Tag Archives: health & safety

9 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening

Gardening can play a significant role in a healthy lifestyle ? and not just because of any fruits and vegetables you grow. Even if you don?t have the greenest thumbs, you still can enjoy the benefits. Here are nine surprising ways gardening can boost your health.

1. It uplifts your mood

A growing body of research has linked being around nature to stress relief and an overall improved mood. And it seems gardening falls under that category. A study on gardening and stress had participants complete a stressful task before assigning them either to 30 minutes of gardening or 30 minutes of indoor reading. Both groups experienced drops in their cortisol levels (the stress hormone), but the gardening group had much more significant decreases. Plus, gardening managed to restore the participants? positive moods after the stress task had brought them down, but reading did not. ?These findings provide the first experimental evidence that gardening can promote relief from acute stress,? the study says.

2. It can strengthen your immune system

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More research is demonstrating how playing in the dirt can be good for your health. A study on immunity found evidence to support the notion that exposure to microbes, especially at a young age, helps to strengthen the immune system and prevent diseases. And another study from Johns Hopkins Medicine corroborates those findings. It found that early exposure to dirt, dander and germs can lower a person?s risk of allergies and asthma. Just remember that dirt also might contain bacteria and parasites that can make you sick. So avoid touching your face with dirty hands, and wash them as soon as you?re done gardening.

3. It promotes brain health

Gardening also has the potential to improve your brain health. A study on dementia recruited 2,805 people age 60 and older who had no known cognitive impairments and followed them for 16 years. Ultimately, there were 115 men (out of 1,233) and 170 women (out of 1,572) who developed dementia during that time. But the researchers noted that those who engaged in daily gardening lowered their risk of developing dementia by 36 percent. In comparison, daily walks dropped the dementia risk by 38 percent for men, but interestingly there wasn?t a ?significant prediction? for women.

4. It?s good exercise

Gardening may help you relax, but it?s also a pretty good workout. Cleveland Clinic qualifies gardening as ?moderate? exercise ? akin to walking or riding your bike, depending on the intensity. And research has catalogued several health benefits of gardening, especially for older adults. A study on seniors found daily physical activity, including gardening, cut their risk of a heart attack or stroke by up to 30 percent, as well as prolonged their lives. And another study on gardening and older adults concluded that gardening was an ideal way for seniors to stay in shape. It specifically helped them maintain their hand strength and dexterity. Plus, at any age, caring for something that?s living can be a helpful motivator to get up and move.

5. It helps you eat healthier

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According to Harvard Medical School, gardening can play a helpful role in maintaining a healthy diet. Just by the nature of what you grow, it can lead you to eat more fruits and vegetables. You also can prevent unhealthy fertilizers and pesticides from getting in your food. And you get to enjoy the benefits of freshly picked produce. ?Vegetables that ripen in the garden have more nutrients than some store-bought vegetables that must be picked early,? Harvard Medical School says. Plus, a study on gardening and diets found people who gardened when they were children were likely to eat more fruits and vegetables later in life. So put those little green thumbs to work.

6. It can be a positive social activity

Social interaction is important for your health and well-being in many ways. ?Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index,? Mayo Clinic says. Plus, a social group can give you a sense of belonging, help you cope with trauma and encourage you to make positive choices. And if you?re an avid gardener, working in a community garden might be the perfect fit. One study found people participating in community gardens had significantly lower BMIs ? as well as a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese ? than others in their neighborhoods who didn?t garden. The researchers also found some of the benefits extended to the gardeners? families, as well.

7. It exposes you to vitamin D

We all need vitamin D ? from the sun and our diets ? to keep our bodies healthy. And though it?s important to be careful about exposing your skin to the sun, gardening still is a prime way to keep your vitamin D at an optimal level. A study on vitamin D deficiency found regular gardening (as well as outdoor cycling) lowered the likelihood that older adults ? whose skin often has more trouble synthesizing vitamin D ? would become deficient. Interestingly, people who engaged in brisk outdoor walks did not experience the same benefit.

8. It?s eco-friendly

Tending to a home garden can be an eco-friendly activity and help to combat climate change. And a healthier planet means better health for all of us. A guide from the National Wildlife Federation offers several tips on environmentally friendly gardening. For instance, it recommends trading your gas-powered lawn tools for electric- or human-powered ones.?Stay away from fertilizers and lawn chemicals?to help prevent water pollution. Plus, be conscientious about what you plant. ?Gardeners can play an important role in minimizing the threat of invasive species expansion by removing invasive plants from the garden and choosing an array of native alternatives,? the National Wildlife Federation says.

9. It gives you a sense of purpose

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Regardless of whether you have a single plant or an entire field, gardening is an ongoing responsibility. And that can give you a sense of purpose and nourish your spirit. Just ask NASA. To combat feelings of isolation, lower stress and break up monotony, NASA’s Human Research Program has experimented with astronauts growing plants in space. ?The countermeasure to sensory monotony is sensory stimulation,? according to NASA. ?Working with plants provides astronauts visual, tactile and olfactory stimulation, and eventually even salivary stimulation with fresh foods and variety.? And even astronauts ? whose job already is out-of-this-world ? found significant meaning in the work. ?Several astronauts agree that the ability to watch plants grow, and to play a part in their growth, provides a strong connection to something bigger than their immediate surroundings,? NASA says.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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9 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening

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15 Spring Cleaning Tips for a Healthy House

It?s the most refreshing time of the year. Yes, spring cleaning season has rolled around again. And even if you have no intention of making an official spring cleaning to-do list, there are still certain parts of your home that probably could use a serious cleanse. Here are 15 spring cleaning tips that can help make your house a healthier place to live.

1. Get some fresh air

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Many of us can?t wait to throw open our windows in the spring. (Sorry to those with spring allergies.) And your house might desperately need that ventilation to reduce indoor air toxins that built up during the winter months. Natural ventilation has the ability to reduce lung-related illnesses by up to 20 percent, according to the World Health Organization. It also helps with moisture control, which hinders mold growth. If you can?t open windows, some other ways to improve indoor air quality are to bring in some houseplants, invest in an air purifier, limit the products you buy that contain VOCs and simply remove your shoes at the door.

2. Declutter

Decluttering isn?t just for Marie Kondo fans. Getting rid of unnecessary possessions can do wonders for anyone?s health and wellbeing. According to Mayo Clinic, a tidy house can decrease stress, improve energy, spark creativity and leave you feeling happier and more accomplished. Plus, that organization can trickle into other areas of your life. For instance, you might be inspired to adhere to a healthier diet or a more structured workout plan. So jump on the decluttering bandwagon this spring, and start tidying up.

3. Check expiration dates

As you declutter, make a point to look at expiration dates on any products that have them. Spend a day taking inventory of everything in your fridge and pantry. Get rid of food that?s past its prime, and plan to use anything that will expire soon. Plus, check the expiration dates on medications and first-aid items, household products and even any fire extinguishers you have in the house. It should bring you some peace of mind knowing everything is in working order.

4. Be picky about cleaning products

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Before you really get down to spring cleaning, take inventory of your cleaning products to be sure you have the tools you need for a healthy house. Consumer Reports recommends closely reading the labels of any store-bought products and adhering to their instructions. ?A label with the words ?poison? or ?danger? indicates that some ingredients are toxic if ingested; one with the words ?warning? or ?caution? means there are ingredients that could be dangerous if swallowed,? Consumer Reports says. Even better, learn to make your own natural cleaning products that are better for your health and often your wallet, as well. You might already have many of the items you need right in your kitchen.

5. Dust often-overlooked spots

Let?s be honest: There are parts of our homes we often skip with the dust cloth, as they can be tedious or difficult to clean. But a dusty house can have several consequences for our health. So as the season changes, prioritize dusting all those overlooked spots ? blinds, baseboards, the tops of doors and cabinets, shelving, fan blades, etc. ?You can fit a pillowcase around the fan blade, and use it as a dust rag,? HGTV recommends. ?Any dust that falls will land into the pillowcase rather than on the floor or furniture below.?

6. Deep-clean rugs and upholstery

It?s also ideal to give your rugs and upholstery a good cleaning to remove dirt, dust and other allergens that have settled in them. If you?re able, move your furniture, so you can reach all of your flooring to clean. HGTV even suggests making this the time of year when you invest in steam cleaning your carpets. ?An annual steam clean helps to lift stains and refresh the fibers in high-traffic areas,? HGTV says.

7. Thoroughly wash windows

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Before you throw open those windows for the spring season, make sure they shine. Wash the insides and outsides, getting between screens and the glass. If you?re feeling especially ambitious, head to the exterior side to knock down any debris and cobwebs around your windows, so they aren?t trapping pollen and other contaminants near your open windows. Plus, freshen up your screens for the season, especially if they?ve been sitting idle (and dusty) all winter. ?To quickly clean screens, use a scrap of carpeting,? HGTV says. ?It makes a powerful brush that removes all the dirt.?

8. Disinfect trash cans

If you?ve never cleaned your trash cans, well, it?s probably time. It?s not a pleasant chore, but it will ensure that your cans are odorless and bacteria-free. The Kitchn recommends using a clean toilet brush and your preferred disinfecting spray to scrub down the inside of a trash can. Then, rinse, tip it upside down and allow it to dry thoroughly before you use it again.

9. Detox the refrigerator

A clean fridge is a healthy fridge. Besides killing any mold and bacteria, detoxing your fridge also removes spoiled food from the equation that could get you sick. Simply use your favorite natural disinfectant on the interior (and exterior). HGTV suggests working one shelf at a time, so you don?t have to remove the entire contents of your fridge all at once. ?Every time you go to the store, make it a goal to clean a single shelf before you pile in new groceries,? HGTV says.

10. Degrease the stove and oven

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Cleaning grime off stoves and ovens can take a bit of elbow grease. But the good news is you don?t have to resort to any toxic cleaners or even your oven?s potentially dangerous self-cleaning function. Simply create a paste of baking soda and water, and coat the dirty areas, The Kitchn says. Let it sit preferably overnight, and then wipe up the paste. Finally, spritz a little vinegar on any leftover baking soda, which will bubble, and wipe it away.

11. Make faucets shine again

Hopefully, sanitizing faucets is part of your regular cleaning routine, as they?re a prime spot for germs to live. But there are some parts of faucets that tend to accumulate buildup over time. For lime buildup, HGTV recommends placing a vinegar-soaked towel over the spot and allowing it to sit for about an hour. That should make the deposits easier to wipe off. Likewise, check your showerhead for any mineral deposits, which can affect its performance. ?Keep the jets in the nozzle clear and clean by misting the showerhead with a mixture of 50 percent white vinegar and 50 percent water,? according to HGTV. ?Allow it to sit and drip for a few minutes and then wipe it clean with a dry cloth.?

12. Cleanse the bathroom

Use spring cleaning as a reason to finally tackle any mold and mildew lurking in your bathroom. Try a spray bottle filled with white distilled vinegar, which is highly effective on its own in killing mold. For a more pleasant smell, you can add a few drops of essential oils ? or even some tea tree oil, which is an antifungal itself. And if you have a shower curtain (and liner), simply throw it in the wash with a cup of vinegar to kill mold and mildew.

13. Refresh the bed

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A spring refresh might be just what your bed needs, especially if you have allergies. You should wash your sheets and pillowcases at least weekly, according to The Spruce. Pillows should be washed about every one to four months, depending on whether you use a pillow protector. And if you use a duvet cover, the duvet itself probably only needs to be washed a couple times a year, so spring cleaning can be one of those times. Plus, throw your mattress cover in the wash (ideally do this monthly), and give your mattress a good vacuuming to remove dust and dirt. Then, relax and breathe a little easier in your sleep.

14. Hunt for home repairs

The spring cleaning season is a prime time to spot any potential repairs your home might need. So as you move about your cleaning tasks, keep an eye out for damage. ?Investigate all doors and windows for leaks and drafts, particularly near the corners,? HGTV recommends. ?Look for peeling and chipping paint, which can signal water intrusion.? Try to take care of any issues as soon as possible before those spring showers and hot weather complicate matters.

15. Pace yourself

Just because it?s called spring cleaning, it doesn?t mean you have to get everything done before the flowers fully bloom. Divide and conquer your to-do list, while being mindful that some of these jobs can be pretty physically taxing. Do what you can. Pace yourself. Check off the tasks that are most pressing. And remember to stop and smell that fresh spring air.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How Can You Protect Yourself from Electromagnetic Radiation?

Research has shown that electromagnetic radiation can pose various health risks, such as an increased risk of cancer, miscarriage?and depression. And we?re surrounded by electromagnetic radiation on a daily basis.

Electromagnetic radiation refers to energy produced from a source, such as light from the sun, microwaves from an oven, or your cell phone?s signal.

You?re likely exposed to some form of electromagnetic radiation almost constantly, but you can still do a lot to protect yourself from any potentially negative effects. Let?s take a closer look at this issue.


Electromagnetic radiation is a type of energy that travels and spreads out as it moves. It?s composed of a stream of particles called photons that move in wave-like patterns at the speed of light. Each photon has a certain amount of energy, but no physical mass.

The photons of radio waves are fairly low-energy and move in long wavelengths, which puts them at the low end of the electromagnetic spectrum. As you move up the spectrum, microwaves have more energy, then visible and ultraviolet light from the sun, and x-rays and gamma rays have the highest amounts of energy.

Electromagnetic radiation is classified into two different types:

Ionizing radiation ? includes mid- to high-frequency types of radiation, such as ultraviolet radiation, x-rays and gamma rays. Ionizing radiation has enough energy that it can remove electrons from atoms and molecules of air, water and living tissue as it passes through them.
Non-ionizing radiation ? includes low- to mid-frequency types of radiation, such as radio waves, microwaves and cell phone signals. These are not able to remove electrons from atoms or molecules, but they are strong enough to heat up substances and are proven to have a biological effect on human cells.


It?s well-established that prolonged exposure to ionizing electromagnetic radiation can cause cellular changes that can lead to health risks such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, radiation sickness and genetic damage.

Because non-ionizing radiation is weaker than ionizing radiation, its effects tend to take place over longer periods. But it can still be just as damaging after many years of exposure.

A large volume of research over the past three decades has linked non-ionizing radiation to an increased risk of developing certain cancers, Alzheimer?s disease, immune system dysfunction and free radical damage to DNA.

Even the World Health Organization has stated that technology that emits low-level electromagnetic fields (EMFs), such as cell phones, ?is too recent to rule out possible long-term effects?.

In their publication Establishing a Dialogue on Risks from Electromagnetic Fields, the WHO goes on to say that, ?Given the widespread use of technology, the degree of scientific uncertainly, and the levels of public apprehension, rigorous scientific studies [of EMFs] and clear communication with the public are needed.?


1. Keep Your Distance

Electromagnetic radiation is strongest at its source. For example, cell phones, microwave ovens, baby monitors, smart meters and Wi-Fi modems all actively create and emit electromagnetic radiation. So, the farther away you are from these active sources, the less radiation you?ll receive.

Try some of these suggestions for keeping your electronic devices at a distance:

Hold your cell phone or cordless phone away from your head when talking. Most cell phone manuals state that you should keep your phone at least 15 millimeters (5/8 inch) away from your head when using it. Also, use speakerphone or text when you can.
Avoid putting your laptop on your lap. Try to use a secondary keyboard and mouse to give yourself some distance.
Keep your modem away from your living spaces. When possible, have your modem installed in the least-travelled corner of your home.
Stand back from your microwave when it?s operating. Some microwaves can leak a small amount of radiation when they?re on, so it?s best to give them some space until your food is done.

2. Get Wired

Wireless signals provide a constant source of electromagnetic radiation, so try using wired devices as much as possible. Yes, using wires is annoying. But if you?re on your devices for many hours a day, it will significantly cut down your exposure to electromagnetic fields.

Try using a wired headset when talking on your cell phone, using an ethernet cable for your computer, or wired headphones for your MP3 player.

3. Watch Your Time

More time spent around electronic equipment will mean more exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Working around electronics is hard to avoid, but consider some unplugged activities in your free time.

Instead of watching a video on your computer or television, try going for a walk or getting together with friends instead. Chances are you?ll have more fun than watching that video anyway.

4. Unplug

Even when you?re not using many electronic devices, they?re still producing electromagnetic radiation. Wi-Fi modems emit signals continuously, and even computers will still have a weak electromagnetic field around them when they?re in ?sleep? mode.

Get in the habit of turning your modem off at night when possible. Also try having as many of your electronic devices on power bars that you can switch off when they?re not in use. This will also help you conserve energy and save money on your power bills.

5. Remove Electronics from Your Bedroom

You spend a lot of time in your bedroom, so keeping it as clear as possible from electronics will greatly reduce your exposure. Electromagnetic radiation is also shown to disrupt melatonin and sleep, which makes it especially important to keep it out of your sleeping space.

Remove any unnecessary wireless devices, unplug any screens for the night and above all, don?t take your cell phone to bed with you.

6. Stay Healthy

It?s known that electromagnetic radiation causes oxidative stress on your cells and increases free radical concentrations in your body. Under normal circumstances, your body should be able to repair this damage.

But, if your health is compromised, your body won?t be able to deal with the effects of prolonged electromagnetic radiation exposure. Over time, this oxidative stress can take a toll on your health.

Maintaining your health and eating a diet rich in antioxidants and nutrients will support your body and naturally protect against any potential damage from electromagnetic radiation. Try including these antioxidant rich foods in your diet or spending more time in nature to naturally boost your health.

Related on Care2

What Is Dirty Electricity and Is It Harmful?
Study Links Cell Phones to Brain Cancer
What Is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Fragrance Your Home With a Simmer Pot

Theres nothing like walking into a delicious-smelling room, is there? Humans have a natural affinity for fragrant scents. Its why we buy things like scented candles, incense and potpourri. Unfortunately, some methods of scenting your home are better than others. Scented candles may seem lovely, but burning them can release harmful chemicals into your environment. And let’s not even get intoair fresheners.

For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma, South Carolina State University professor Ruhullah Massoudi explained.

An Alternative to Scented Candles: The Simmer Pot

Thankfully, there are safer alternatives. Essential oils, organic vegetable-based candles and reed diffusers are a few options. If you have a full kitchen, you might want to try scenting your home with a simmer pot.

Making a simmer pot is really simple: You just simmer a concoction of good-smelling ingredients (think citrus peels, herbs and spices) over a low boil for a few hours. You can also add the ingredients to a slow-cooker. Youre basically scenting your home in the same way you do when you cook, but youre cooking combinations of ingredients that are designed to produce a particular scent.

Spring Simmer Pot Recipes

For fresh, spring scents, focus on citrus and zesty herbs. Try one of these combinations on for size:

Sliced lemons with rosemary, cinnamon and vanilla essential oil
Anise, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon with lavender essential oil
Orange and lemon peels with cranberries and cloves
Grapefruit with rosemary, eucalyptus, shredded coconut and vanilla essential oil

The exact ratios will be up to you! Dont be afraid to get creative either. A good rule of thumb is to combine your favorite citrus fruits (usually 2-3 whole fruits will suffice) with a few sprigs of your favorite herbs in a pot of water. Then finish the concoction off with 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil. Bring the mixture to a simmer, turn the heat to low, and enjoy! Just be sure to keep your eye on the pot so you can add water as it evaporates.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Fragrance Your Home With a Simmer Pot

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Growing Good Air: Houseplants for a Healthier Home

We breathe 10 to 20 thousand liters of air per day. With this much air going in and out of our lungs every second, it is vital to make sure we are breathing in good air all day. We are so used to hearing the expression go out and get some fresh air,” but why not bring some of that fresh air inside? Or better yet,createit inside! And not just any air. But air that can actually remove toxic gases and chemicals from your home environment! Thats correct air that can actually remove VOCs including formaldehyde and benzene.

Listen to my Green Divas @ Homesegment about creating a better indoor environment for your healthy home . . . then read on for more!

NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) released the findings of a 2-year study suggesting, in addition to what some plant physiologists already knew: plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen as part of the photosynthetic process (hence, the fresh air image on the can). Get your beakers ready for a brief lesson in biology. As you may know, plants directly absorb carbon in their life-dependent process, photosynthesis. By taking in carbon dioxide and converting it to oxygen during photosynthesis, plants and trees naturally remove excess carbon from the air. During photosynthesis, foliage also removes from the atmosphere other chemicals, such as nitrogen oxides, airborne ammonia, some sulfur dioxide, and ozone that are part of the smog and greenhouse effect problems. Plants also affect air quality by acting as collection sites for dust and other air particles. So, by adding plant to your environment, you are cleaning up your indoor air and helping the planet.

Heres where it gets exciting! In addition, these researchers (including Dr. Bill Wolverton, formerly a senior research scientist at NASA) have found many common houseplants absorb benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, as well. In the NASA study, each plant type was placed in sealed, Plexiglas chambers in which chemicals were injected. The results surprised everyone.

Plants take substances out of the air through the tiny openings in their leaves, according to Wolverton. But research in their labs has determined that plant leaves, roots and soil bacteria areallimportant in removing trace levels of toxic vapors. Did you know that one potted plant per 100 square feet will clean the air in an average office? Although not a replacement for anair purifier, the NASA studies generated the recommendation that you use 15 to 18 good-sized plants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality in an average 1,800 space. But, not justanyplant of course a certain 50 plants in particular! And, the more vigorously they grow, the better job theyll do for you, so keep em watered!

You may be staring at the little wilted plant on your windowsill or desk wondering if it made the list or not. If youd like the entire Top 10 list, you can find it in our book,Just GREEN It!But for now, I want to share the Top 5 plants according to the study that are most effective in removing: formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air. These include:

Areca Palm
Lady Palm
Bamboo Palm
Rubber Plant
Dracaena Janet Craig


Listen to the latest full episode of theGreen Divas Radio Show

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Growing Good Air: Houseplants for a Healthier Home

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Which is Deadlier: Guns, Cars or Air Pollution?

According to the CDC,Americans are now as likely to die from a car accident as they are of gun violence.In about 21 states, people are actually more likely to die from gunshot wounds than from vehicular accidents. This is a sobering statistic. But even more sobering is the fact that Americans are far more likely to die from air pollution than from an unfortunately placed bullet or car crashes combined. Look at these numbers:

2014 deaths by car: 10.3 per 100,000

2014 deaths by guns: 10.3 per 100,000

2014 deaths by air pollution: 70 – 130 per 100,000 (Baltimore had the highest rate at 130)

The numbers, of course, vary from year to year, but about 30,000 Americans die in car accidents, 30,000 Americans die from guns, and200,000+Americansdie annuallyfrom air pollution.

Let’s put these statistics into real numbers for one state. In a recent year, Utah lost 256 people to car accidents, 260 people to gun violence and about 1300people from air pollution.

So, where is the outrage when it comes to America’s dirty air?

The problem is when someone dies from a gunshot wound or car accident, the cause is obvious, not to mention often graphicbut with air pollution, death usually creeps up insidiously and ambiguously Essentially no one lands in the morgue with a toe tag that says died of air pollution. Instead, the cause of death is listed as heart attack, asthma, lung disease, stroke, SIDS or cancer. But the result is the same lives cut tragically and unnecessarily short.

Equallytragically is that we know air pollution kills, yet we do not do everything we can to clean-up our air.

We let big industrial polluters and trade associations bully us into thinking we must choose between a strong economy and clean air, which is a false choice. In fact, the EPA has shown that for every dollar spent on pollution mitigation and prevention, $30 to $90 of economic benefit is returned to local communities. Just think of the worlds richest nations versus the worlds poorest nations. Who has cleaner air? Clean air and wealth go hand-in-hand.

As long as we accept dirty air and its accompanying mortality, we will have dirty, stinky air. But when we stand up together and say the birthright of every child to breathe clean air trumps the rights of industry to pollute, then we will have clean air.

To get involved with the national clean air movement join Moms Clean Air Force and to see one state, Utah, get serious about cleaning up their air, visit the Utah Moms for Clean Air. Extra-motivated? Start your own grassroots clean air group and help fight for the air we all share.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.


Which is Deadlier: Guns, Cars or Air Pollution?

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Everyday Items That Could Contain Lead

Contaminated water is not the only way we areexposed tolead. This toxic metal lurks in a wide variety of products that we’d otherwise think were harmless.

One exposure one time isn’t going to cause a problem, of course, especially at very low levels. But repeated exposures over time from multiple sources could create a threat, especially to young children whose brains and organs are still developing, and to pregnant and nursing women. Here are some of the most commonand least expectedways we may be exposed to lead on a daily basis.

Paint – Lead used to be added to paint, both what we used to paint our homes inside and out, and also the paint that was used in offices, schools and industrial buildings. The use of lead-based paints for homes, children’s toys and household furniture was banned in the U.S. in 1978. But lead-based paint is still on walls and woodwork in many older homes and apartments, reports the Mayo Clinic. Most lead poisoning in kids results from them eating lead-based paint chips.

Household Dust – Homes that have lead-based paint on the walls, doors and window frames often have lead-contaminated dust. Kids wouldn’t eat dust en masse, but they’d pick it up on their hands when they crawl around on the floor. It can also get into their food, and anyone can inhale fine lead-tainted dust particles.

Water Pipes – Even if the source of the water isn’t contaminated the way it is in Flint, Michigan, the pipes and plumbing fixtures in your home could be soldered with lead, and that can release lead into tap water.

Imported Canned Food and Imported Hard Candies– Though lead solder is banned from canned food produced in the U.S., it is still used when food cans are made in some other countries. Lead can also be found in wrappers used on imported candy.

Toys – Imported toys may contain high lead levels that are especially dangerous for the kids who play with them and might chew on them. Blocks, dolls and action figures may be painted with lead-based paint, and little metal pieces may be held together with lead solder. Cheap toys sold in vending machines and large volume discount stores are often contaminated as well, reports the New York Department of Health.

Traditional remedies – Lead is a naturally occurring metal that comes out of the earth’s crust, so remedies made from some herbs could be contaminated. The Mayo Clinic warns against using azarcon or sea coral, which is a Hispanic remedy for upset stomach and other digestive ills; litargirio or litharge, a powder used as a deodorant in the Dominican Republic; ba-baw-san, a Chinese herbal remedy for babies suffering from colic; and daw tway, a digestive aid used in Thailand that contains high levels of lead and arsenic.

Soil – Lead paint and dust can settle into the soil surrounding a painted building, then get easily picked up when it’s walked on or when kids play in it. I was shocked to discover high lead levels in the yard where my kids played because the garage next door had been painted, sanded, repainted and sanded many times over. All that dust and flaking paint settled right in my garden and yard!

Pottery, ceramics, china or crystal – Glazed terra cotta pottery often contains lead. It’s beautiful, but shouldn’t be used for food. China and crystal may also be made with lead. If you make pottery or stained glass or refinish furniture, the products you use could also contain lead.

Eyeliner and lipstick – Kohl is a traditional cosmetic used as a dark eyeliner. It also may contain very high levels of lead. Be wary if you use kohl that is imported from the Middle East or India.Studies have been finding lead in lipstick for years, reports Mother Jones. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found lead in 61 percent of products tested.

Venison and other wild game – People can be exposed to lead by eating wild animals that were shot and killed with lead shot and lead bullets. “Recent research indicates that small lead fragments are often present in venison from deer harvested with lead bullets,” reports the New York Department of Health. “These particles of lead can get into your body when you breathe or swallow, and lead dust can get on your food and other items that you eat, drink, or put in your mouth.”

Vehicle batteries and other industrial uses – The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that approximately 804,000 workers in general industry and an additional 838,000 workers in construction are potentially exposed to lead, primarily as a result of the production, use, maintenance, recycling and disposal of lead material and products. Exposure also occurs during renovation or demolition of structures painted with lead pigments.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

The Centers for Disease Control offers these helpful suggestions to prevent kids from lead exposure.

If you suspect your home is painted with lead paint, do not try to remove it yourself. Use a trained lead contractor, whom you can find by going here.

Choose what you eat very carefully. Avoid imported canned food and candy and wild game unless you can somehow verify it is lead-free.

Choose cosmetics and personal care products produced in the U.S. or Europe, rather than in Asia, the Middle East or South America. You can also buy eye make-up and lipstick specifically formulated without lead.

Contact your local water utility to find out how and when they test for the presence of lead in the water. You can also get a Lead Check Test Kit to test yourself on solid surfaces.

How to Tell if Your Water is Contaminated with Lead
Lipstick is Full of Metal and Lead: Why Use It?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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