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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

I was reading on the npr.org website this morning about how the FDA is rejecting the petition to ban BPA use in food packaging. 

Here’s a link to the NPR report.

Here’s a link to the study the decision was based on.

What has gotten me  into such a snit (I usually don’t post on the weekend) is the research study it was based on and while I applaud their transparency and truthfulness in the pathetic and completely unconvincing nature of this study I don’t think the average citizen will necessarily know to take that into account.  What I fear is that the average citizen will say, “Oh, the FDA says BPA exposure is ok so – it must be.”

In short, the study was done on 20 (that’s 2-0) men and women over the course of 24 hours.  They were to consume foods packaged with BPA containing wrappers, can liners, etc.  Various blood (serum) and urine tests were done after 24 hours finding BPA  levels to be at or below the level of detection. 

BUT

It’s the repeated exposure over time that is concerning with this chemical.  One 24 hour exposure does not a convincing study make.

I think I’ll stick with avoiding BPA containing products/exposure not only to reduce garbage but if there is something I can consciously do to keep my family healthy and until more definitive studies are done I think it would be a no brainer to continue avoidance of BPA.  The fact that they don’t have more information/studies done is disappointing as commercially, companies are having a hay-day advertising that their products do not contain BPA and now with this report out it can only lead to confusion for the public.

And that, is unfortunate.

I shall step down from my soapbox now.

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The American Lung Association sponsors the training of Master Home Environmentalists to voluntarily (read:  free of charge) come out to your home and go through a Home Environmental Assessment List (HEAL).  It’s an incredibly thorough process – definitely worth doing and if you’re thinking of trying to sell your home, having this done might be a nice selling point to add to your list of home features (ie, radon testing).

Unfortunately, with our rotten economy the training program is being put on hold with only a very limited number of staff available (at least in the King County area) to go to homes to perform this survey. 

Lucky for you there is a do-it-yourself version which is also invaluable and if you fill out this form here – they’ll send you one.

And here is the American Lung Association’s site.

I honestly have no idea if there is an international equivalent to the American Lung Association.  If you are aware of such organization please let me know and include a link to share.  Thanks!

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English: A schematic of the global air polluti...

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This time of year brings stagnant air.  Living in the Puget Sound Region in Washington State and between two mountain ranges (Olympic and Cascade) we’re even more vulnerable to poor air quality.  Burn bans are in effect and health advisories have been issued.  The elderly and very young, as always, are more vulnerable to illness.  They’re even advising again strenuous outdoor exercising – walking instead of running, limiting outdoor playtime for kids.  That seems pretty serious.  A little extreme even – I’m a little skeptical.

Be that as it may, all the more reason to keep on top of the air in my home.  I don’t need to add to the poor air quality burden.  Staying on top of the dust, keeping those linen’s clean (wash in hot water) and the dust bunnies I just found under my bed – gone.  Next up, humidity control.  Need to do more research on that topic.

There is a lot you can work on  within your own home to significantly improve your air quality.  Isn’t that great news?! 

I wasn’t kidding about how much you can do.  Better get to work:  http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/careforyourair.html

This was a good reminder for me too. 

Here’s a fun and informative website: 

 
 

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House dust miteCold weather is upon us.  That means drier skin, which sloughs off, especially at night when your asleep all snug in your bed  This is where dust mites feast.  Lotion, moisturize and hydrate as much as you want but make sure you’re changing you bed linens (ideally) weekly and washing them in hot water to kill those little suckers.  Truth be told I just realized haven’t changed the sheets since we moved into this new place despite the fact that we just got yummy new fleece sheets from my parents.

Guess what I’m doing tonight.

It really does need to be hot water that you use too.  The warm and cold setting doesn’t seem to be quite as effective.  I’m a cold water user myself so I just make sure that this hot water load is a full one (as all wash loads should be) with sheets and other bed linens to make the most of it.

Update about the funk from last week:  I’ve taken to closing off the living room and ventilating out of the one window that opens (there’s 6 windows in this room altogether – I can’t believe only one opens!)  There’s no screen on the front door and with Sofia, two indoor cats and a semi-busy street mere feet away I’m keeping the front door closed.  Still researching but getting some good suggestions!  Thanks!

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Our place is quickly losing walking space and the walls are closing in around us as boxes start stacking, up and out from the walls.  We’re moving next weekend – more specifically – Jon is moving us next weekend.  I’ll be at my first vending event on Saturday and then at work the next day.  The place we’re moving to was a steal and seemingly perfect  but the fact remains:  There’s a lot to be done.

I did recieve my coupon for a radon testing kit in the mail and have since lost it in the chaos that is my home right now so I called again last week and ended up getting transferred back to Washington State and spoke with a gentleman from the radon center here  in state.  He was really helpful and was great at putting things in perspective.

Like so many things in life it’s about common sense. 

First lets talk about the house we’re moving to and why I not as gung ho to do the radon testing.  It’s a house built in 1920 with a basement.  I live in a low risk area for starters.  The basement has a door leading to the outside with a pet door installed so you know nothing down there is air tight.  My family is big on ventilation and since winters are mild in the Pacific Northwest (like every other season here) that door will be opened on a regular basis.  Oh, and the guy said that if we’re spending less than an hour down there the risk for exposure is pretty minimal.  He actually recommended the second floor living room which is where our front door is located.  Bottom line with this house, I’m not too worried but I may try to have a coupon mailed to the new house as I’m sure I would just lose it again if I had it mailed here.  Ugh, this place is a disaster!

Second, I asked about our property and how we’re getting ready to build.  Again, it’s a low risk area and here’s where he had a good point.  Radon is everywhere there is dirt it will exist with or without the presence of a house built on the site.  With new construction what is more important is to build with intention.  You want to build in good ventilation not only to prevent this colorless, odorless gas from accumulating but for better indoor air quality in general.  The EPA put out this 84 page PDF guide written for contractors that looks really informative (no, I didn’t read the whole thing but I’m hoping my contrator has).  As it states in the guide to be educated on building radon out would be a great selling point for anyone working in constrution.

Radon levels in homes requiring action effect less than 10% of homes in this country and yet there is a HUGE amount of research and information (entire centers dedicated just to radon) about this silent but deadly gas that makes me pause and take a closer look at, learn more about just to make sure my family is ok – thankfully, becoming informed, and educated about it is easy to do.  The 1-800-SOS- RADON phone number was really handy.  I was able to speak to someone in my state making it all the more relevant to me. 

Easy.

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A Sneak Peek.

It’s hard not to be intimitated by all the talented, creative people out there (and those are just the ones with an internet presence).  Insecurities can creep in easily, especially when you’re tired and new to all of this creating and putting yourself out there kind of stuff.  At the same time I’m totally inspired.  I’ve also noticed that by putting myself out there I have this strange sense of accountability, a sense of responsibility which itself can be a motivator.  I’m enjoying the sense of possibility that comes from creating. 

And, to put it plainly, I’m just having so much fun at all this I think I’ll just keep on going…

Here are a few of the t shirt design ideas floating in my head.  A very simple design is what I’m going for – nothing flashy or over the top because that’s not me. 

About the shirts:  I got a great deal on them from a wholesaler as they are the “irregulars” the cast-offs perfect except color shading – I think they’re great!  I ordered the “assortment” so I didn’t know what colors I would be getting until they arrived at my doorstep!  That was the exciting part but also slightly anxiety producing.  What made me nervous is that all of the appliques/designs are used with fabric, thread, etc from second had stores so there was the potential challenge of matching colors/patterns with what I had.  That was also the fun part of it.  I invited my mom over and she brought some scraps from her ENORMOUS fabric stash and we spent some time mixing and matching colors and patterns – this is when knowing a quilter is especially handy.

What I like about these shirts are their sturdiness, the fun fabrics and simple, enduring designs and the fact that I didn’t have to go out and buy everything new to create something cool.  Even my sewing machine is used – it’s a Bernina from the 1960s.

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Does your home have a shoes off at the door policy?  Do you have small, crawling-age children in your home or over to visit often?  Do you like to sit on the floor like I do?

Take a moment and think about all the places you’ve walked today.  I went to the pet store (needed a new litter scoop), the grocery store (needed more produce to make our super smoothies), storytime at the local library, then a playdate where we walked about a two miles on residential streets and dirt trail.  Oh, and then I went jogging at the track at our neighborhood junior high.  All in all, an average day.  Just off the top of my head I can think that my shoes were exposed to a variety of different animal poop, all sorts of different little bugs that I unknowingly squashed, LOTS and LOTS of chemicals from leaky cars on the residential roads and parking lots, chemicals used to clean the library carpets, pet and grocery store floors.

Sofia, at greater than 2.5 years old is still putting her fingers in her mouth – a lot.  We like to play on the floor and we’re pretty strict about shoes off when you get inside the house.  Everyone knows that I love my vacuum cleaner and yet when I steam cleaned a couple weekends ago that water was dirty – not black, but definitely dirty.

My point is:  if you want to decrease the amount of pollution exposure to you and your family take your shoes off at the door. 

This brings up another topic:  doormats.  They’re not just for decoration, ya know.  They come in a variety of textures but here’s some helpful information:  The bristly doormats are great for dislodging the big stuff, rocks, mud, debris that gets caught in the soles of your shoes and such.  It’s those smoother, and what I used to think, completely worthless doormats that are equally if not more important (if you had to choose just one).  The really low pile or nearly smooth doormats (similar to what you would find in the entrance to the mall or grocery store) are super effective in getting all those chemicals off.  Assuming you take the time to wipe your feet.

In an ideal world you would have a three-step entry process.  First, the bristly doormat to get the big stuff off, then the shorter/smoother mat for the chemically, liquidy, smaller stuff THEN you would take your shoes off and go ahead on into the house.

Sounds like quite a process, doesn’t it.  It does to me too.  The condo that we’re renting does have a very small tiled foyer and we’ve placed a small bench to prop feet on to take shoes on and off and we have the bristly mat outside the front door.  I think the smoother mat is key though and would like to have one just inside the door.  Shoe storage can be a challenge.  We’ve got racks on the floor and hanging racks in the coat closet.  We’re just throwing Sofia’s shoes into a cardboard box for now.  There are lots of ways to get creative with shoes storage.  A friend of ours even has a shoe rack of slippers for guests to wear while visiting – so thoughtful!   As we plan and get ready to start building our home we took a lot of time considering and planning the entry way to make it easy to follow and enforce the shoes off philosophy.

There’s all sorts of other ways you can bring pollutants into your home:  on your jacket/coat, the grocery bag you set on the ground to lock your car door or open the security gate to your building, or simply opening a window in your home to name a few.  Taking your shoes off at the entrance to your home (whether inside or outside) can be an easy lifestyle change with significant benefits.  But it is a lifestyle change, I’ve met quite a few people who wouldn’t think of takeing their shoes off inside their home and are really uncomfortable with the idea – hence calling this shoes-off policy a lifestyle change.  Give a try – your family will be healthier for it.

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