Monthly Archives: March 2013

Al limpiar correctamente prevendrá envenenamientos

 

 

 

Por Lina Younes

Entre los recuerdos más gratos de mi niñez figuran los momentos que pasaba en casa de mi abuelita en el Viejo San Juan. Mi recuerdo visitar su casa en una ciudad de una rica historia y arquitectura singular. Aún hoy en día cuando regreso a la Isla siempre aprovecho para pasear por la antigua ciudad y revivir tan gratos recuerdos.

Me recuerdo una vez cuando tenía unos 9 ó 10 años. Traté de ayudar a mi abuelita con la limpieza de la casa. Quería hacer una buena labor para que se enorgulleciera de mi esfuerzo. Empecé por mezclar varios productos
de limpieza ante la idea errónea de que  al usar más desinfectantes sería mejor. Hasta el sol de hoy se me ha quedado esa imagen de mi experimento de limpieza grabada en la memoria. Me recuerdo que uno de los detergentes era de color ámbar oscuro que se hacía blanco al diluirlo con el agua. El otro era un detergente sin color. Sin embargo, cuando hice la mezcla limpiadora, el líquido se convirtió en uno de color rojo brillante. Rápidamente lo eché por el indoro. Tuve suerte de que la mezcla química no estallara, pero era evidente que había producido una reacción química. Nunca sabré a ciencia cierta lo ocurrido, pero este historia me lleva al tema de esta entrada al blog de hoy: cómo prevenir los envenenamientos y exposiciones a sustancias químicas
dañinas.  La discussion es oportuna ya que estamos celebrando la Semana Nacional de la Prevención de Envenenamientos.

He aquí algunos consejos para prevenir envenenamientos en el hogar:

  • En la EPA solemos decir que “la etiqueta es la ley”. Lea las etiquetas cuidadosamente y siga las instrucciones cuando esté usando productos de limpieza y plaguicidas.
  • Como aprendí de mi experiencia personal, el mezclar detergentes no hará su casa más limpia. De hecho, el combinar detergentes o plaguicidas puede ser muy peligroso.
  • Siempre mantenga los productos de limpieza fuera del alcance de los niños y si es possible bajo llave.  Si está en el proceso de limpieza y recibe una llamada telefónica o alguien toca a la puerta, no deje los productos de limpieza desatendidos. Eso solo sería una invitación para que ocurriera un envenenamiento.
  • Como la mayoría de los envenenamientos ocurren en el hogar, asegúrese de que estos detergentes caseros y plaguicidas estén almacenados debidamente. Estamos incluyendo un listado de acciones que puede seguir para ayudarle en la inspección de su casa para la seguridad de su familia.

Si a pesar de sus mejores esfuerzos, alguien se expone accidentalmente a una sustancia química tóxica, llame a los centros nacionales de control de venenos donde hay personal que le responde en  inglés o español en
cualquier momento del día en cualquier ciudad de Estados Unidos, incluyendo Puerto Rico.

Acerca de la autora: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de EE.UU. desde el 2002 y se desempeña, en la actualidad, como portavoz hispana de la Agencia, así como enlace de asuntos multilingües de EPA. Además, ha laborado como la escritora y editora de los blogs en español de EPA durante los pasados cuatro años. Antes de unirse a la Agencia, dirigió la oficina en Washington, DC de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales a lo largo de su carrera profesional en la Capital Federal.

 

 

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Career Advice from Ed

By: Kelly Siegel

In college, I majored in Environmental Economics and had a Business minor.  I always enjoyed my math based classes, and wanted to learn how those courses could transfer to a career at the EPA.  I sat down with Ed Pniak to hear more about his role as a Financial Analyst for the EPA.

What is your position at the EPA?

I am a Financial Analyst, which means I manage grants.  My role is often referred to as a Project Officer. My main responsibilities include overseeing all water grants with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and projects funded under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

What is a typical day like for you?

Every day I am involved in the grants process, whether that be reviewing, monitoring a current project, or closing out a project. This could involve ensuring a budget for a new grant is fiscally responsible, confirming existing projects are meeting expected milestones, and reviewing final report for deliverables. I’m in constant communication with my state counterparts.

What is the best part of your job?

The balance of being able to manage the EPA’s resources responsibility and to help contribute to EPA’s mission through grant work.

Did you always have an interest in the environment?

No, but I did have an interest in the federal government.  I have always wanted to contribute to public service.  My interest in the environment has grown since being here. 

Do you have prior work experiences that lead you to the EPA.

I have worked in the private sector and for non-profits.  I also worked on a Presidential campaign team.

What classes did you take in school that you use on the job today?

I was an economic major, so I took a variety of economic classes including public sector economics and environment economics.  Every day type classes, such as basic math, business communication and writing and rhetoric are important for the grants process.

Do you have any advice for kids today who have an interest in protecting our environment?

Within the EPA there are a lot of skills and rolls people can play.  People with economics and finance knowledge are needed and fuel environmental protection.  Don’t be discouraged if you are not interested in a direct science.  You can still protect the environment!

Kelly Siegel is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for sustainable development, running, and traveling with friends.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Finding Environmental Justice in a Jazz Melody

By Carlton Eley

When I was a student studying urban planning, I always wondered what the outcome would look like when environmental justice was properly addressed during the community planning process.  This question nagged me for years because I wasn’t finding satisfactory answers in an academic setting.

Perhaps, the initial project that helped to answer this question for me is the 18th and Vine Jazz District in Kansas City, MO.  My first visit to the District was in 1998, shortly after finishing graduate school.

Mural of John “Buck” O’Neil juxtapose to the Monarch Apartments.

Historically, the area encompassing 18th and Vine was the heart of Kansas City’s African-American community.  When the community flourished, it was filled with businesses, schools, entertainment venues, churches, and recreational facilities.  Kansas City’s reputation for jazz music grew out of this community because of local artists like Count Basie and Charlie Parker.  The District is also the place where eight independent black baseball team owners met and formed the first African-American professional league in 1920.

When the trend of suburbanization took effect in Kansas City in the 1940s, 18th and Vine, like so many inner-city neighborhoods, experienced a period of decline that spanned nearly forty years.   In part, this trend produced the physical conditions that environmental justice proponents have documented and strive to correct:  brownfields; poorly maintained infrastructure; health hazards from lead and asbestos; lack of services; and the social inequality that stems from prolonged disinvestment and benign neglect.

By the late 1980s, the 18th and Vine neighborhood had lost much of its charm.  However, the memory of what made it a great place lived on in the citizens of Kansas City.  Although the community was distressed, some local leaders realized that resurrecting the distinct historic and cultural legacy of the District could help make the neighborhood come alive once more.

Charlie Parker Memorial Plaza

In 1989, the 18th and Vine Jazz District was created at the recommendation of Emanuel Cleaver, II, who was a city council member at the time.  Cleaver’s vision was to balance the goals of economic development and cultural development within the city. Historic properties were renovated, jazz and baseball museums were constructed, residential and commercial development was added, and the performance arts and the humanities of the District were designated as local treasures.  As a result, the City was effective in accounting for environmental justice considerations through protecting the cultural assets of African-Americans who left a unique impression on Kansas City’s landscape.

As an urban planner and environmental justice proponent, I am so glad Kansas City moved beyond the false choice of social responsibility versus economic imperative in the case of the 18th and Vine Jazz District.  What started out as an attempt to spread the benefits of economic development has evolved into a $70 million success story with tangible results.  Because of stewardship, the Jazz District is once again a celebrated destination that offers visitors and residents “an authentic experience.”

Carlton Eley works for the Office of Environmental Justice.  He is an urban planner, sociologist, and lecturer.  Carlton is credited for elevating equitable development to the level of formal recognition within U.S. EPA as an approach for encouraging sustainable communities.  He interned with EPA’s Environmental Justice Program in Region 10 as an associate of the Environmental Careers Organization in 1994.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Around the Water Cooler: Is Your Toilet Leaking?

By Sarah Blau

WHAT IS THAT NOISE?!? When I first moved into my apartment, I noticed a strange and persistent noise coming from the bathroom. On an exploratory mission, I fumbled around the various fixtures and plumbing only to discover that my toilet was leaking! Luckily, I caught the leak early and got it fixed.

Surprisingly, a leak like mine could waste up to 200 gallons of water a day! My water bill alone would have given me palpitations, let alone the knowledge that I was so carelessly wasting one of our very precious resources.

It's Fix a Leak Week!

Stories like mine are the reason this week is “Fix a Leak Week,” sponsored by WaterSense, an EPA Partnership Program. EPA and others are working to raise awareness about water leaks, to provide tips and information to water users, and ultimately, to reduce the waste of this life-sustaining resource. The WaterSense website provides some shocking statistics about the amount of water actually wasted each year as well as how you yourself can check for and fix household leaks.

Water lost to leaky plumbing is not isolated to inside homes and buildings. The aging water infrastructure of our country is awash with leakage problems as well. In fact, just this past Monday a water main break near Washington DC, spewed an estimated 60 million gallons, depleting local water storage tanks and initiating water conservation efforts for the neighboring communities!

EPA scientists are addressing this leakage problem this week and year-round. Researchers are working on new tools and methods to identify and monitor the weak points of aging water distribution systems. For example, researchers are looking at ways to assess water infrastructure for leaks without disrupting water supply for consumers (i.e. avoiding water shut-offs or pipe excavations). Other research is focused on preventing leaks from occurring, specifically, by examining the relationship between water chemistry and plumbing life expectancy.

As for me, I see Fix a Leak Week as a good reminder that our water resources are limited and we should work to conserve what we’ve got. Since my leak’s been fixed already, I’ll instead resolve to take shorter showers, turn off the tap while brushing my teeth, and work to spread the word by blogging (check mark that one!).

To learn more about this ongoing research, visit EPA’s Aging Water Infrastructure Research webpage, and read about one specific research project in the Science Matters newsletter: Problems with Pinhole Leaks in Your Copper Water Pipes.

About the Author: Sarah Blau is a student services contractor working on the Science Communications Team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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It’s All in the Mindset

By Kelly Shenk

At a recent farm tour I was on, a dairy farmer in Augusta County, Virginia said:  “Pollution isn’t related to size, it’s related to mindset.”  And the mindset of many farmers is one of innovation, creativity, and a thirst to find better ways to keep their farms profitable and local waters clean for generations to come.

Farmers compare notes at the Chesapeake Bay Agriculture Networking Forum

Farmers compare notes at the Chesapeake Bay Agriculture Networking Forum

The farm tour was part of the recent Chesapeake Bay Agriculture Networking Forum sponsored by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.  It’s my favorite meeting of the year.  It’s a chance for all the grantees who receive funding from the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to share their successes and lessons learned from their projects to restore polluted waters.  The room was filled with over 100 of the most creative thinkers from State agricultural agencies, conservation districts, non-governmental organizations, farming groups, USDA and EPA — all with a common interest in preserving our agricultural heritage, keeping farmers farming, and having clean local and Bay waters.  We all came to the meeting with the mindset that we can have it all through creativity, innovation, and strong partnerships that help us leverage funding to get the job done.

From all the energized discussions with the grantees and farmers, it was very clear to me that farmers are true innovators and problem solvers.  They have a can-do mindset in figuring out how they can run their business efficiently in a way that is good for clean water and for long-term profitability.  As this grant program has matured, so has our approach.  We are finding that there is no better way to sell farmers on ways to reduce pollution than to have fellow farmers and trusted field experts showing how innovative solutions such as manure injectors, poultry litter-to-energy technologies, and even the tried-and-true practices such as keeping cows out of the streams can keep them viable for generations to come.  I’m confident that this mindset will catch on and that we can achieve our common goals of thriving agriculture and clean waters.

About the Author: Kelly Shenk is the Agricultural Advisor for EPA Region 3.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The Future’s So Bright

By Jeffery Robichaud

I had the opportunity to spend some time a week ago helping to judge the 62nd annual Kansas City Science and Engineering Fair at Union Station, and represent the Agency at the Awards Ceremony at Bartle Hall (this was my view of the back of local newscaster Phil Witt).

There were well over 600 projects from over a thousand students spanning all of the major science and engineering categories (chemistry, biology, sociology, astronomy…but sadly no cartography, sorry Casey).  One of the categories was Environmental Science and Renewable Energy, which a team of folks from EPA helped to judge.  Projects were divided up into Senior, Junior, and Intermediate categories, so we split up into three groups  and naturally, I’ll split this up into three blog entries with some help from my friends.

I helped judge the Senior High Projects with two of my colleagues from our Superfund Division, Katy Miley, an On-Scene Coordinator and Chair of EPA’s Women in Science and Engineering program in Region 7, and Robert Webber, Superfund and Technology Liaison (STL) from ORD’s Office of Science Policy.  We had a really tough time selecting only three award winners from the roughly two dozen projects on display.

We awarded first place in the Environmental category to Paige Larison  from West Platte High School, in Weston MO.  Her project was entitled, Cracking Up and was an experiment that evaluated the use of a viscous additive to a fluid as an analog to the fluids used in the hydrofracturing process for energy production.   The project evaluated the potential to reduce the unintended migration of these fluids outside of the intended subsurface zone of focus.  The project was clear, concise, and well articulated and the results showed the potential to limit unintended fluid migration.  Pretty heady stuff for a high-schooler.

Second place went to Joseph Cokington of Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, KS and his project, Use of Organic Products to Reduce Corrosive Effects of Commercial Road De-Icers.  Joseph had a great project where he utilized oil derived from pine needles as an additive to deicing compounds in an effort to reduce corrosion.  Deicers themselves can have a negative effect on the environment, raising chloride levels in streams when snow eventually melts, but when automobiles rust, metals slough off and also find their way into streams.

Third place went to Triton Wolfe from Olathe North High School, in Olathe KS, whose project was entitled, Effectiveness of Indigenous Microbial Inoculation on the Organic Municipal Solid Waste Composting Process.  His project used experimental bioreactors comprised of fruit and vegetable waste to evaluate microbial activity.  The experiment used spectrophotometry, temperature comparisons, carbon-nitrogen ratios, and results from previous studies.    A detailed statistical analysis was performed.    Triton’s project showed the ability to increase the speed of the composting process by inoculating new compost piles with established compost pile materials.   Definitely a lesson those of you hardcore composters might consider applying.

It was difficult to pick just three from all of the projects, as the entire group was really fantastic.  Although this might have been a tough call for us, it is an easy call to say that our future looks bright with so many budding scientists and engineers.  Stay tuned for future blog posts with the Junior and Intermediate winners.

Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.  His one and only attempt at a Science Fair project in sixth grade ended up with unhatched eggs, a clandestine visit to a tack and feed store, and a guilty conscience (although thankfully since he won no award he was able to sleep that night).

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Proper Cleaning Prevents Poisonings

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Lina Younes

Among the fondest memories of my childhood was the time that I spent at my grandmother’s home in Old San Juan. I loved walking through the city with such a rich history and unique architecture. Every time I visit the Island, I take a stroll through the old city and memory lane.

I remember one day, I must have been around 9 or 10. I attempted to help my grandmother in cleaning around the house. I wanted to make her proud of my efforts. So I started mixing some of the cleaning products under the misguided notion that “more is better.”  To this date, I still have a very vivid image of my cleaning experiment. I remember one of the liquid cleaners was a dark amber color that when you diluted it in water it would become white. The other was some sort of clear liquid. However, when I made my cleaning concoction, it turned into a bright red! I quickly flushed the cleaning potion down the toilet. It was a good thing that it didn’t explode, but who knows what chemical reaction occurred! I guess I will never find out, but that leads me to the real subject of this blog entry: how to prevent accidental poisonings and exposures to chemicals. The issue is very timely given that we are celebrating National Poison Prevention Week.

Here are some tips to prevent accidental poisonings:

  • At EPA we stress the fact that “the label is the law.” Read labels carefully and follow instructions when using household cleaning products and pesticides.
  • As I learned from my experience decades ago, mixing products will not make your house cleaner. In fact, mixing cleaning household cleaners and pesticides can be dangerous.
  • Always keep cleaning products away from children’s reach. If you are in the process of cleaning and you get a phone call or someone knocks on the door, don’t keep the cleaning products unattended. That can be an accidental poisoning waiting to happen.
  • Since most poisonings occur in the home, make sure that you household cleaners and pesticides are properly stored. We even have a checklist to help you in a room-by-room inspection to ensure safety.

So, if in spite of your best efforts, someone in your home becomes accidentally exposed to a toxic chemical, please call the National Poison Control Centers at 1-800-222-1222. There are English and Spanish-speaking operators available round the clock anywhere in the United States, including Puerto Rico.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Aquatic Conservation Focus areas for EPA Region 7 – Part III

By Holly Mehl

This is my third blog covering EPA’s development of Aquatic Conservation Focus Areas for Missouri, performed in partnership with the Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership (MoRAP) back in 2006.  Excitingly enough, these areas are now being used by the Missouri Department of Conservation and other organizations around the state to help them plan and implement strategies that best protect Missouri’s most vital aquatic ecosystems (see figure below).  The fact that this work isn’t just sitting on the shelf is something our assessment team is proud of and is the reason I wanted to write a series of blogs highlighting it.

In the previous two blogs I laid out what we were attempting to achieve with each component of the assessment’s conservation strategy and I described the planning and assessment units we used.  For this blog I will cover the methods we used to quantify human stressors at the different levels of the aquatic classification hierarchy.  Obviously, human activity affects the ecological integrity of freshwater ecosystems, so this was an important part of the analysis.  But this got me thinking about my own personal connection to streams and the vital riparian environments that surround them.

Urban Kansas City is where I grew up, but Missouri’s beautiful Ozark Highlands region is where my family camped in summer.  Since my parents were school teachers and had summers off, I probably spent more time exploring the wilds than the average city kid.  The cold clear waters of the Ozarks streams and the woods around them were my play places and where I learned to love nature.  Eventually this love and appreciation led to studies and career in environmental science and to my position as Ecologist at EPA.  It undoubtedly also influenced my decision to purchase land in Missouri with the specific desire of owning stream-front property.  I now own 30 acres of rolling grassland with a headwater stream.

Since something like 93% of all land in Missouri is privately owned, what people do with, or on, their land is of great concern in the conservation arena.  I ask myself all the time how I can help mitigate the stress continually brought to streams within this stream’s watershed, which has rolling hayfield hills and lots of grazing.  It stresses me to know that in the process of trying to help the situation (i.e., converting my fescue to native grass and therefore helping native wildlife), I probably have also compromised the health of the stream.  I had herbicide applied several times during dry periods and never close to my ponds or headwater – as spraying rules dictate – but I cannot be entirely sure there weren’t negative impacts in some shape or form.

Agricultural impacts, including the use of pesticides, were incorporated into our development of a Human Stressor Index (HSI), work predominantly performed by MoRAP.  Working in consultation with a team of aquatic resource professionals, MoRAP generated a list of the principal human activities (stressors) known to negatively affect streams, and from it assembled the highest resolution and most recent geospatial datasets for each.  Stressor statistics were developed for each of the 542 Aquatic Ecological System (AES) polygons in Missouri and correlation analysis was used to reduce this overall set of metrics into a final set of 11 relatively uncorrelated measures of human disturbance.  The table below lists these along with relativized rankings developed for each.  A rank of 1 means a relative low disturbance level while 4 is relatively high.

The HSI value derived for each AES is made up of three numbers:  The first number reflects the highest ranking across all 11 metrics and the last two numbers reflect the sum of the 11 metrics ranging from 11 to 44, so it allows us to evaluate both individual and cumulative effects of the various stressors at the same time.  For example, a value of 418 indicates relatively low cumulative impacts (i.e., last two digits = 18 out of a possible 44), however, the first number of 4 indicates that one of the stressors is relatively high and potentially acting as a major human disturbance within that AES.

Note: Taken from MORAP report (EPA definition of CAFOs uses concentrated not confined)

The map below shows the composite HSI values for each AES in Missouri.  As you can see, south central Missouri shows the least human impacts, which is where I grew up during the summer months – lucky me!

Much more went into the human stressor index development than what I’ve mentioned here, such as how exactly professional knowledge was used to assign weightings and rankings, but I’ve gotten at the main gist of it for now.  Most importantly, this information was incorporated into the larger analysis made up of several more components such as the percentage of public lands in an AES, or the amount of target species present.  All of this will be covered in my next blog.  Stay tuned for that one next month.  In the  mean time, let’s not get too stressed out people!

About the Author: Holly Mehl is an ecologist for EPA Region 7 who helps with water monitoring in the field and performs mapping for EPA Region 7’s program offices when in the office.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Consejos para una limpieza más ecológica

Por Ashley McAvoy

¡La primavera ha llegado!  Los días fríos están llegando a su fin y pronto le daremos la bienvenida al renacer primaveral. Las flores empiezan a brotar. Las aves están cantando y las hojas de los arboles empiezan a retoñar. Es una imagen familiar para muchas personas y significa el comienzo de los días más largos, los picnics en el parque, paseos en bicicletas, y más que nada disfrutando el clima más cálido. Si usted es como yo, hay una tradición anual que comienza al principio de la primavera que no podemos ignorar: la limpieza de la casa. Sin duda, éste quehacer es muy tedioso  y consume mucho tiempo, pero es necesario después de los meses largos del invierno. Hay que limpiar el jardín, lavar el auto, desempolvar las cortinas, barrer el suelo, etc. Cuando Usted limpie su casa esta primavera, no se olvide de utilizar los productos limpiadores que sean los más seguros para su familia, el hogar, y el medio ambiente. He aquí algunos consejos:

Reutilice cuando sea posible

  • La basura de uno es el tesoro de otro. Dé su ropa no deseada  a una tienda de artículos usados u organización benéfica. Cuando reutilizamos la ropa y otros artículos, podemos reducir la cantidad de desechos que van a los vertederos.

Recicle todo lo que pueda

  • Siempre consulte con su centro de reciclaje para ver cuáles son las restricciones en su región. Algunas regiones no aceptan ciertos tipos de plástico o metal. Debe chequear al fondo de las botellas o atrás de los envases para el número de reciclaje. Este número le informa del tipo de plástico que aceptan en los centros locales.

Utilice los productos limpiadores que son seguros para el medio ambiente y su familia

  • Busque los productos limpiadores con etiquetas que indiquen que los productos son biodegradables,  beneficiosos para el medio ambiente , o no son tóxicos.
  • Evite los productos que dicen tóxico, corrosivo, irritante, inflamable, o combustible.

Conserve agua

  • Para regar el césped, considere el agua residual o el agua de lluvia. Típicamente, un hogar corriente usa 30% de su agua para regar el césped o el jardín. Al utilizar un barril de agua de lluvia, Ud. puede minimizar el agua desperdiciada y a consecuencia bajar la factura de agua. Aprenda más acerca de los métodos de limpieza más ecológicos

¡Buena suerte con todos los quehaceres!

Acerca de la autora: Ashley McAvoy está participando en un programa de prácticas en la Oficina de Comunicaciones de la Red por la primavera del 2013. Ella cursa estudios ambientales y estudios hispánicos en Washington College.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Real Progress on Environmental Justice

Cross-posted from  the CEQ blog; http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/blog

By EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe and CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley

All Americans deserve to have clean air to breathe, safe water to drink and healthy communities in which to raise their families. These things are an essential part of what it means to live in America.

But too often, America’s low-income and minority communities bear the brunt of the nation’s pollution. That also means that these communities are disproportionately affected by the many serious – and costly – illnesses that are linked to pollution, and that they are less attractive to the businesses and investments that help create thriving neighborhoods. And unfortunately, these groups often have little say in the decision-making process that can fix these inequities.

The Obama Administration is working to address these disparities. As part of an initiative led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Americans across the country are benefiting from new approaches by Federal agencies to ensure healthy, thriving communities.

In new annual reports, agencies show the steps they have taken to ensure they are meeting environmental justice goals, including engaging overburdened communities early and often in decision-making, integrating environmental justice into grant application processes and agency programs, and improving the tools and methods used to identify and address concerns. This work impacts areas ranging from education and labor to health services, housing and more. For example:

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is helping to provide green jobs and workforce development opportunities for veterans in low-income communities.
  • The Department of Labor is now translating educational materials and hazard alerts into Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese for non-English speaking workers.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is using Health Impact Assessments to proactively address the potential impacts a policy or project may have on overburdened populations’ health.
  • The Department of Education awarded $35 million in Promise Neighborhoods grants to create safe and healthy spaces for children and improve the educational and developmental outcomes of youth in distressed neighborhoods.
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), building on the America’s Great Outdoors Presidential Initiative, is studying the federal government’s urban assets and developing ways to promote work opportunities on public lands in urban areas.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture worked with American Indian, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities and intertribal organizations to meet information needs for protecting their communities from the impacts of climate change, including working with individual tribes on place-based responses to climate change that serve as models for future efforts.

Moreover, inter-agency collaboration is setting the foundation for even more progress. The Administration has reinvigorated the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice, and hosted the first-ever White House Forum on Environmental Justice to engage stakeholders from across the country. In addition, federal agencies, working together, have released an Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities and helped communities nationwide improve access to affordable housing, provide more transportation options, lower transportation costs, and reduce pollution through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

We are making great progress, but there is still much work to do. Across the federal government, we are committed to better serving communities burdened by harmful pollution, engaging these communities as we work to address environmental issues, and ensuring environmental justice is part of federal decision-making for the benefit of all Americans.

About the author: Bob Perciasepe is the Acting Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
About the author: Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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