Monthly Archives: November 2016

How To Saving Water at Home

We use water to do so many things each and every day that we probably don’t even think about it: We brush our teeth, flush the toilet, water the pets and plants, andrinse off fruits and vegetables for our meals and snacks. Just stop and think about what a big contribution you could make toward water conservation if you started saving water each time you turned on that faucet.

Tips to Get Started With Water Conservation

Each summer, after the soil gets dry, dusty, and cracked, and the grass turns brittle and brown, people begin to think about water conservation. But you needn’t wait until water supplies have already dwindled to consider ways to save water; it’s possible to do it all year long.

10 Green Alternatives for Everyday Services

By making some simple changes at home, you can begin saving water (and money on your water bill), and help prevent water shortages. Try these tips to help with water conservation:

  • Update your bathroom. Invest in low-flow toilets and showerheads. They’re typically not expensive and offer a huge value, both in water conservation efforts and in what you pay for water — you’ll use significantly less.
  • Skip the bath. That doesn’t mean don’t bathe — just opt for a shower that saves water instead. When you need to scrub the kids in the tub before bed, turn bath time into playtime — and water conservation time — by letting the kids take a bath together.
  • Choose efficient appliances. Ready to upgrade your washing machine or dishwasher? Look for energy-efficient appliances that conserve water by using less than older appliances do.
  • Plug up the sink. To wash dishes, fill your sink with clean, soapy water, and then give them a quick rinse. You’ll save water by not running the faucet the whole time.
  • Let the dishwasher do the work. Don’t wash or rinse dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. Most dishwashers should be able to scrub dirty dishes for you — isn’t that why you have one?
  • Use appliances sparingly. Don’t do a load of laundry for two or three shirts or run the dishwasher for a handful of silverware and plates. Wait until you have a full load to run those appliances.
  • Store cold water. Think of how much water you waste every time you let the faucet run until the water gets as cold as you want it. Fix that problem by filling a jug or pitcher of water and keeping it in the refrigerator.
  • Rethink your yard. Use plants that don’t require a lot of watering, and protect soil from drying out with a thick layer of mulch. When you do water your plants, make sure it’s at the coolest time of day and not in the hot, bright sun. Install a hose nozzle that shuts itself off so it doesn’t waste water.
  • Plug the leak. This is one of the biggest water conservation changes you can make: Fix any leaky faucet or pipe, dripping spigot, or running toilet, and you can reduce your water usage by as much as 10 percent.

Do You Need a Water Filter?

Make Water Conservation a Family Affair

The fact is that we need more water every year than we can find. Teach your children and other family members the importance of saving water, and how easy it is to do. They’ll grow up learning to be thoughtful about how much water they use each and every day. Even the smallest members of the household can have a big impact on how much water you use. Have everyone in the family working on water conservation by adopting these habits:

  • Take a quick shower instead of a leisurely one. Don’t dawdle or daydream: Lather, rinse, and turn off the faucet.
  • Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth instead of letting the water run.
  • Give the water a rest when washing hands; turn it on only to wet and rinse.
  • Sweep off your deck, patio, or driveway instead of washing it down with a hose.
  • Don’t fill the tub all the way to the top when you want to relax with a soak.
  • When waiting for the shower water to warm up, use a bucket to catch the water and use it for plants both indoors and out.

How to Make Barbecue Safely

Did you know that the type of grill you own impacts the way you should care for it?

  • Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around the grill.
  • Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking food.
  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
  • Use only outdoors! If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, barbecue grills pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to carbon monoxide.

Charcoal Grills

  • Purchase the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.

Propane Grills

  • Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles.
  • If you determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test and there is no flame:
    • Turn off the propane tank and grill.
    • If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
    • If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
  • All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.
  • Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
  • Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.

For Water Quality Do You Need a Water Filter

Are you concerned about the water quality in your home, or do you yearn for better tasting water from your kitchen faucet?

First, consider whether you really need a water purification system in your home. More than 90 percent of the water supply in the United States is safe to drink from the tap, according to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

However, some people may need to consider a water purification system to improve water quality in their homes for health safety reasons, including those who have:

  • A high level of lead in their water, as shown by water testing
  • A high level of a contaminant in their water, such as radon in water from a well
  • An extremely compromised immune system, such as those with HIV or who are on chemotherapy

Water purification systems can help to eliminate contaminants that can make you sickor affect the taste or feel of your water supply. Water filter systems may be able to remove:

  • Microbes, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites, such as cryptosporidium and giardia
  • Lead
  • Radon
  • Radium
  • Nitrates
  • Arsenic
  • Pesticides
  • Byproducts of the disinfection process

Water Filter Options

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on a water filter system. Look for a water purification or filter system that has been certified to meet standards of water quality set by the EPA, as well as one that meets your specific needs. Not every system can remove every contaminant. If you’re concerned about a particular contaminant, like bacteria or radon, find the water filter system that works best at removing that particular contaminant from your water supply.

A water purification system can be either point of use (POU), meaning it filters the water at the particular faucet it is attached to, or point of entry (POE), in which the water supply is filtered as it comes into your home so that you have purified water at every faucet. The system might include a filter, a piece of material that “catches” contaminants like microbes and chemicals in the water, or it might remove or destroy contaminants in another manner.

Point-of-entry water filter options include:

  • Water softeners. A water softener uses an exchange system to correct water “hardness.” Tap water contains calcium and magnesium, which can make the water very hard. This water filter uses sodium or potassium ions to replace the calcium and magnesium ions, which makes the water softer.
  • Aerators. These water filter devices use jets of air to remove certain chemicals, like radon and chemical components of gasoline.
  • Adsorptive media or water filtration. These are often carbon-based filtering systems that trap both solids and liquids in the material of the filter.

Point-of-use water filter options include:

  • Distillers. These devices boil water and remove the contaminant-containing water vapor from the drinking water. This water filtration process removes many of the minerals naturally found in water, but may change the taste.
  • Reverse osmosis units. These devices filter water through a membrane, using pressure that pulls out chemicals and microbes. These systems use a lot of water, but they do remove all microbes that cause disease and a lot of chemicals. This is an extremely effective system for purifying water.
  • Filtered water pitchers. These pitchers come equipped with a replaceable (usually every three months) filter that traps chemicals and other contaminants. You simply fill the pitcher from your tap and wait while the water flows through the filter. These are affordable and easy to use, and will also improve the taste of tap water.

Water Filter Alternatives

If you aren’t ready to buy a water purification system, there are other ways to remedy some (but not all) drinking water problems without a water filter:

  • When turning on water for the first time in a few hours, turn on the cold water tap and let it run for several minutes. This can help flush lead out of the water.
  • Boil water for one to three minutes, then put it in a clean pitcher and put it in the refrigerator. This should kill microbes, like cryptosporidium.
  • Put tap water in a pitcher or another container and refrigerate it. This can help improve the taste of overly chlorinated water.

If you’re concerned about water safety, you can take steps to improve water quality at home, and make sure that what you’re drinking is safe for you and your family. Once you figure out the problems you need to address, you can find the best system to improve your water quality.

Warning The Bed Bug Insecticides Causing Sickness

Bed bug infestations are bad enough, but a new report finds that more than 100 Americans have become sickened from exposure to the insecticides used to eliminate the pests.

The cases happened across seven states, researchers said, and bed bug insecticide exposure may have even contributed to one death.

“The majority of cases involved misuse,” said report co-author Dr. Geoffrey Calvert, a medical officer at the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Although the issue is not yet a major public health problem, he did offer one key recommendation for folks battling bed bugs.

“If you can’t control bed bugs with non-chemical means, such as washing and vacuuming, that means it’s probably going to be difficult to eradicate them, and we would recommend that people enlist the services of a pest control operator,” Calvert said.

The findings are published in the Sept. 23 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Bed bugs have made a notable comeback over the past few years across the United States and beyond. In San Francisco, for example, reports of bed bug infestations doubled between 2004 and 2006, one study found.

In the new study, the researchers looked at data on illnesses linked to bed bug eradication efforts reported via a federally funded pesticide illness surveillance program between 2003 and 2010. They found 111 such cases across seven states.

Most of the cases, 93 percent, were among people who tried to solve a bed bug problem at home. Most of the illnesses involved headache and dizziness, pain while breathing, difficulty breathing and nausea and vomiting, according to the report. Many of those who fell ill were workers — such as EMS technicians and carpet cleaners — who visited homes but had not been told that insecticides had recently been used.

Most of the illnesses did not require medical treatment and resolved in about a day, Calvert stressed. But about 18 percent of cases were more severe and required medical attention, he added.

One associated death was reported: In 2010, a woman in North Carolina who had a history of heart attacks, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and depression died after her husband used too much pesticide to try to kill bed bugs. The pesticide turned out to be ineffective against bed bugs and was used inappropriately over several days — the woman even sprayed the pesticide, plus a flea insecticide, on her hair, arms and chest before going to bed, the report’s authors said.

In another case in Ohio in 2010, an uncertified exterminator used malathion up to five times a day over three days in an apartment to treat a bed bug infestation. The product used was not registered for indoor use, and so much was dispensed that beds and floor coverings were saturated, according to the report. The result: Children living in the apartment required medical help and were unable to live there again. The exterminator pleaded guilty to criminal charges, was fined and put on probation.

Calvert noted that the cases documented in his team’s report are most likely only a fraction of actual illnesses, since most people affected probably never reported their symptoms and got better on their own.

If consumers attempt to control the pests on their own, Calvert advised they first make sure that the pesticide they use is made specifically for controlling bed bugs. Second, they should read the label before using the pesticide and follow the directions carefully. In addition, people living in or visiting the treated space should be notified that a pesticide has been used before they enter, he said.

In some cases, professional help may be necessary.

Overall, the findings “draw attention to the necessity of effective bed bug control by a licensed, qualified pest professional,” said Missy Henriksen, a spokeswoman for the National Pest Management Association.

Because bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to control, eradicating them can require a partnership between a consumer and a qualified and licensed pest professional who will effectively inspect and treat an infestation, she said.

“Treatment may incorporate the use of professional-grade products as well as non-chemical measures such as heating or cooling rooms, vacuuming, laundering and disposal of items,” Henriksen said.