Healthy Homes Template by Biscuit350

VIEWS: 51 PAGES: 20

									healthy homes
introduction

Most people spend over 90% of their time indoors. Your home is a very
important environment where you and your family may spend much of
your time. This brochure offers ways to make your home a healthy place.
    It includes information on indoor and outdoor air quality, pesticides,
      toxic household products, mold, tobacco smoke, radon, drinking
        water contaminants and making your home “green”. It has a little
        information about a lot of different topics and links to web sites
        to learn more. You can try the web links throughout the brochure
       or go to the federal agency web sites listed below to learn more
     about a particular topic that interests you.

    U.S. Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov
    U.S. Department of Agriculture at www.usda.gov
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at www.hhs.gov
    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at www.hud.gov
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.gov
                                                                                                             healthy homes
table of contents

 staying healthy indoors: air quality............................................... 2


 staying healthy indoors: toxics ....................................................... 5



 staying healthy outdoors: air quality ........................................... 8


 go green at home ................................................................................ 11


 air quality index ................................................................................... 14


 10 ways to make your home healthier ........................................ 15



 contacts & links .................................................................................... 16




                                                                                                            table of
                                                                                                            contents
 indoor air quality
                                       are at greater respiratory risk from        under “radon” for professionals in
first and secondhand                    other exposures such as asbestos            your area. While radon test kits are
smoke                                  and radon. Smoking also is associ­          available at hardware stores, they
                                       ated with an increased risk for Sud­        also can be purchased through the
                                       den Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).           National Safety Council at a discount­
                                       Consider quitting smoking today!            ed rate. For information on these dis­
                                                                                   counted test kits go to www.nsc.org/
                                         Action you can take:                      issues/radon/radonkitcoupons.pdf
                                       . Take the smoke-free pledge.               or to www.epa.gov/radon and look
                                       . Choose not to smoke in your home          for the link to the discounted test kits.
                                       and do not permit others to do so. Small
First and secondhand smoke comes
                                       children are especially vulnerable to the   carbon
from a burning cigarette, cigar, or
                                       health effects of secondhand smoke.         monoxide (CO)
pipe, or from an exhaling smoker.      . Choose to smoke outside, if you must      Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless,
Not only is secondhand smoke an        smoke. Moving to another room or            odorless, tasteless gas produced by
asthma trigger but those exposed       opening a window is not enough to           incomplete burning of fuels such as
to it tend to have more ear and        protect your children.                      gas, oil, propane or wood. People with
respiratory infections such as bron­                                                   anemia or with a history of heart
chitis, pneumonia, respiratory and                                                           or respiratory disease can be
ear infections. EPA estimates that
                                       radon                                                    especially sensitive to CO ex­
                                       Radon is a naturally                                      posure. Depending on the
secondhand smoke is responsible
                                       occurring     radioactive                                  level and length of expo­
for about 3,000 lung cancer deaths
                                       gas that can seep into                                     sure, carbon monoxide can
each year among nonsmokers in
                                       your home through                                         cause shortness of breath,
the U.S. About 800 of these are
                                       cracks or holes in the                                   nausea, headaches, diz­
estimated to be from exposure
                                       basement walls and floor.                             ziness, impairment of vi­
to secondhand smoke at home,
                                       Radon gas is colorless, odor­                  sion and coordination, mental
and 2,200 deaths are from expo­
                                       less and tasteless. Much of the New         confusion, fainting or even death.
sure in work or social situations.
                                       England region has elevated levels of
Smoking greatly increases the risk
                                       radon due to high amounts of granite          Action you can take:
of lung and heart disease. In addi­
                                       bedrock. Risk depends on how much           To prevent CO poisoning:
tion, smokers, and former smokers,
                                       and how long you have been exposed
                                       to radon gas, which is believed to          . Make sure your heating systems,
      EPA estimates that               be the second leading cause of lung         gas or propane stoves, ovens,
                                       cancer after smoking.                       and dryers are well-vented and in
    secondhand smoke is                                                            proper working order.
    responsible for about                Action you can take:
                                       Test your home for radon. Radon             . Don’t idle your car or lawnmower
 3,000 lung cancer deaths              test kits are available at hardware         or other gasoline-powered equipment
                                       stores. If the level exceeds the stan­      in the garage.
   each year among non­                dard, have a professional help
                                                                                   . Don’t use propane heaters or
      smokers in the U.S.              you design a plan to vent the gas to
                                                                                   candles inside of tents.
                                       the outside. Look in the phone book

                                                          2
                                                                                           healthy homes
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

                                   This respiratory illness primarily affects
                                   people over age 45 and has no known
                                   cure. COPD includes chronic bronchitis and
                                   emphysema. It is a serious health threat for
                                   New Englanders and likely affects as many
                                   as 24 million Americans nationally. Chronic
                                   coughing, chest tightness and breathless­
                                   ness of COPD make everyday activities
difficult because even simple actions put too much strain on damaged lungs.


The best way to prevent COPD is to avoid smoking. While smoking is the
primary cause of COPD, air pollution can play a significant role in both causing
the disease and making it worse. Air pollution irritates the lungs and contrib­
utes to the total overall burden. Individuals with respiratory diseases like COPD
are especially sensitive to air pollution. Exposure to air pollution may aggravate
symptoms and make it difficult to breathe.


Exhaust from cars, trucks, and power plants reacts with sunlight on hot
summer days to create ozone and emit tiny or fine particles, both of which
contribute to air pollution or smog. Air quality in New England is closely tied to
temperature and precipitation — the hotter and drier the summer, the higher
the concentration of regional pollutants.


People who are living with COPD need to pay careful attention to the air
quality. When levels of pollution are unhealthy, slow down your activities and
consider postponing outdoor activities. Throughout the summer, listen for
radio or television announcements by meteorologists about “Ozone Action
Days” designated by EPA New England or your state. An Ozone Action Day
is announced when ozone is predicted to exceed national health standards.
On these days it’s especially important to try to reduce pollution production.
                                                                                     staying healthy
  Action you can take: Early detection can help prevent further
lung damage and alter the progress of the disease. Your healthcare provider                 indoors:
can perform a simple test using a spirometer to determine if you have COPD.

                                                                                      air quality

                                                                3
. When the power goes out, be careful      many household products, includ­           ment, need moisture to germinate.
with generators and avoid unconven­        ing: paints; paint strippers and other     If mold spores from the air land on
tional heating and cooking methods.        solvents; wood preservatives; aero­        a wet surface in your home, they
. Put CO monitors/alarms that              sol sprays; cleansers and disinfec­        may just need a day or two to grow.
meet UL (Underwriters Laborato­            tants; moth repellents and air fresh­      Potential health effects and symp­
ries), IAS (International Approv­          eners; stored fuels and automotive         toms associated with mold expo­
al Service) standards in sleeping          products; hobby supplies; and dry-         sure include allergic reactions, asth­
areas and basements.                       cleaned clothing.                          ma and other respiratory complaints.
                                                                                      For more information on mold, go to:
. Consider purchasing a vented space       VOCs vary in their potential to            www.cdc.gov/health/mold.html
heater when replacing an unvented          affect health. Possible health effects
one.                                       of exposure include: irritation to eyes,     Action you can take:
. Use proper fuel in kerosene space        nose and throat; damage to the liver,      The key to controlling mold
heaters.                                   kidneys and central nervous system;        problems in your home is to control
                                           and cancer.                                moisture! Fix leaks. Dry water-dam­
. Install and use an exhaust fan vent­
                                                                                      aged areas and items within 24-48
ed to outdoors over gas stoves.
                                             Action you can take:                     hours. Reduce indoor humidity (to
. Open flues when fireplaces are in use.   Look for safer alternatives and choose     30%-60% ) by:
. Choose properly sized wood stoves        environmentally friendly products.
                                           If you must use products with VOCs,        . venting bathrooms, dryers, and
that are certified to meet EPA emission
                                           reduce your exposure by ventilat­            other moisture-generating sources
standards. Make certain that doors on
                                           ing work areas and buying only the           to the outside
all wood stoves fit tightly.
                                           amount of product that you need.           . using air conditioners and
. Have a trained professional inspect,
                                           Take care to dispose of any unused           de-humidifiers
clean, and tune-up central heating
                                           products as directed and in a safe
system (furnaces, flues and chimneys)                                                 . increasing ventilation
                                           manner (for example, take advantage
annually. Repair any leaks promptly.                                                  . using exhaust fans whenever
                                           of municipal household hazardous-
                                           waste collection days).                      cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning

organic vapors or                                                                     If mold is in your home, killing it with
volatile organic                           mold                                       bleach or cleaner is not enough.
compounds (VOCs)                                                                      The mold itself has to be removed.

                                                                                        Action you can take:
                                                                                      To remove mold from hard surfaces,
                                                                                      scrub it with a detergent cleaner and
                                                                                      water. Be sure to wear safety gear
                                                                                      such as goggles, gloves and a mask.
                                                                                      After removing the mold, take care to
                                                                                      dry the surface completely! Certain
                                                                                      mold-damaged, non-washable items
                                           Mold thrives in moist environments.
                                                                                      may have to be thrown away or treat­
Organic vapors or volatile organic         Mold spores, which are found al­
                                                                                      ed by a specialist. For more informa­
compounds (VOCs) are found in              most everywhere in our environ­
                                                                                      tion, go to www.cdc.gov/mold/


                                                             4

  staying healthy




                                                                                                       healthy homes
  indoors: toxics                                Some old toys contain lead or lead
                                                 paint, and toys can pick up lead from
asbestos                                         contaminated soil or house dust. Lead
Asbestos is a mineral found in some              was also used in older pipes, solder and
older construction materials. It was             plumbing fixtures that can corrode and
used in shingles for roofing and siding,         release lead into drinking water.
pipe and boiler insulation. It was also
used in floor tiles, ceiling panels (includ­     Exposure can result in lower intelligence
ing acoustical tiles), coatings, gaskets         in children and has been associated with
and some vermiculite insulation, and in          behavioral and attention problems. It
brake linings and disc-brake pads of older       can lead to kidney, liver, brain and nerve
and some imported vehicles. Asbestos-            damage. At very high levels, it can cause
containing materials in good condition           seizures, coma and even death. In addition,
do not pose a health risk, so the safest,        lead exposure can contribute to osteopo­
easiest and least expensive option may           rosis, can cause high blood pressure and
be to leave it alone. When construction          heart disease, especially in men. Lead ex­
materials break down, are damaged or             posure may also lead to anemia.
disturbed, tiny fibers of the mineral can
be released into the air. Inhaling                           Action you can take:
asbestos fibers can cause                                     . Get kids tested for lead by
serious lung damage, in­                                        their doctor or health care
cluding lung cancer.                                              provider.

  Action you can                                                    . If your home was built
take: If you decide                                                 before 1978 test it and
to have asbestos re­                                                the soil in your yard for
moved, hire a state-cer­                                           lead paint hazards and
tified asbestos abatement                                         their source.
professional to remove any                                     . Wash children’s hands be­
asbestos from your home. Do                                fore they eat; wash bottles, paci­
NOT do it yourself! Look in the phone               fiers, and toys often.
book under “asbestos” for professionals
                                                 . Wash floors and window sills to protect
in your area. Hire a professional mechanic
                                                 kids from dust and peeling paint contami­
to maintain or repair any vehicle parts that
                                                 nated with lead - especially in older homes.
may contain asbestos.
                                                 . Run cold water until it becomes as cold
                                                 as it can get. Use only cold water for drink­
lead                                             ing, cooking, and making baby formula.
Lead, once widely used in many different
materials, is still found in many older New
                                                 . If you, or a family member, suspect ex­
                                                 posure to lead, have a health professional
                                                                                                 staying healthy
England homes. It was added to paint             test your blood for lead levels, and follow
before being banned in 1978. Lead paint
that is chipping, peeling or in high use
                                                 up as recommended.                                     indoors:
areas (like window sills, doors, or stairways)   . For information on how to test and/or
can form dust. When this lead, contained
in dust and paint chips, is breathed
                                                 remove lead in soil, go to www.epa.gov/
                                                 region1/eco/ne_lead/index.html
                                                                                                        toxics
into the lungs or eaten, it poses a risk
to children. Toys may also pose risks.


                                                                      5
mercury                                    Children exposed to mercury, either      supplies are monitored by the gov­
                                           before they are born by the mother’s     ernment and the vast majority are
                                           exposure or as very young children,      safe and dependable. Every year,
                                           may have developmental and learn­        water suppliers are required to send
                                           ing delays and disorders.                a water quality report to the house­
                                                                                    holds they serve. In the rare case
                                             Action you can take:                   when there is a problem with the
                                           . Avoid exposure to mercury!             public water supply, the supplier
                                           . Pregnant women and children            must alert, either by mail or through
                                           should limit or avoid eating fish with   the media, everyone who might be
                                           higher mercury levels.                   affected. If you have a private well,
Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that        . Check local fish advisories with       in most cases it is your responsibil­
can cause damage to the brain and          your state health department to find     ity to have it tested. You should con­
central nervous system. The primary        out which fish have higher levels of     sider testing it anually to ensure the
                                           mercury in your area.                    quality of your drinking water.
route of human exposure is eating
fish that have acquired and accumu­        . Find alternatives to mercury-
lated mercury in their tissues. Some
                                           containing products such as digi­          Action you can take:
                                           tal thermometers, or substitutes in      Find out about the quality of your
commercially available fish, especially    cultural and spiritual practices.
large fish such as shark, swordfish,                                                drinking water. If your water comes
                                           . Take precautions when cleaning         from a public water system, read your
king mackerel and tilefish, tend to
                                           up spills.                               water quality report carefully. If you
have higher levels of mercury. Canned
light tuna has lower mercury levels        . For more information, go to: www.      have a private well, have it tested!
                                           epa.gov/mercury/disposal.htm/
than albacore, fresh/frozen tuna and
                                           todo
canned white tuna. Get more infor­
mation at: www.epa.gov/mercury/
                                                                                    pesticides and toxic
advisories.htm
                                                                                    household products
                                           drinking water                           Exposure to some household chemi­
Mercury can also enter the body by
                                           contaminants                             cals, such as pesticides, may cause
                                                                                    harm to children, pets or the envi­
breathing vapors from broken mer­
                                                                                    ronment. Always carefully read and
cury thermometers, broken fluorescent
                                                                                    follow all instructions on product
bulbs, or spilled liquid mercury. In ad­
                                                                                    labels regarding use and storage.
dition, some people may unknowingly
expose themselves to mercury (also
                                                                                    Examples of household pesticides
called azogue or vidajan) through
                                                                                    include:
cultural and spiritual practices. These
                                                                                    . cockroach sprays and baits
practices, which include sprinkling
                                                                                    . insect repellents for personal use
or burning mercury, release mercury
                                                                                    . rat and other rodent poisons
vapors into the home.                                                               . flea and tick sprays, powders, and
                                           Clean drinking water is necessary           pet collars
Exposure to mercury may result in                                                   . kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfec-
                                           for good health. High concentra­
irritability and mood swings, chang­                                                   tants and sanitizers
                                           tions of bacteria, synthetic chemi­
es in vision, hearing or speech, and                                                . products that control or kill mold
                                           cals and natural contaminants
memory and mental problems. It can                                                    and mildew
                                           in drinking water all can pose a         . some lawn and garden products,
also cause serious kidney damage.
                                           threat to your health. Public water        such as weed killers

                                                             6

                                                                                               healthy homes
Examples of household chemicals              protective standards on the amount of
include:                                     a pesticide residue that may remain on
. disinfectants and cleaning supplies        food if pesticides are applied to a crop.
. cosmetics
. medicines                                  All pesticide product labels carry a
. paints and stains                          signal word of “danger,” “warning” or
. air fresheners                             “caution” to indicate relative hazards
. swimming pool chemicals                    to people (from higher concern to
                                             lower concern). EPA requires certain
By their nature, many pesticides may         pesticides to be in child-resistant pack­
pose some risk to humans, animals,           aging. It is important for parents to
or the environment because they are          take precautions to keep all pesticides
designed to kill or otherwise ad­            and other household chemicals in
versely affect living organisms. At the      secure places safely out of the reach of
same time, pesticides are often useful       children and pets.
because of their ability to control dis­
ease-causing organisms, insects, weeds,        Action you can take:
or other pests. The pesticide label is       . Try to use the least toxic and
your guide to using pesticides safely        environmentally friendly options
and effectively. It contains pertinent       available for the job.
information that you should read and         . READ THE LABEL before you buy,
understand before you use a pesticide        use, store or dispose of household
product. Poisoning from household            pesticides and chemicals.
chemicals may have a range of effects
                                             . Wash fruits or vegetables to
from mild distress like nausea or dizzi­
                                             remove dirt, chemicals, bacteria,
ness to more serious harm including
                                             and chemicals.
injury to the lungs, or damage to the
nervous, reproductive, endocrine and         . Eat a variety of foods, from a variety
immune systems. Health effects de­           of sources to obtain a better mix of
pend on the toxicity of the product and      nutrients and reduce the likelihood
the amount and length of exposure.           of exposure from a certain pesticide.

EPA regulates pesticides in the United       . Always wash your hands after
States under the pesticide law (the          using any chemical product.
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and          . Store pesticides and toxic house­
Rodenticide Act). Before EPA allows          hold products in their original con­
a pesticide to be marketed for use in        tainers in high, locked cabinets, away      staying healthy
the U.S., EPA carefully reviews scientific   from the reach of children.
data on the chemical to understand its
toxicity and any potential concerns for
                                             . If you suspect poisoning, call                   indoors:
                                             POISON CONTROL at 1-800-222-1222.

                                                                                                toxics
human health and the environment.
EPA periodically re-evaluates older          . For more information on using
pesticide chemicals to ensure that           pesticides properly, visit EPA’s web
they conform to current health and           site at www.epa.gov/pesticides/
safety standards. EPA also sets health-      health/safely.htm

                                                                7
                                                                                                  staying healthy
 asthma                                                                                           outdoors: air quality
                                                                                                ozone
                                                        to     development        of   asthma
                                                        in children who exercise out­
                                                        side. Chronic exposure to fine
                                                        particles may affect lung function
                                                        and growth. Such pollutants also
                                                        can exacerbate asthma, leading
                                                        to breathing difficulties, increased
                                                        use of medication and visits to

Asthma is the leading cause of                          doctors’ offices, emergency rooms
                                                                                                Ground-level ozone (one of the
long-term illness in children and                       and hospitals.
                                                                                                main     ingredients    in       smog)   is
is also common in older adults                                                                  created when pollution from cars and
who may have managed it for                                  Action you can take:                   trucks and industrial sources reacts
years or developed it later in                          . Keep your home as                               with sunlight on hot sum­
life.     Indoor         asthma            triggers,    free of these triggers as                            mer days. Ozone near
such       as      smoke,        dust        mites,                                                             ground level can harm
                                                        possible.
pet fur and skin flakes, molds,                                                                                 the respiratory system,
                                                                                                                causing irritation in
cockroaches,           house         dust,     and      . For more in-depth
                                                                                                                the throat, coughing
pollen     are       some       of     the      irri­
                                                        information on asth­                                   and chest discomfort.
tants and allergens common in
                                                        ma, go to: www.epa.                                   Ozone can aggravate
many homes. These irritants and
                                                        gov/envirohealth/                                 asthma, emphysema and
allergens        can     cause       more       fre­                                                   bronchitis and can inflame and
                                                        children/ or to
quent or more severe asthma at­                                                                 damage, temporarily or permanently,
                                                        www.asthmaregionalcouncil.org
tacks      for     some      children          with                                             the cells that line the lungs.
asthma.
                                                                                                  Action you can take:
Research            on         environmental                                                    . Listen to forecasts for high ozone or
                                                                                                smog in your area. This advice applies
factors      that        cause        or     wors­
                                                                                                especially to children and adults with
en asthma has focused on in­
                                                                                                respiratory problems.
door and outdoor environmen­
tal triggers, including                    nitrogen                                             . If levels are high, limit your outdoor
                                                                                                activities or slow down your activi­
dioxide,          pesticides,         plasticizer,
                                                                                                ties to reduce your exposure. On high
volatile          organic        compounds,
                                                                                                ozone days, take steps to minimize
and        fine        particles.          Chronic
                                                                                                emissions, such as refraining from
exposure to ozone may be linked                                                                 using gas-powered lawn and garden
                                                                                                equipment and reducing the number

                                                                             8

                                                                                          healthy homes
of trips you take in your car.             the use of candles, wood-burning

. Fuel your vehicle in early morning or    stoves and fireplaces. Certain filters

in the evening.                            and room air cleaners can help reduce
                                           indoor particle levels. However,
                                           some air purifiers release
airborne particles                         potentially harmful levels
                                           of ozone and some fail
                                           to effectively remove un­
                                           wanted particles. Listen
                                           to local forecasts to find out
                                           when particle levels are high
                                           in your area and reduce outdoor
                                           activities to reduce exposure. This
                                           advice applies especially to people
                                           with respiratory or heart disease,
Airborne particles (also called fine       the older adults and children.
particles or particulate matter) are an­
other major ingredient of smog and
the main ingredient of haze. Airborne      contaminated soil
particles come from various sources,
including fuel burning activities such
as power plants, incinerators, trucks
and buses, and wood stoves and fire­
places. Smoke, airborne dust, dirt,
soot and liquid droplets can pose seri­
ous air quality problems in the home
and to children. Particle pollution
can occur year-round and can affect
both the lungs and heart. Short-term       Soil surrounding the home can

exposure to particles can aggravate        become contaminated by lead and

lung disease, causing asthma attacks       other metals, especially from chip­

and acute bronchitis, and may also         ping and peeling lead-based house

increase susceptibility to respira­        paint. Vegetables or fruits grown

tory infections. Particle levels can be    in lead-contaminated soil may also       staying healthy
elevated indoors, especially when          contain lead.

outdoor particle levels are high.
                                             Action you can take:
                                                                                         outdoors:
  Action you can take:
To reduce indoor levels of fine parti­
                                            Have your soil tested for lead
                                           (see Actions, p.5). Don’t grow veg­       air quality
cles, refrain from smoking and reduce      etables if the testing shows high



                                                             9

                                                                                            air quality forecast
levels of lead in the soil. If your         and suppress the immune system
soil is contaminated and you still          when exposure is excessive. Sunlight           EPA works in coordination with
want to grow fruits or vegetables,          tends to be strongest in the summer            local weather forecasters to
purchase topsoil and potting soil and       in the middle of a clear day; however,         provide a color-coded chart that
grow the plants in containers. Also,        UV is present at some level whenev-            reports air quality levels in com­
landscape your yard to minimize expo-       er the sun is up, all day, all year              munities across New England.
sure. Go to www.epa.gov/region01/           — even on cloudy days.                                 You may see this chart on
leadsafe for detailed information on        Overexposure to the                                       local weather fore­
what more you can do.                       sun’s harmful UV light                                      casts. The purpose
                                            may damage skin,                                             of the Air Quality
                                            cause eye damage                                              Index and Fore­
ultraviolet (UV)                            and suppress the                                              cast is to help you
radiation                                   immune system.                                                  understand what
                                                                                                          local air quality
                                                                                                        means to your health.
                                              Action you
                                                                                                   It is divided into cat­
                                            can take:
                                                                                             egories that corresponds to a
                                            . Avoid overexposure to the sun
                                                                                           different level of health concern.
                                            by using sun screen, staying in the
                                            shade or inside and covering up with
                                            light clothing and a hat when the UV                 For more information,
                                            radiation is at its peak.                              please refer to the
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun     . Wear sunglasses.                                     detailed AQI chart
may damage skin, cause eye damage                                                                     on page 14.


 temperature extremes

                                      New England’s unusually hot or cold weather can present a threat to the health of older
                                      adults people. When winter temperatures drop significantly below normal, staying warm
                                      and safe can become a challenge. Many homes will be too cold, either due to a power
                                      failure or because the heating system isn’t adequate for the weather. When people
                                      must use space heaters and fireplaces to stay warm, the risk of household fires increas­
                                      es, as well as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. In summer the opposite can be true.
                                      During a heat wave, it can be difficult to find cool relief and homes can become dangerously
                                      overheated. Sensitivity to temperature extremes increases as we age.


                                       Action you can take: Those with chronic diseases are at greatest risk.
                                    Stock food, fluids and clothing appropriate for extreme cold or heat. Identify some
                                    public places you could go to escape the extreme weather. Be aware of current
 and forecasted air quality by signing up to receive free air quality alerts at www.epa.gov/ne/aqi/, and plan activi­
 ties accordingly. Know who to call if you need help.



                                                               10
 go green at home




                                                                                        healthy homes
                                          ers, televisions, cell phones) and food
reuse                                     wastes. Collecting recyclables varies from
The old adage “One man’s trash is         community to community; however,
another man’s treasure” defines reuse.    there are four primary methods
Reusing items by repairing them, do­      of recycling: curbside, drop-off
nating them to charity and community      centers, buy-back centers, and
groups, or selling them reduces waste.    deposit/refund programs.
Reusing products, when possible, is
even better than recycling because the      Action you can
item does not need to be reprocessed      take: Identify your
before it can be used again.              community’s recycling
                                          program at www.epa.gov/
    Action you can take: Consid­          region1/communities/
er reuse when disposing of household      recycling.html or contact your
items such as old computers, clothing     local department of public works
and appliances. For reuse opportuni­      or state environmental agency.
ties, see EPA New England’s pamphlet
titled Reuse in New England, a resource
guide to donation opportunities at        recycling electronics
www.epa.gov/region1/assistance/           (eCycling)
reuse/index.html                          Electronic equipment, sometimes
                                          referred to as “e-waste” is an emerging
                                          and growing waste stream. E-waste
recycle                                   includes electronic products discarded
                                          by consumers such as TV and computer
                                          monitors, CPUs and computer peripher­
                                          als (e.g., keyboards, mice), cell phones,
                                          and printers/copiers.

                                          Check what kind of electronics can be
                                          collected in your community and which
                                          retailers and manufacturers will take
                                          their products back for free or for a fee.

                                          E-waste contains natural resources,
Recycling includes collecting recy­       including metals and plastics that
clable materials that would other­        can be reclaimed. In addition, com­
wise be considered garbage, sorting       puter monitors and older TV picture
and processing recyclables into raw       tubes contain an average of two
materials, and manufacturing raw
materials into new products. Recy­
                                          to four pounds of lead (depend­
                                          ing on their age) and require special
                                                                                       go green
clable materials typically include: pa­   handling when disposed. Electronics
per and paperboard (like newsprint,
cardboard, direct mail), glass, metals
                                          also can contain other substances of
                                          concern, including mercury, cadmi­
                                                                                       at home
(such as steel and aluminum), plas­       um, and brominated flame retardants.
tics (like bottles, grocery bags), yard   When electronics are disposed of
waste (such as grass clippings, brush),   improperly, these toxic materials can
electronic equipment (like comput­        present problems.

                                                             11
  Action you can take:                        in your backyard in a compost pile or            to be household hazardous waste.
Extending the life of your electron­          bin or in your home with a worm bin.             Products, such as paints, cleaners, oils,
ics or donating your most up-to-date          It is nature’s way of recycling organic          batteries, pesticides and solvents,
and working electronics can save you          waste into new soil, which can be used           which contain potentially hazardous
money and saves valuable resources.           in vegetable and flower gardens,                    ingredients, require special care at
Safely recycling outdated electronics         landscaping, and many other                               disposal. If mishandled, these
promotes safe management of haz­              applications.                                                products can be danger­
ardous components and supports the                                                                            ous to your health and
recovery and reuse of valuable materi­          Action you                                                      the environment.
als. For detailed information on what         can take: Collect
you can do, go to: www.epa.gov/               your yard and food                                                     Action you
region01/solidwaste/electronic/               wastes and start your                                                can take:
what-u-can-do.html                            own composting                                                       Never pour house­
                                              at home. See www.                                                   hold hazardous wastes
                                              epa.gov/NE/compost­                                               down the drain, on the
composting                                    ing/index.html and check                                        ground, into storm sew­
Composting, the controlled biological         your state environmental                                     ers, or put them out with
decomposition of organic matter such          agency’s composting site.                                the trash.
as food and yard wastes into humus,
a soil-like material, is another form of                                                          Action you can take:
recycling. It is nature’s way of recycling    household                                        Proper disposal opportunities gener­
organic wastes into new soil which            hazardous waste                                  ally include community sponsored
can be used in vegetable and flower           Discarded household products that                household hazardous waste days. Go to
gardens, landscaping and many other           contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or          www.epa.gov/NE/communities/
applications. Composting can be done          reactive ingredients are considered              hazwaste.html for detailed information.


 pressure treated wood
                                 Pressure-treated    wood     is        EPA’s review of CCA is still ongoing, the agency does not be­
                                 wood that has been treated             lieve there is any reason to remove or replace CCA-treated
                                 with a preservative to pro­            structures, including decks and playground equipment.
                                 tect it against dry rot, fungi,
                                 molds, termites and other                  Action you can take: Always wash hands thor­
                                 pests. Since the 1970s, the            oughly after contact with any treated wood, especially prior
                                 majority of wood used to               to eating and drinking. Food should not come into direct
                                 build outside structures, such         contact with any treated wood. Wash play clothes and toys
                                 as swing and play sets, decks,         if they have come in contact with any treated wood. If you
                                 walkways, fences and picnic            are concerned, you may want to consider the application of a
 tables, was treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA).              coating product to pressure-treated wood on a regular basis.
 CCA is a chemical wood preservative containing chromium,               The following link provides information on sealants: (www.
 copper and arsenic. Exposure to inorganic arsenic may pres­            epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/index.htm#sealants).
 ent certain hazards. Use of CCA for wood products around               Some studies suggest that sealants can reduce the amount
 the home and in children’s play areas is no longer allowed as          of CCA that leaches from treated wood. Treated wood should
 of December 31, 2003. Even though CCA can no longer be                 never be burned in open fires, stoves, fireplaces, or residential
 used in residential settings, many existing decks and other            boilers. For more information on CCA, see EPA’s web site at
 structures are made of wood treated with CCA. Although                 www.epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/

                                                                   12
                                                                                            healthy homes
how to start saving                          energy than any other appliance in
energy with                                  your home, but an ENERGY STAR7 qualified
                                             refrigerator uses about half the energy
ENERGY STAR7 today                           of a 10-year old conventional model.

                                             . Consider replacing your central air
                                             conditioning system if it is more than
                                             seven years old. Look for the ENERGY
                                             STAR7 label when you buy and use 20%
                                             less energy than a standard model.
                                             If just one household in 10 bought
ENERGY STAR7 is a government-backed          ENERGY STAR7 heating and cooling equip­
program helping businesses and in­           ment, the change would keep over 17
dividuals protect the environment            billion pounds of pollution out of our air.
through superior energy efficiency.
Energy efficient choices can save fami­      . Replace your clothes washer with
lies about a third on their energy bill      an ENERGY STAR7 labeled model when
with similar savings of greenhouse gas       it is time. Clothes washers use energy
emissions, without sacrificing features,     to both clean clothes and heat water,
style or comfort. There are several sim­     so to save on energy costs, wash your
ple actions you can take to save energy.     clothes in cooler water. ENERGY STAR7
                                             qualified clothes washers use 50% less
. Change a light and save a bundle.          water and 70% less energy per load;
ENERGY STAR7 qualified light bulbs are 75%   that’s up to $100 every year.
more efficient than incandescent bulbs.
When just one room in every home             . Run your washer, dryer, and dish­
is brightened by ENERGY STAR7 lighting,      washer only with a full load.
the change will keep over one trillion
pounds of carbon dioxide out of our air.     . Seal and insulate your home to
                                             improve comfort and reduce heating
. Make a quick trip to the hardware store    and cooling costs. EPA recommends
or home improvement center for a hot         Home Sealing to improve your home’s
water insulation kit to wrap your water      “envelope” or the outer walls, ceiling,
heater and save on water heating costs.      windows and floors. To improve the
                                             envelope of your home: Add insula­
. Use an ENERGY STAR7 qualified              tion, seal air-leaks, and choose an
programmable thermostat that can             ENERGY STAR7 labeled window if you’re in
automatically adjust the temperature of      the market for new windows.
your home when you are away.
                                             . Check with your local utility or use
. Ensure that your whole system (i.e.,
                                             our Special Offers search to see what
                                                                                           go green
furnace, heat pump, air conditioner,
                                             incentives or rebates are available for
and heating and cooling) is energy
                                             the purchase of ENERGY STAR7 qualified
efficient. Leaky ducts can decrease the
                                             appliances, lighting, or HVAC systems.
overall energy efficiency of your heating
and cooling system by as much as 20%.
Duct sealing increases efficiency and        . Start saving energy by using our            at home
lowers your utility bills.                   Home Improvement Tools. These tools
                                             can tell you how efficiently you use
. Upgrade your refrigerator if it is 10      energy at home and recommend the
years old or older. Refrigerators use more   most cost-effective improvements.


                                                                 13
                                                                                                      AQI air quality index

Air Quality      Levels of              Cautionary                       Cautionary
Index (AQI)       Health                Statements                     Statements for
  Values         Concern                 for Ozone                    Particle Pollution

   0-50           Good                      None                             None                  The Air Quality
                                                                                                   Index (AQI)
                                     Unusually sensitive              Unusually sensitive          is a standardized
                                        people should                    people should
  51-100         Moderate                                                                          method of report­
                                      consider reducing                consider reducing
                                     prolonged or heavy               prolonged or heavy           ing air pollution. It
                                      exertion outdoors.                   exertion.               measures pollutant
                                                                                                   concentrations in a
                                   Active children and adults,       People with heart             community’s air to a
                                      and people with lung            or lung disease,             number on a scale of
                 Unhealthy
                for Sensitive       disease, such as asthma,         older adults, and             0 to 500. It enables
 101-150
                  Groups                  should reduce               children should
   Air Quality “Forecast” - EPA works in coordination with lo-                                     the public to deter­
                                       prolonged or heavy           reduce prolonged
   cal weather forecasters to provide a color-coded chart that
                                        exertion outdoors.          or heavy exertion.
                                                                                                   mine whether air
                           aq in communities across New Eng-
   reports air quality levels chart here
                                                                                                   pollution levels are
   land. You may see this chart on local weather forecasts.
   The purpose of the Air Quality Index and Forecast is to                                         good, moderate, un­
                                   Active children and adults,
   help you understand what local air quality means to
                                      and people with lung        People with heart or             healthful—or worse.
   your health. It is divided into categories that corre-      lung disease, older adults,
                                    disease, such as asthma,                                       It is often seen on
   sponds to a different level of health concern.              and children should avoid
                                   should avoid prolonged or
 151-200         Unhealthy          heavy exertion outdoors.    prolonged or heavy exer-           weather broadcasts
                                    Everyone else, especially  tion. Everyone else should          on television.
                                     children, should reduce       reduce prolonged
                                       prolonged or heavy           or heavy exertion.
                                        exertion outdoors.


                                 Active children and adults,          People with heart or
                                    and people with lung          lung disease, older adults,
                                  disease, such as asthma,
                   Very                                           and children should avoid
 201-300                          should avoid all outdoor       all physical activity outdoors.
                 Unhealthy         exertion. Everyone else,       Everyone else should avoid
                                 especially children, should          prolonged or heavy
                                 avoid prolonged or heavy
                                                                            exertion.
                                      exertion outdoors.



                                                                  People with heart or lung
                                                                    disease, older adults,
                                  Everyone should avoid all          and children should
 301-500        Hazardous                                         remain indoors and keep
                                  physical activity outdoors.
                                                                 activity levels low. Everyone
                                                                     else should avoid all
                                                                  physical activity outdoors.


                                                           14

                                                                                                healthy homes
  ten ways to make your home healthier


1. Clear the air.                              6. Water, water
Take the smoke-free pledge. Choose
not to smoke in your home and do not
                                               everywhere.
                                               Know the quality of your drinking
permit others to do so. Small children
                                               water. If you have a private drinking
are especially vulnerable to the health
                                               water well, test it periodically.
effects of secondhand smoke. Choose
to smoke outside, if you must smoke.
Moving to another room or opening a            7. Get the lead out.
window is not enough to protect your           Avoid potential sources of lead. If your
children.                                      home was built before 1978, have
                                               your home tested for lead paint. When
                                               remodeling or doing home repairs, be
2. Air quality.                                careful that you do not create lead dust.
Listen to local forecasts for ozone, smog
                                               Keep children visiting your home away
and particulate matter. When levels are
                                               from lead hazards.
high, limit your outdoor activities.

3. Rid your house                              8. Keep mercury
of radon.                                      from rising.
Test the level of radon gas in your home       Limit your intake of specific types of
with a radon test kit. If the test result is   fish with high levels of mercury. Have a
4pCi/L or higher, takes steps to reduce        mercury-free home—find alternatives
radon.                                         to mercury thermometers or mercury
                                               used for cultural or spiritual practices.

4. Some household
                                               9. Too much sun
products are toxic.
Use with caution! Look for alternatives        is not much fun.
to pesticides and household chemi­             Cover up, use SPF 15 or higher sun
cals. If you must use them, always read        screen, and stay out of the midday sun
the label and follow directions exactly.       to avoid damaging UV rays.
Always store them in high locked cabi­
nets and in their original containers.         Talk about the weather. Make a plan
                                               for temperature extremes—keep food,
                                               fluids and clothing stocked for extreme
5. Check for                                   cold or heat, think of public places to
carbon monoxide.                               go to escape the extreme tempera­
                                               tures, and identify who you can call for
                                                                                               10 Ways
Check that all potential sources of car­
bon monoxide, such as space heaters            help if you need it.
and wood stoves, are well-vented and
in proper working order. Never idle the        10. Wash your hands of it.
car or lawnmower in the garage, or use
propane heaters in tents!
                                               Keep the dirt outside. Remove shoes at       to make your
                                               the door. Wash your hands to keep dirt
                                               that might be contaminated with lead,
                                               and pesticides off you and your kids.       home healthier

                                                                  15
                                                                           healthy homes
 contacts & links

poison control                        children
                                      EPA New England
information
                                      Children’s Health website:
National Poison Control Hotline:
1-800-222-1222 (emergency)            www.epa.gov/ne/topics/
202-362-8563 (TDD)                    humanh/childrenh.html
202-362-3867 (administra­
                                      EPA National Headquarters
tive materials requests)
                                      Office of Children’s Health
American Association of               Protection website:
                                      www.epa.gov/children
Poison Control Centers:
info/ (information about poisoning)
www.aapcc.org                         Environmental Justice Hotline:
                                      1-800-962-6215
                                      email:
air quality information               environmental-justice-epa@epa.gov
and forecasts
www.epa.gov/ne/aqi                    Pediatric Environmental Health
(information about New England        Center at Children’s Hospital:
air quality)                           1-888-CHILD14 (1-888-244-5314)
                                      email:
www.airnow.gov                        suzanne.giroux@tch.harvard.edu
(information on national
air quality)                          aging
                                      EPA National Headquarters
general information                   Aging Initiative website:
EPA New England                       www.epa.gov/aging
1 Congress Street, Suite 1100
Boston, MA 02114-2023
www.epa.gov/ne/

EPA New England’s
Customer Call Center:
1-888-EPA-7341 (1-888-372-7341)

National Pesticide

                                                                          Contacts
Information Center Hotline
1-800-858-7378 (PEST)

National Service Center for
Environmental Publications:                                                & Links
1-800-490-9198
email: ncepimal@one.net




                                                      16
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                                                                                                                                                           www.epa.gov/ne/healthyhomes         www.epa.gov/ne/healthyhomes




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