Three Ways the Oil Spill May Threaten Human Health

The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has many people fearing the environmental impact of pumping 210,000 gallons of toxic oil into a large marine ecosystem. But if the oil rig’s fluid-control systems fail, the expanding oil slick may also become a human health threat.

Little attention has been given to preparing for the worst-case scenario – a catastrophic failure of the BP Deepwater Horizon wellhead and fluid-control systems. Right now, the leaking oil pipes slow the amount of oil released by the rig. Should they fail, the oil slick could increase by 60,000 to 160,000 barrels per day – that’s the equivalent of one Valdez every two days.

Do Carpets Really Make Allergies Worse?

Many Americans worry that carpets can contribute to allergies and asthma, but studies suggest that it’s time to sweep those worries under the rug.

Allergens exist in every home. When inhaled, these allergens can cause an immune system response, which manifests as watery eyes, a runny nose, sinus congestion, conjunctivitis or hives. Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a common problem in children and adults. But the problem does not lie with carpeting. In 2002, Research Triangle Institute and University of North Carolina investigators studied two North Carolina schools — one with tile floors, and one with tcarpetst. The study found that airborne allergens existed in higher concentration in the school with tiles.

The Truth About Allergies and Carpet

<b>The Truth About Allergies and Carpet</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Many Americans worry that carpets can contribute to allergies and asthma, but studies suggest that it’s time to sweep those worries under the rug.

Allergens exist in every home. When inhaled, these allergens can cause an immune system response, which manifests as watery eyes, a runny nose, sinus congestion, conjunctivitis or hives. Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a common problem in children and adults. But the problem does not lie with carpeting. In 2002, Research Triangle Institute and University of North Carolina investigators studied two North Carolina schools — one with tile floors, and one with carpets. The study found that airborne allergens existed in higher concentration in the school with tiles.

Why? Carpet can hold a large amount of soil before it looks dirty. While it traps dust and dirt, it also holds potential allergens like mold spores and dander. Allergens cannot cause symptoms unless they become airborne and are able to be inhaled. Serving as a filter, carpet doesn’t allow allergens to enter back into the air. Once trapped, allergens can be easily removed with vacuuming and steam cleaning.

In a recent paper, Dr. Mitchell Sauerhoff, Ph.D., DABT, wrote that “with respect to asthma and allergies, multiple studies have reported fewer allergy and asthma symptoms associated with carpet.”

In addition to allergens, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may still cause some people concern about their carpets, but scientific evidence suggests that carpets emit very few chemical irritants. According to a study by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), carpet VOCs reduce so quickly that they do not pose a health threat. If concerned, consumers should look for low-VOC carpets like those made by Shaw Floors, which meet the CRI’s Green Label Plus standard, the most stringent standard in the industry for low levels of VOCs.

For more information, visit www.shawfloors.com/allergens.

Product Innovations Make DIY Painting Easy and Convenient

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – It’s a DIY world. Whether it’s to save a little money or just a desire to personally express one’s own style, more people are doing it themselves. And nowhere is the DIY trend more apparent than in interior painting. Now, thanks to some innovative product breakthroughs, what once was considered a chore is now a whole lot easier and convenient.

Goodbye to the Painting Season

For a majority of the country, painting projects were scheduled for the “honey-do” list only during months when it was bearable to keep the windows open rather than be fumed out of the house. With the dawn of low- and no-VOC paints, there’s no more putting off what can be painted today.

No-VOC paints, like Olympic Premium or the Freshaire Choice, contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are what cause paint to have such a strong and lingering odor. No VOCs. No smell. Feel free to paint whenever inspiration strikes, no matter the temperature or weather outside.

Release Your Inner Designer

If it’s as simple as covering the edges of a chair rail or as complicated as creating intricate stripes, keeping paint only where you want it is the key to professional-looking results. To keep the paint where it belongs, a good painting tape is a must. Look for a tape that adheres well, peels off cleanly and, most importantly, stops paint from bleeding under the tape.

FrogTape brand painter’s tape (www.frogtape.com) is treated with PaintBlock Technology, which allows the tape to absorb and retain liquid, forming a barrier between the tape and the paint. This technology helps to ensure clean, crisp lines, while limiting the time needed for touching up.

Sometimes It’s Best to Stick With the Classics

Yet, even with the best inventions, there is still no substitute for a good paint and roller to get the paint job done right. For latex paints, use a brush with synthetic nylon or polyester bristles. Natural bristles will absorb the water in latex paints, causing them to droop. Keep the natural bristled brushes for oil-based paint applications.

For larger applications, like walls, a roller is a great time saver, but again choosing the right one will make all the difference. For smooth or lightly textured walls, select a roller cover with a 3/8-inch nap. For rougher walls such as textured plaster or concrete, go with a 3/4-inch nap. Check out Wooster Brush (www.woosterbrush.com), which covers all nap lengths and offers most with a plastic core to help the roller remain sturdy throughout the paint project.

So, no matter the reason and no matter the season, if now is the time to DIY, rest assured, painting like a pro has never been easier. From start to finish, tools available today allow DIYers to create a pro look — without the pro.

Is the Air You Breathe at Home Healthy?

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Between working in offices, studying at school, exercising at the gym and relaxing at home, Americans spend most of their time indoors. But many people don’t realize that, in staying indoors, they face more pollution that they would outside.

Indoor air can contain viruses, dust mites, formaldehyde, radon, pet dander and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pollutants that aggravate allergies. But in understanding four key air quality components, Americans can ensure a healthy, sustainable home.

1. Moisture Control. Too much moisture can lead to mold, while dry air can cause skin and respiratory problems. Controlling humidity allows the HVAC system to work more efficiently, so homeowners pay less in energy bills. Choose automatic, whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers. For example, Aprilaire’s Model 1750 Central Dehumidifier’s built-in intelligence provides automatic control for not only whole-home dehumidification, but also for fresh air ventilation, air cycling and air filtration.

2. Ventilation. Without air circulation, allergens, odors, moisture and other pollutants cannot leave the home. Ensure air flow with a mechanical ventilation system, which will use fans and ducts to circulate fresh air.

3. Air Filtration. Central air filters permanently remove airborne contaminants. In a recent standard industry test, the Aprilaire 5000 achieved 99 percent efficiency against airborne particles. The unit captures and kills virtually all contaminants, including viruses, bacteria, mold spores and allergens.

4. Energy Efficiency. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), using efficient heating and cooling systems, leakless ducts and thermostats that are programmed to save energy at night or when residents are away would prevent 169 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions a year. The EPA says that a programmable thermostat can save you up to 30 percent on your energy bills.

For more information, visit www.aprilaire.com.

Home Inspections: Maintaining The Value of Your Biggest Asset

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Job insecurity and a falling real estate market have left many homeowners feeling unsettled and wary. But, in having your home annually inspected by a Certified Environmental Home Inspector (CEHI), you can give your home a much-needed advantage in a dismal housing market.

As the green movement becomes more widespread, more homebuyers will see “Healthy Green Living Certification” as an added incentive to buy. These inspections, created by Environmental Service Professionals (ESP), perform:

– Moisture and mold inspections.

– Energy audit inspections

– Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) inspections

– 203-point standard home inspections

– Indoor air quality inspections

CEHIs also cover allergen screening, radon, lead testing and other environmental testing as requested by the homeowner. These inspections can find problems in the home before they necessitate more costly repairs. For example, a mold and moisture inspection can reveal wet or damp areas caused by roof leaks or cracked pipes, a problem that costs insurance companies $3 billion every year.

In addition to retaining property value, ESP is currently working with mortgage lenders to provide interest rate discounts for those homeowners who finance 10 years of annual inspections in their mortgages. To save homeowners even more money, ESP is working with insurance companies to give annual discounts on homeowners’ insurance policies to those who participate in the annual inspection program.

By having their homes inspected, families will be working toward protecting their investment and their health, but ESP is hoping to make a difference in another way. Currently ESP is working to create jobs for our veterans to ensure that U.S. soldiers are able to make a better transition to serve local communities upon their return. ESP is also in the process of hiring disabled veterans as customer service representatives.

For more information, visit www.espusa.net, or for a free phone consultation, call 888-525-CEHI(2344).

Inspections Ensure Healthy Homes

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Homeowners often assume that their homes are healthy — but indoor spaces can be more heavily polluted than the air outside.

Poor indoor air quality can seriously impact health. Many chemicals, including formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are often found in homes and offices, can contaminate indoor air, leading to allergic reactions or chronic illness in certain individuals.

Poor indoor air quality has been linked to a number of ailments, including cardiovascular stress, asthma, fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, impaired coordination and respiratory disease. Individuals with known conditions, like allergies, respiratory ailments and chemical sensitivities, or people who spend a lot of time indoors, such as children, women, seniors and the disabled, experience elevated risk.

Homeowners want to guarantee that their homes won’t hurt their families, and some companies have perceived a need. Environmental Service Professionals, a company that provides Certified Environmental Home Inspections for allergens, mold, radon, home energy tune-ups and other issues, has recently started a new program, USA Healthy Home Warranty (USAHHW). Previously, home inspections could not guarantee that the home would remain healthy after or between inspections. USAHHW aims to create peace of mind even after the inspector leaves.

The USAHHW program provides warranty assurances against defects that occur in the home one year after the inspection. The warranty can even provide up to $100,000 in aggregate coverage limit.

The USAHHW offers homebuyers and homeowners protection against specific intrusions, like mold and moisture, which can affect human health and a home’s habitability. Mortgage lenders can also use the inspections to protect the value of their assets.

For more information, visit www.evsp.com.

New Survey Helps Consumers Improve Their Eco-Awareness

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – At some point in their life, nearly everyone will take a step back to admire a newly painted or carpeted room in their home or that brand new car in their driveway. In fact, according to a recent survey, three-quarters of respondents admit that they love that “new car” smell, and more than two in five say they enjoy the smell of new carpeting. But as enjoyable as these smells may be, are people really aware what’s under their noses?

The truth is, the recognizable smell of a new car or fresh coat of paint actually comes from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). The new survey, conducted by FLOR, a manufacturer and marketer of design-inspired carpet tiles, found that 91 percent of Americans are concerned about the environment, but only 10 percent say they are familiar with VOCs — and why they are unsafe.

VOCs are harmful gases released by everyday household items, including paint, carpets, cleaning supplies, aerosol sprays, air fresheners and some cosmetics. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air consistently contains 10 times the amount of VOCs as outdoor air. Given that Americans typically spend 80 to 90 percent of their time indoors, many people face prolonged exposure. The problem? VOCs can lead to asthma and other respiratory problems.

While an overwhelming majority, 91 percent, of respondents expressed concern about the environment, 61 percent reported that they throw unwanted carpet in the trash or place it on the curb for someone to take, according to the recent FLOR survey. What people fail to realize is that it can take 50 years for wool to break down in a landfill, and 250,000 years for man-made fibers, like nylon and carpet backing, to completely decay.

The FLOR survey also uncovered that a small percentage of people actually opt for some of these other disposal solutions, with only 15 percent of consumers choosing to recycle their old carpeting, and 25 percent choosing to donate it to others. But, FLOR is doing its part to offer people a more responsible alternative. Consumers can participate in the company’s environmental efforts through FLOR’s Return & Recycle Program, where old FLOR tiles can be returned to be recycled into new product. Many FLOR products contain renewable or recycled materials and meet the Carpet and Rug Institute’s (CRI) Green Label Plus standard for VOC emissions.

“FLOR has always been a believer in providing smart solutions for the home,” says Greg Colando, president, FLOR. “We want to help consumers understand the range of eco-friendly issues and products out there when it comes to renovating or updating home décor.”

For more information, visit www.FLOR.com.