Vacuum Truck Cleaning Can Make Air Ducts Spotless!

Vacuum trucks have a wide range of uses in many industries and are probably most associated with cleaning out sewers and septic tanks. There is another use for this extraction vehicle that is becoming more widely known and that is the cleaning of air duct systems. Following is some basic information about this truck and its use in making home and work environments healthier.

Air Duct System Information

Most homes are equipped with air duct systems that allow for the circulation of heated and cooled air. It is all part of an energy-efficient home and work environment and modern design has created a much greater 'sealed' climate than used to be possible. Studies have revealed that the atmosphere inside a building is 4 to 7 times higher in pollutants than that outside of a building. Yet most people spend about 80 to 90 percent of their time inside buildings. As a result, the risk of suffering respiratory problems for both young and old alike is increasing.

Over a period of time, air ducts can become an arsenal of particles and substance that are dangerous to human health. These particles may include pollen, mouse droppings, animal dander, dust mites, fungus, bacteria, insulation, etc. Surprisingly, other materials can also be found inside the air duct system such as cans, pop bottles, toys, tools, paper, and other debris that further hinders the proper functioning of the system.

A poorly maintained air duct forces all of these possible contaminants into the building and is inhaled every time anyone takes a breath inside this structure. To ensure that the inside atmosphere being inhaled is clean; the duct system should be regularly cleaned and maintained.

Vacuum Truck Information

Vacuum trucks consist of a high-powered suction motor and one large container mounted on a truck chassis. The most common use for this versatile piece of equipment is for cleaning septic tanks as well as in municipal waste disposal fleets for street cleaning and sewer maintenance to name a few of the many tasks this vehicle can accomplish.

These vehicles are classified based on the following factors: type of material to be extracted; weight; capacity; and other items. The extraction system can be powered either from the vehicle's engine PTO (power take-off) or from a dedicated motor.

Cleaning the Air Duct System

Vacuum trucks have been used by companies offering their services to vacuum residential and commercial air duct systems. The equipment consist of a custom-built high-powered extraction system that removes anything inside the air ducts. Usage of a commercial high-powered truck-based cleaning arrangement allows for more effective and efficient removal of all debris and particles from the conduits that transport the heated and cooled air. This action eliminates hazardous material and particles that are dangerous to one's health.

The initial step is for a company performing such work to send a qualified and trained technician to access the main duct system for cleaning. Upon completion of the cleaning task, that company will conduct a final inspection to ensure that air duct system is properly sealed. They can also vacuum the furnace, coils and blowers to remove built-in dirt that reduces proper performance. This alone could reduce heating and cooling expense!

Do not try to attack the dirt in these conduits as a DIY project. Instead, use a company that can do a much more complete cleaning job with that powerful extraction vehicle known as the vacuum truck!

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Waste Water Treatment

70% of the Earth surface is covered with water. But only 1% of it is fresh water that can be used by living creatures. But the 70% being talked about is also a habitat to aquatic wildlife and fisheries. So, maintenance of these water bodies is essential on our part. It is our moral responsibility to ensure that we not only work towards the purification and conservation of the 1% fresh water but also target at preserving the entire water reservoir on earth. With growing industrialization, the environment has been suffering since a long time. Be it in the form of air pollution or water pollution, we have been risking the environment for our selfish needs. But is this risk really worth enough?

Can not we do something to reduce this environmental degradation? The answer to this is a definite Yes. We certainly can and should take steps to ascertain that we do not indulge in the activities that harm the environment. All major metropolitans of the world are facing a crisis because of water pollution. The industries release their wastes containing numerous minerals, salts, chemicals, solid waste and what not untreated in the water bodies. What a number of readers may not know is the harm these wastes pose on the environment. The fact is that such effluents not only harm the aquatic life including flora and fauna but also the fisheries reserve. Water is also used as a major sport. So, impure or dirty water distractors tourists affecting the economy of the tourist destination and this water can also become a breeding ground for various epidemic and endemic diseases.

To avoid all such calamities, it is essential to treat waste water before letting it out. For implementing this waste water treatment, plants have been incorporated by the industries producing waste that needs to be disposed off into water bodies. In these waste water treatment plants, initially the solid waste is filtered out including large polythene bags to tiny chemical particles. Macro-filtration and micro-filtration is done to remove the suspended solids. But still this water stays toxic.

Since this decaying waste in water body restricts the flow of oxygen into the deer layers of the aquatic life, waste water treatment also involves aerating or stirring up the infected and contaminated water to let oxygen flow back inside the water body. Under these treatment strategies, micro-organisms are also employed to remove contaminants from wastewater. Various techniques for waste water treatment are available and based upon a thorough analysis and evaluation, a suitable technique can be chosen depending upon the size of the water body and level of contamination.

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The Water Quality Test That The EPA Requires Does Not Make Your Water Safe To Drink

The Environmental Protection Agency requires that the water treatment facilities regularly perform a water quality test to determine if the water they are providing you is safe for you to drink. The truth is that even performing daily tests for microorganisms and high toxin and carcinogen levels is not enough to take public drinking water safe for human consumption. Let me explain exactly what I mean by this.

The Safe Drinking Water Act allows the EPA to issue two types of safe drinking water standards. The first of these are primary standards which regulate any substances which could negatively affect human health, and secondary standards are in place to regulate aesthetic qualities of drinking water such as appearance, odor, and taste. The EPA is really only successful in regulating secondary standards of drinking water.

The secondary standards are easy for the water treatment facilities to comply with, because all they have to do is control the amounts of the chemicals necessary provide you with clear, fresh tasting, and clean smelling water.

Primary standards issues are harder to control, because honestly the water quality test the treatment facilities perform for contaminants are a complete waste of time. They can not really do anything about the level of contamination in your water anyway.

Even if the treatment facilities find that contamination levels in your water are higher than what is allowed by the EPA, they can not do anything to really lower these levels. Service interruption can occur if levels are too out of control, but there are always going to be contaminants present in some measure.

This is important for you to know, because there is absolutely nothing that the treatment facilities can do to prevent drinking water tainted to some degree by contamination from entering your home.

A regular water quality test is not really very helpful, because the treatment facilities can not prevent the transmission of potentially harmful pollution into the public water system. Using the technology the treatment facilities currently have nothing of the same or less molecular weight of water can be triggered from passing through the system. Similarly, nothing of microscopic size can be filtered out either.

This fact poses a threat to the health of everyone who consumes water provided by the municipal drinking water treatment facilities. There is estimated to be as many as 80,000 individual toxic and carcinogenic chemical agents present in our groundwater and reservoir systems. In addition to these contaminants, there are toxic heavy metals and disinfectant resistant pathogens present in public drinking water as well.

No water quality test is going to protect your family from the negative effects of accumulating these harmful contaminants in your bodies, but there is something out there that can provide you with security.

The use of a home tap water purification filter equipped with a combination of activated granular carbon, ion exchange, and a sub micron filter can effectively make your water up to 99% contaminant free.

If you are not receiving municipal water but drawing your water from a natural source, then I suggest you have someone perform water quality test on your water.

No matter how the test comes back, I advise you to install a home tap water purification filter as well, because the contamination in our groundwater can affect you just as well as anyone else.

Sound advice if you want to remain healthy.

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How Is Water Quality Measured? – You Might Be Surprised

How is water quality measured? The truth is that it is not determined in such a way as to be of any benefit to a large majority of the population, and the basis for theories of “safe” levels of contaminants in water is flawed. The way that the EPA is figuring out what is supposedly safe for you and I will in all likelihood leave us vulnerable to a number of potentially serious illnesses and ailments.

The health threat posed by contamination in our groundwater system has been significantly played down by the EPA, who guarantee they are successfully providing us with safe drinking water.

The truth is that the water treatment facilities are doing just about all they can in order to prevent harmful contamination from reaching us, but there is actually almost nothing they can do to stop it.

The most effective method of removing harmful pharmaceuticals, chemical agents, chlorine resistant parasites, and toxic heavy metals is using proven, effective filtration methods.

The water treatment facilities are working with equipment that is old, and not up to the standards necessary to ensure our drinking water is clean. Only a complete overhaul of the system is going to resolve this problem, and that is not going to happen anytime soon.

This lack of the necessary filtering equipment has determined the methods being used to “insure” the highest quality drinking water possible.

The answer to the question how is water quality measured is that safe levels for toxic and carcinogenic contaminants is determined by the effect an individual contaminant would have on a man weighing 175 lbs. I think you can already see part of the problem here.

The vast majority of women young children fall below the 175 lb. “ideal”, which means that at their lower bodyweight contaminants are going to have a greater affect on them.

I also want to warn all of the men weighing 175 lbs. or more that they are also not safe from contamination in the water, despite the standard method for measuring safe levels for contamination might lead them to believe.

Since safe levels for contaminants are based on suspected effect of a single individual contaminant, the measurements are not realistic. Groups of chemical agents mix together in our water, so it is next to impossible for someone to only ingest a single chemical when drinking water.

When chemicals mix together each increases very in strength, and this factor has not been taken into account by the EPA.

If you want to ensure that the water your family is drinking is as pure as it can possibly be, then the only answer is the installation and use of a home water purification system.

By using a combination of sub micron filtration, ion exchange, and granular activated carbon, innovative manufacturers have developed a filtering system that will remove close to 100 percent of the harmful pollution in your water.

Now knowing the answer to how is water quality measured you can plainly see why getting on these home water purification systems should be one of your top priorities.

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Learn Just How Are Drinking Water Quality Standards Determined

How are drinking water quality standards determined? This is an interesting and very important question that far too many people do not know the answer to.

Those of us that live in developed nations tend to take for granted our water is perfectly safe for us to drink, but the reality of the quality of our drinking water is very different from public perception.

For some reason we have come to believe we are protected from the literal tens of thousands of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, toxic heavy metals, bacteria, and parasites present in our reservoir system.

To a certain extent we are protected, but not to the point that the Environmental Protection Agency and water treatment facilities would like us to think. You really have to take everything these sources tell you with a grain of salt.

I will admit these agencies have done a good job in stemming waterborne diseases through the use of chloramine disinfectants, but there are still dangerous parasites present in your water when it reaches your home.

Cysts are a special disinfectant resistant strain of parasites, and there is currently nothing the EPA or water treatment facilities can do about them. And, they really can not do much about anything else either.

How are drinking water quality standards determined? What the EPA has done is base their determination as far as safe levels of contaminants on what would be safe for a 175 lb. man to consume. Of course, this leaves everyone weighing less than 175 lbs out in the cold, and directly in dangers path.

This means most women and children have not even been taken into consideration when it comes to drinking water safety.

The truth is that in reality a 175 lb. man is not even safe from the negative effects of the contaminants present in our water, and this is especially true of chemicals. You can not base a safe level for consumption on an individual chemical, because there are multiple chemicals present in most people's home drinking water. Two or more chemicals together have a reaction which makes each of the chemicals infinitely more powerful.

What this means is that the supposed safe levels for each individual chemicals does not have any bearing on the effect each chemical is actually capable of having on the body.

You also must take into consideration that in addition to unreliable “safe” measures, the treatment facilities can not block any chemical agents or toxic heavy metals from entering the public water system. This guarantees members of your family are ingesting multiple contaminants with each glass of tap water they consume.

The best way to ensure that the water your family members are ingesting is safe is to install your own line of defense against water contamination. A quality, affordable tap water purifiers armed with activated granular carbon, ion exchange, and sub micron filtration is the answer to removal as much as 99.99% of the contamination currently present in your water.

How are drinking water quality standards determined? Not as wisely as they should be, and this is why a tap water purifier is the best solution you have to what has become a very serious problem with contamination in our water.

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The Boll Weevil Found A Home, Now What Do We Do?

Today finds the production of conventional cotton (nonorganic) second only to corn in the United States. In addition 10% of the world's pesticide usage is required to grow this crop …. And if Brook Benton's 1962 rendition of “The Boll Weevil Song” is any indication, the weevil is not only responsible for the destruction of the cotton crop during the early 1900's (1910-1920), but clearly responsible for pesticide formulation required to reestablish the industry.

…. the boll weevil called the farmer, 'n' he said

“Ya better sell your old machines

'Cause when I'm through with your cotton

Heh, you can not even buy gasoline

“Stake me a home, found me a home”

The boll weevil continued its devastation to the cotton industry between 1915 and the late 1950's, when the first highly effective controls (pesticides) were developed. The weevil was eradicated completely in 1995.

Here is where the real story of the boll weevil begins!

Barely recovered from the Civil War, the southeast and mid-southern states were hard hit with weevil infestation. 1917 brought the loss of a million acres of cotton farming when the weevil was discovered in Alabama. Unprepared to give up cotton farming, a crop that had served them well for generations, farmers continued to plant cotton. Unfortunately the boll weevil continued its devastating trek from Florida, north and westward. When home remedies, hand picking the adult bugs and burning the eggs in kerosene failed, pesticide formulators were brought in.

Insecticides, herbicides and pesticides confound our way of life!

The hidden costs of conventional, non-organic cotton production for which we all pay indirectly are born out in:

  • poisoned water water – we drink this stuff
  • contaminated soil – we grow our food in this stuff
  • polluted air – we breath this stuff

Let's turn this around!

Supporting the growing organic organic cotton makes us healthy. Just looking at the precedent list of crimes committed growing conventional cotton makes me advocate for:

  • big, fat, thirsty bath towels, free of chemical dyes
  • breathable, supple, absorbent underwear
  • cool, soft, long wearing bed sheets

Yes, opting for organic is expensive, and as I've indicated in prior articles, take “going organic” a step at a time.

Your initial purchases: towels, underwear, sheets, tee shirts, or any of the myriad of products manufactured from organic cotton will be an investment in your own health as there are no chemicals, dyes, or pesticide residue to interfere with your body's immune system . Equally as important, when purchasing organic cotton, you're paying for clean drinking water, healthy farmers, sweatshop free production, as well as promoting global economic progress.

News Flash: In 2007, with a single purchase, the largest retail conglomerate in the world, Wal-Mart, became the largest buyer of raw organic cotton. A step at a time.

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The New MSR MiniWorks Is Considered The Top-Seller Portable Water Filter

Backpacking through any wild country is an easy avenue for an adventure. Still, there's no harm in bringing along modern-day gadgets to keep anyone safe and protected while enjoying the outdoor experience. Wherever you may go and you just need a fresh clean drinking water, only the best product in the existing today can offer that, it's the state-of-the-art MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter. If you might be a serious backpacker, then you would surely appreciate the value associated with this lightweight portable water microfilter. Living off the land is actually such a good terrific adventure for you to have, however unfortunately, the wonderful outdoors is normally not really as pristine as it was.

This particular MiniWorks microfilter can be your recommended water purifier when you're thinking to have that outdoor adventure because it can clean water easily through rivers, wells as well as other various water sources. This ultra-portable water microfilter happens to be equipped with ceramic filters that will serve as the very first line of defense against harmful parasites and other bacteria in unknown outdoor water sources. With frequent cleaning, its ceramic filter will be able to filter up to 2,000 liters of clean or filtered water before it needs to be replaced. The good thing relating to the MiniWorks microfilter is having a new built-in indicator in order to notify users when it is time to change filter cartridges.

Aside of the particular cartridge, MiniWorks microfilter is considered easy to use as well as put together. You do not need to worry for losing its parts because the particular device has only six components that need to be assembled: these are the main pump with handle, hard plastic body, ceramic filter, bottom cap, filter wear indicator and the sixth is the feed tube. Most of these parts will snap together so there is no need to be worried about accidentally breaking or damaging its parts. The micro filter's tube has a float so it could pump water close to the water surface, and certainly not on the sediments at the bottom of the water source just like a river or perhaps a lake.

MiniWorks is not just handy but lite enough to be transported inside the backpack yet quite tough enough to basic contaminants found in outdoor water sources. With a filter pore size not less than 1.0 microns, this particular portable microfilter will get rid of just about 99 percent of bacteria found in the water together with almost 100 percent of particulates, parasites, along with some other common chemicals.

In connection to it, it has no aftertaste that is common to other water filter. Then again, the MiniWorks microfilter is not intended to sift through certain viruses, so it is advised to have an extra precaution and boil the water from the microfilter or just treat it with chlorine for your own safety.

Speaking about filtration, you can optimize the capability of your MiniWorks EX by always checking the filter periodically. If there is less water produced in the feed tube, then you need to clean the filter. Neverheless, do not overdo the scrubbing because it might destroy the purifier's filter and made it thinner that may cause cracks and even breaking it altogether. A free scrubbing pad is included inside the bundle of the MiniWorks package, but it's far better to ask your dealer to be sure. This MiniWorks EX microfilter is about a $ 100-a great value for a backpacker. Look for it in the Amazon to find less as well as more competitive price.

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Environmental Biotechnology – The Science Of Environmental Technologies Explained

In a span of just a few decades advances and new environmental applications of science, engineering, and their associated technologies have coalesced into a whole new way to see the world. Science is the explanation of the physical world, while engineering encompasses applications of science to achieve results. Thus, what we have learned about the environment by trial and error has incrementally grown into what is now standard practice of environmental science and engineering. This heuristically attained knowledge has come at a great cost in terms of the loss of lives and diseases associated with mistakes, poor decisions (at least in retrospect), and the lack of appreciation of environmental effects.

The '' environmental movement '' is a reliably young one. The symbolic works of Rachel Carson, Barry Commoner, and others in the 1960s were seen by many as mere straws in the wind. The growing environmental awareness was certainly not limited to the academic and scientific communities. Popular culture was also coming to appreciate the concept of '' spaceship earth, '' ie that our planet consistent of a finite life support system and that our air, water, food, soil, and ecosystems were not entirely elastic in their ability to absorb humanity's willful disregard. The poetry and music of the time expressed these fears and called for a new respect for the environment. The environmental movement was not a unique enterprise, but was interwoven into growing protests about the war in Vietnam, civil rights, and a general discomfort with the '' establishment. '' The petrochemical industry, the military, and capitalism was coming under increased scrutiny and skepticism.

The momentum of the petrochemical revolution following World War II was seemingly unstoppable. However, much of the progress we now take as given was the result of those who agitated against the status quo and refused to accept the paradigms of their time. In fact, we provide evidence of the validity of some of these early environmentalists' causes. A handful of cases were defining moments in the progress in protecting public health and the environment. It seems that every major piece of environmental legislation was preceded by an environmental disaster precipitated from mistakes, mishaps, and misdeeds. Amendments to the Clean Air Act rejected from deadly episodes such as were experienced in Donora, Pennsylvania and London, UK. Hazardous waste legislation came about after public outcries concerning Love Canal in New York state. '' Right-to-know '' legislation worldwide greater than the disaster at Bhopal, India. Oil spill and waste contingency plans were strengthened following the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. International energy policies changed, with growing anti-nuclear power sentiments, following the near disaster at Three Mile Island in the United States and the actual catastrophe at Chernobyl in Ukraine. Most recently, engineering and public health emergency response planning has been completely revamped in response to the events of September 11, 2001.

Certainly these can all be classified as '' environmental '' problems, but they represent new, societal paradigms as well. That is the tricky part of dealing with emerging technologies, including biotechnologies. Contemporary society has a way of disturbing problems upon us. Ironically, society demands the promotion of new and better things and processes, simultaneously demanding that scientists, engineers, physicians, and others in the scientific community adequately control the consequences of the very same technologies that members of society insist we use. For example, society may demand, reasonably or unintentionally, certain food characteristics (higher nutrition, less fat, attractive color). They may be quite happy with a product, until it is found to have actual or perceived negative characteristics. For example, the public may be pleased that the price of strawberries remains low and the texture of a high quality until they find out that the plants have been genetically altered to resist frost damage. However, this engineered character could have been the principal driver for the lower price and better texture. Likewise, cleanup of polluted waters and sediments can benefit from genetically altered beta bacteria and fungus to break down some very persistent contaminants, but the public may fear potential problems if these microbes somehow escape their intended use and find their way into unplanned components of the food chain . Prominent and infamous environmental problems have emerged as byproducts of some useful, high-demand enterprise.

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What Causes Lead in Your Tap Water?

The causes of lead in tap water are several. Here's a look at why metal, like lead, could be in your drinking water and the health problems caused by exposure to it.

• Naturally Occurring Lead

Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal. Like minerals, it is found in rocks. It gets into the rainwater as rain passes through the rocks. It may also be present in lakes, streams and rivers. Any freshwater or saltwater can be contaminated with it.

• Lead From The Pipes

The pipes in older city infrastructures, buildings and homes may be composed of it. Lead-containing solder was commonly used in plumbing systems until the practice was banned a few decades ago. In fact, the term “plumbing” is derived from the Latin word for “lead”.

As the pipes and solder degrades, passages of the heavy metal are released into the water. At times, the concentration has been high enough in some older cities of the US to cause the cities to turn off fountains and post health warnings.

• Lead Due to Degradation by Chlorine

The problem of lead in tap water would not be as bad was it not for the use of chlorine. Chlorine is a caustic substance. It eats away at pipes and solder points, greatly increasing the amount of metal that enters the water.

• Health Effects of Lead In Water

The greatest risk is to children. The substance is a poisonous metal that can damage the central nervous system, causing brain and blood disorders. Poisoning can lead to death.

Long term exposure to low levels of the substance can cause damage to the kidneys. The amount of lead in tap water varies very much. The amount often present is sufficient to cause high blood pressure and heart disease.

Stomach pain is a symptom of low level exposure. The liver is affected. While the central nervous system is the main target, any organ or system of the body can be affected.

Weakness in the fingers, wrists or ankles could be a symptom. Anemia can be caused by exposure. Miscarriages are associated with consumption of small amounts.

The link to development or cognitive deficits in children is the reason that lead-based paint was banned during the 20th century. Developmental delays, such as late puberty, are associated with exposure.

Some of the health effects may be reversible if exposure is stopped. But studies have shown that low level exposure during childhood can permanently reduce a person's ability to learn.

• Solutions That Work

Testing for lead in tap water must be done at the home. The tests conducted by public treatment facilities only take into account naturally occurring sources. The amount present in your home has to do with the amount present in the pipelines.

Testing can be expensive. It is actually more affordable to install a home purifier, especially since the lead in tap water is not the only contaminant homeowners have to worry about. In my next article you will learn about the available methods for removing the toxic substance.

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Mold Inspection: It’s Better to Be Safe Than Sorry

Have you ever thought of hiring a contractor to do a mold inspection of your home? How certain are you that moisture in your home is really regulated and controlled so that mold growth can be completely avoided? Yes, this is a very tough question to answer, especially if you do not even know what mold looks like or where they can be found. However, there is no doubt that mold may be all around us.

To put things in perspective, mold grows all over the place and can be present in our current environment, and since mold can be cleaned but not completely eliminated if not tended to properly, then this is a very important concern. If, for example, you keep your home untidy with damp areas, mold will grow and spread all over the place. Overtime, this will result in the production of allergens and toxins which can be very harmful to you and your family.

On the other hand if you keep your home very clean, how can you be sure that you do not have any mold growing on your carpet because you bring in your dirty shoes inside your home or maybe have mold in your air conditioning or even behind your walls that you can not see directly? Did you ever experience a time when you could not help but hear the sound of dripping water from your faucet? Maybe your bathroom is always closed tightly whenever you take a shower, not allowing the moisture to be released after running hot water. The result of this can be mold buildup in the bathroom which is also very unhealthy and may even cause skin allergies and breathing problems. Is not it time to get a mold inspection done by a professional?

Some of us can not afford to ignore molds because of hypersensitivity to such kinds of micro organisms causing allergies, running nose, skin diseases and many other reactions to the air. To add to this is being in an environment that they may think is actually clean but in reality is very hazardous to their health. Another great place where mold can grow and build up is in the air conditioner. This device needs to be cleaned every six months to avoid growth of mold and bacteria so that you can enjoy clean air on a daily basis. Some actually see signs of irritation on their skin or seem to always have a runny nose and find themselves sneezing all the time. All of these things need to be carefully considered if you want to live in a mold or a seemingly mold free environment so that your health is always protected.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to catch molds just by looking. Molds can grow in unseen places, and some molds can only be perceived after conducting a moisture test in specific areas. If you believe there may be mold growing in your home, it's best to seek aid from a professional to get a reliable assessment performed right away.

Mold inspection has become a very popular service. Yet not all mold inspectors can be trusted. Make sure your contractor complies with professional guidelines on inspecting and handling molds.

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Silicone Bakeware

Silicone products in the kitchen intrigue me. I have a nice little collection of silicone items: pots and pans with silicone-coated handles, a silicone spatula, a silicone lid for capping bowls or lid-less pans, baking mat – like parchment paper for baking or lining pans, hot pads , and silicone cookware. And I love them all. I like them enough I've recently added a silicone bottle – for traveling with liquids – to my silicone rubber collection.

So far most of the silicone I've experienced has been malleable and soft, the spatula being the most rigid of my collection. I'm thinking more rigid might be good for bakeware as a “reasonable” alternative to non-stick pans, or even stainless steel or glass pans. My silicone hot pads are a bit thick for grabbing things out of the oven, but they work nicely as a trivet; maybe my WalMart source was not the best and I can find thinner, more supple ones elsewhere.

Do not mistake silicone for silicon, the element. The term silicone is essentially a derivative of its formula. Variations of the formula give us variations of products that we are familiar with: glass aquarium joints, gaskets, grease for auto brakes, insulators (heat and electrical), caulk, tubing, spark plug insulation, bandages, breast implants, molds, toys, and cookware / bakeware. The list goes on and on.

Commonly I hear people express concern about silicone. They figure they'll learn about the health or environmental problems associated with using silicone. But those very people use non-stick (like Teflon) kitchenware, and that has reports of health and environmental issues. So, I made that question part of my research.

I found lots of evidence of silicone being safe to use. At least the Dow / Corning manufacturing approach is designed to be sustainable too, focusing on the environment, health, and safety / security issues. It's recyclable, though not biodegradable, and it does not offgas over its lifetime or while in use.

Silicone is made of polymers of silicon, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and sometimes other chemical elements (as in those found on the element chart). Those are all natural ingredients, not man-made chemicals; a plus in my mind. It has low chemical reaction, repels water, and is resistant to ozone, oxygen, and UV light. Furthermore, it does not support microbiological growth, and has low toxicity (does that sound like a hedged bet, or careful marketing, to you?). I'm comfortable with the material, given my research.

But, back to my cooking focus. Here are just some of the benefits I've found in using silicone in the kitchen:

  • dishwasher safe, unlike some metal and all wooden items
  • insulates my hand from heat construction on pots and pans
  • no more melted spatulas because of high cooking heats, like with candy
  • more resistant to food stains, like tomato or saffron sauces
  • long lived, unlike wood and rubber utensils
  • it keeps its “new” look much longer
  • no more shattering / breaking because of dropping it or adding cold water to a hot pan
  • I do not have to grease my baking pans, saving prep time
  • easy clean up
  • it does not take on odors or flavors of food, unlike plastic bowls I've used the past
  • non-stick, so no need for non-stick pans, which I got rid of years ago anyway

I mentioned the silicone bottle for my travels. I do like it because it's lightweight, not plastic, and it's squeezed. However, the lid does leak slightly, so I keep it in a tiny Ziploc bag while traveling, which is not a big deal to me. I got mine at REI, and suspect they are available at a variety of stores.

Heck, now that I've done this research to share with you about the benefits of silicone bakeware, I think it's time to expand my collection of silicone – for travel and cookware items. My list of goodies to pursue:

  • mixing bowls, aka pinch bowls
  • metal / silicone bundt pan and muffin pans
  • silicone cooking tongs

I have a ball whisk that my friend Brita bought me from Germany, and I love it. I see there is a silicone ball whisk available too, but would like to see it to understand if it's as good as my all metal German brand before adding that to my collection.

Silicone rubber products seem like safe and environment friendly items to use in your life, starting in your kitchen.

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Lead In Water Can Still Be A Problem Even In This Day And Age

You may not have heard about the subject for quite some time, but the problem with lead in water entering your home is still a very real problem. Steps have been taken to try and reduce the presence of this toxic heavy metal through a ban on the use of piping and other plumbing supplies containing lead enacted in 1986. The problem is that “lead free” does not exactly mean lead free.

“Lead free” plumbing supplies still contain measurable amounts of lead in them, and the solder or flux used in installation are only required to have reduced amounts of the toxin in them. Pipes and pipe fittings are required to contain no more than 8% lead, but even this small percentage is too much. This heavy metal is toxic to humans no matter how much we take in, and will have a cumulative effect on your health.

It is important to reduce the amount of lead water you consume as an adult, because many years of consuming this toxin can lead to problems such as high blood pressure and kidney disease. Infants and children who consume water containing lead are most affected. The problems they can develop include slow mental or physical development, attention span deficits, and learning disabilities.

Lead gets into your drinking water from the erosion of natural deposits, and the corrosion of your household plumbing system. The lead in your pipes leaches into the water during the corrosive process, which is a wearing away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between your pipes and water. Your water's acid levels, the types and amounts of minerals present and how long the water sets in your pipes all affect the level of lead contamination.

The only way to successfully guarantee reducing the amount of lead in water is to purchase and install a tap water purifier which has a special feature called ion exchange. The primary function of ion exchange is the removal of toxic heavy metals, while replacing these metals with minerals such as potassium. Ion exchange will also reduce the amount of chemical contamination present in your water.

Reducing the levels of chemicals in your water is just as important as removing lead, because there are thousands of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals present. These also accumulate in the body, and may cause you health problems down the road. Ion exchange will remove some of these chemicals, but only when combined with activated granular carbon can you ensure your water is naturally chemical free.

Lead water and chemical contamination are the primary threats to your health that your water contains, but there is another danger present as well. Cysts are chlorine resistant parasites that can cause you to become very ill if they are consumed. The answer to removing these cysts is sub micron filtration, which is a common feature in high quality tap water purifiers.

A quality water purifier that combines ion exchange, activate granular carbon, and sub micron filtration will significantly reduce lead in water, lead water, and everything else that threatens to cause you harm.

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The Truth About Plastic

Whilst plastic does have many handy uses it needs to be treated with caution when in contact with food. Chemicals can get into the food and cause health problems which will affect your immunity, change behavior, cause cancers and organ damage in fetuses and children.

Last year, phthalates and bisphenol A were banned in America from child care products and toys. These two substances are hormonal disabling chemicals which could interfere with the development of the child. Bisphenol A (BPA) is contained in many polycarbonate plastic products labeled as microwavable. This takes in a range of cutlery, linings for food containers, drink containers, baby bottles etc.

This chemical interrupts the body's normal hormones and copies the effects of estrogen. Rats in labs exposed to BPA suffer miscarriages, birth defects, mental retardation, early puberty, breast and prostate cancers, and reduced sperm counts. It also inhibits the formation of the hippocampus, or memory center.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in USA detected BPA in the urine of many thousands of people. Frederick von Saal, PhD, a professor of reproductive biology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has been researching this for 30 years and believes that they are a danger to our children and foetuses. He found only a small amount of the chemical is needed to alter cells. Other studies substantiate his work.

This is important because deterioration and aging of products causes chemicals to leach. Plastic baby bottles when they are boiled could leak chemicals which mirror oestrogen. This is why polycarbonate dishes and cutlery are so bad. So it is safer to microwave in glass or ceramic and to use glass or opaque, non toxic bottles.

Further to this we all know the problems of polystyrene sometimes used for cups and clear take away containers. These are bad as they can again leach styrene which is possibly carcinogenic into food causing damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and brain. Although only small doses are getting into your system it could all add up. This is why hot liquids and fatty foods as well as alcohol should not be drunk from styrofoam cups.

In USA meats and cheeses are often wrapped in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which contains plasticisers to make it more flexible. These chemicals are called adipates and phthalates and if they leach into hot fatty foods it has been shown that in mice they can cause birth defects, foetal death, and damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive systems. This is not the type of plastic in 'cling wrap' but it is important to not let plastic wrap touch food in the microwave. Better to play it safe.

It is also important to take note of what type of plastic bottles we are using as all soft plastics have the potential to leach chemicals into food and drink. Plastic bottles should not be reused as washing can speed up the breakdown of chemicals called adipates. Also heat from the sun can damage as much as the microwave so do not leave your water sitting in the car.

Plastics to avoid are polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, polycarbonate made from bisphenol A. However polyethylene terephthalate as used in PET bottles, high-density polyethylene used in milk and water bottles, low-density polyethylene found in wrapping plastic and grocery bags and polypropylene used in yogurt tubs and syrup bottles are much 'safer'.

Do you use plastic or other artificial substances which could be causing allergies and making you 'toxic'? Why not get tested?

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Is Your Home Killing You?

No matter how simple your home may be it is your castle, and it is an environment that you have the right to feel safe in. Most people go to great measures to make sure that their house is a safe environment for their family. It is common knowledge that many of the older homes contained many unsafe building materials that were health hazards and people did not realize the dangers. As the years have passed and the government has become more stringent on what materials can be used in homes, the health hazards have been reduced but they have not been totally eliminated.

One of the most common health hazards in a home, whether it be an old home or a brand-new one, is the existence of mold. Unfortunately people do not realize just how much danger there can be with mold. One of the most common places that it's found is in the bathroom area. It is most important to realize that there are a variety of different molds, and although mold is a part of nature and has its good factors, it does not belong in a home. It can cause health problems. It can cause simple symptoms that may not even be connected to the possibility that a mold problem is present. Fortunately there are professional companies that are trained and experienced at mold removal, and this type of job really should be left in the professional's hands.

Something else that is in the home and yet goes undetected because of its size is dust mites. No matter how clean a home is there is always dust that is going to be present and dust mites are always going to be a factor. However, there are steps that can be taken to help eliminate the quantity of dust mites. Knowing the potential hazards that they cause can send up the red flags that exists there is a dust mite problem in your home.

One of the most common causes of allergies can be as a result of dust mites. One of the favorite spots for dust mites of course is under any hidden area and in our beds and bedding. The simple use of allergy covers helps to reduce some of the potential damage that dust mites can cause. Vacuuming the mattresses and pillows is also a great way to keep them reduced as far as the bedroom goes.

These are just two of several very common potential health hazards that can affect your health. It is most important for individuals to become involved in educating themselves as to the common risks that can be found in the home, even if it is a new home. Aside from the children being the concern in a home, one also has to consider those that have ill health, or the elderly that may be more susceptible to the common risks that are in a home.

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Toxic Mold – Is It Even Real?

An industry seems to have sprung up over the past several decades to deal with the threat of toxic mold, but is it a real threat?

How Much of a Threat Does Toxic Mold Pose?

According to the CDC, it is not accurate to refer to black mold or any other type of mold as toxic. They explain that, while there are some molds which produce toxins, the molds themselves are not toxic. The hazards that they pose are the same as those posed by “normal” mold. The number of reports linking toxic mold to unique health conditions like brain loss and pulmonary hemorrhage are very small, and not enough to draw a link.

None of this means that mold does not pose a threat. It has been shown to cause problems in the primary respiratory track, particularly in people who already have asthma, allergies, or respiratory problems of one kind or another. Normally healthy people may cough or wheeze in its presence. There is some limited evidence suggesting that mold may cause otherwise healthy children to develop breathing problems, which is certainly enough to cause concern for most parents.

Should You Drop Everything and Run if You Find Mold?

Mold is everywhere. It will grow anywhere that moisture can be found, and Stachybotrys chartarum, which is typically the species referred to as toxic mold, is not rare at all. Spotting mold growing in your home is not enough of a reason to pick up everything and leave. There are some people who it may pose a health risk to, and others who may not be affected at all. The only way to address the situation is to see a doctor in order to determine if the mold is the source of the problem.

Removing Mold is Usually Easy

It is not usually as difficult to remove mold as many in the industry claim. In reality, most standard cleaning products will get the job done. You can use soap and water if you like. Many people recommend a bleach solution consisting of a cup of bleach to every gallon of water.

There are, of course, some materials which can become completely infected with mold. If tiles, drywall, or carpet become moldy through, they may need to be removed entirely. It is under these circumstance that you will need to contact a professional who can remove the infestation and repair the damaged area.

If you do choose to use bleach, which is not necessary, be sure to open the windows, do not mix it with any other cleaners, wear protective gloves and eye protection, and talk to to EPA if the area is larger than ten feet across.

The area must always be thoroughly cleaned and dried. Dead mold can still cause an allergic reaction, so it must be removed entirely. If moisture persists, the mold can return. If there is a continuous source of moisture, it may need to be addressed by a contractor who can fix the leak.

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