Change  I discuss ways to recognize potential problems and protect your home – but once disaster has struck information published by the Red Cross is a very good primer. 

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Suggested Review: :256, :257, :258, :259

This is the fifth in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

The Red Cross has posted an excellent booklet for flood recovery. It contains a lot of helpful information. You can view it at http://www.redcross.org/static/file_cont333_lang0_150.pdf

Here’s an excerpt about basements that get flooded:

If your basement is flooded, don’t be in too big a hurry to pump it out. Here’s why. Water in the ground outside your home is pushing hard against the outside of your basement walls. But the water inside your basement is pushing right back.

If you drain your basement too quickly, the pressure outside the walls will be greater than the pressure inside the walls—and that may make the walls and floor crack and collapse, causing serious damage. To avoid this situation, follow these steps when you pump the water out of your basement:

Never go into a basement with standing water in it unless you are sure the electricity is off.

After floodwaters are no longer on top of the ground, you can start pumping the water out of the basement. Do not use gasoline-powered pumps or generators indoors because gasoline engines create deadly carbon monoxide exhaust fumes. Pump the water level down two to three feet. Mark the level and wait overnight. Check the water level the next day. When the water stops going back up, pump down another two to three feet and wait overnight. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all water is pumped out of the basement.

 

CDC and NIOSH also has lots of good information at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/flood/  

 

 

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September 12, 2008

:256 Mold and Water Damage

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

1:5:10:256 EcoTip: With the United States being pummeled by more hurricanes this year than since 2005 – the year of Katrina – it is time to look at some of the lessons learned. A January 20, 2006 CDC report examined the knowledge recovery workers had regarding personal protective equipment and mold. The paper cites evidence that exposure to mold and damp buildings can have adverse health complications.

Over the next several days my tips will focus on this and other lessons learned from Katrina that can be used during any construction activities whether it be due to catastrophic damage such as from tornadoes or hurricanes or a routine home upgrade or repair.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review:

This is the first in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

According to CDC:

In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed the literature regarding health outcomes related to damp indoor spaces (4). In addition to the risk for opportunistic fungal infections in immunocompromised persons, IOM found sufficient evidence for an association between both damp indoor spaces and mold and upper respiratory symptoms (nasal congestion and throat irritation) and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, wheeze, and exacerbation of asthma).

Basic mold awareness training and training regarding cleaning small areas of mold is available on-line at http://www.restcon.com/training.restcon.com/MAT/index.php

For more information about how to protect your home – check out my book – Extreme Weather Hits Home

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July 7, 2008

:189 Wash Your Vegies

Filed under: :189 Wash your Vegies — Tags: , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:57 am

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

1:5:10:189 EcoTip: Washing your fruits and vegetables is a great way to reduce the risk of getting sick from contaminated produce. If you can’t wash them then peel or cook them.

The purpose of this blog is to provide tips for improving our living space. I never intended to get into a discussion of food, but I’m getting tired of the many recent media broadcasts that are dealing with fecal contamination of field grown produce where they don’t discuss simple methods of rendering contaminated foods safe.

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 Additional Information:

Of course there is an expectation that prepared foods will be safe. Reports of restaurants or other food service establishments serving contaminated foods is unacceptable. They should be taking the same steps for cleanliness as everyone else. But we must realize the foods that come from the farm will never be 100% safe. Sooner or later some bird is going to fly over a field somewhere and crap on my tomato. I want farmers to take as many precautions as possible, but there will always be accidental exposures to our food that will occur. We owe it to our families to be that last line of defense, So wash, peel or cook your fresh foods.

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April 26, 2008

:117 Preparing for Fire Season

Filed under: :117 Preparing for Fire Season — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

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

1:5:10:117 EcoTip: The fire season is quickly approaching. It is time to start preparing.

Credit: FEMA

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 Additional Information

The following is taken from my new book Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Buildings from Climate Change: 

At its third annual fire congress in November 2006, the Association for Fire Ecology focused directly on the issue of climate change, stating that global warming is changing fire behavior, creating longer fire seasons, and causing more frequent, large-scale, high-severity wildfires that threaten homes and communities. This means the costs for fire suppression and property loss are also increasing due to climate change. It’s not that the warmer temperatures from climate change are increasing the fires directly. The temperature increases of a degree or two are melting snow earlier and faster each year. Drier soil conditions lead to a greater amount of dehydrated brush resulting in a longer, more intense fire season each year (Westerling).

Addtional fire safety information is available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071101202302.htm

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March 14, 2008

:074 Outlet Tester

Filed under: :074 Outlet Tester — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

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Suggested Review – none

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

1:5:10:074 Tip: Electrical outlet testers can determine if a homes electrical wiring is properly grounded and if there is reverse polarity. Improper wiring can shorten appliance life and lead to safety concerns.

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Additional Information

Electrical outlet testers are available for about $5 at any hardware store.

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March 4, 2008

:064 Non-stick cookware

Filed under: :064 Non-stick Cookware — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

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Suggested Review – none

1:5:10:064 Tip: Overheating non-stick cookware can lead to the release of toxic fumes. The fumes have killed pet birds and been implicated in causing a type of fume fever in people.

Health Canada says: “Nonstick coatings are a risk if they are heated to temperatures greater than 350°C or 650°F. This might happen if an empty pan is left on a burner. In this case, the coatings can give off irritating or poisonous fumes.”.

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Additional Information

Here’s what Dupont has to say about safe cooking practices.

http://www.teflon.com/Teflon/downloads/pdf/safety_tips.pdf

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March 3, 2008

:063 Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

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Suggested Review – none

1:5:10:063 Tip: There are two types of smoke detectors that are commonly used. Ionization smoke detectors contain a radioactive waste product from nuclear power generation. The radioactive material is shielded, but presents a disposal problem. Photoelectric smoke detectors don’t have radioactive material and studies have shown they are more reliable, especially in smokey fires.

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Additional Information

Here’s a good article in Mother Earth News that discusses the advantages and disadvantages.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Homes/1983-05-01/Photoelectric-Smoke-Detectors.aspx

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