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Fix-a-leak to Keep Pests Out!

2014 April 8

By Marcia Anderson

While on an inspection of a school, I walked into a kitchen, flicked on the light switch, and  several cockroaches went scurrying back to their hiding places. We discovered that the cockroaches were flourishing due to water collecting under the refrigerator, a valve leak under the sink, and grease that had collected under the oven.

Did you know that water leaks can cause pest problems in homes, schools, and businesses? Most people are unaware of the association between plumbing problems and pests, but the fact is that the two are intertwined. If you have a leak, it will attract pests.  To get rid of pests, and keep them from coming back, you have to deprive them their basic survival needs: food, water, shelter. Did you know that German cockroaches can survive a couple of weeks without food, but they will die within a few days if they do not have access to moisture?

Where do pests get their water? Take a close look around your home for plumbing leaks in the laundry room, under the kitchen sink, below the dishwasher, and around all your bathroom fixtures. If you notice rust around your drain, fixtures, or valves, that is a clue that moisture is going where it shouldn’t be.  Cockroaches and other pests find drinking water in leaky pipes, dripping faucets, and gaps around pipes.  Fix leaky faucets by replacing worn washers in the kitchen sink and bathroom areas, and ventilate moist areas.  Remember that pests, such as cockroaches, like it damp. A leaky sink trap can create a moist pest paradise under your kitchen cabinets.

Sometimes plumbing leaks are due to old shut-off valves that are located under and behind the sink. Those need to be replaced because if the problem is ignored, what could have been a simple repair could develop into a bug oasis.

In the bathroom, make sure that there is a good seal around the water pipes where they enter the room from the wall. A good caulk seal assures that even the smallest insects can’t enter. Check grout around bathtubs and toilets. A poor seal around a bathtub can allow water into the surrounding floor and walls, and if the wax ring around the bottom of a toilet isn’t sealing properly, you could create a watering hole for critters every time you flush.

Be PestWise! Regular maintenance such as fixing leaks, are key components of a smart, sensible, and sustainable pest management program. Recognizing the value of pest prevention is an important first step. Drip, drip, drip goes the faucet … stopping those drips saves water, helps the environment, and protects you from pests. For more information on controlling pests in your home, school, or business visit: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/controlling/dosanddonts.htm

About the author: Marcia Anderson is with the Center of Expertise for School Integrated Pest Management in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs and a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Management at Montclair State University. Marcia supports the Center’s efforts to promote a smart, sensible and sustainable approach to pest control in the Nation’s schools.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Earth Month Tip: Power down

2014 April 7


Did you know U.S. households spend approximately $100 per year to power devices not in use? That’s roughly 8 percent of household electricity costs.

Nationwide, the total electricity consumed by electronics while idle equals the annual output of 12 power plants. Powering down electronics not in use will help save you money and prevent carbon pollution.

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

A Different Way to Connect

2014 April 7

By Curt Spalding

The calendar finally tells us that spring is coming and a long, cold winter is ending. With this welcome season of change and growth, we at EPA New England are excited to offer a new way for you to stay in touch with our office and get the latest updates on our work: our brand-new regional Facebook page.

We’re looking forward to finding new, creative, and interesting ways to broaden our environmental dialogue with our neighbors in New England, as well as with other citizens interested in how EPA works for a cleaner and healthier environment in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

While we’ve had a successful regional Twitter account for several years now, and we regularly discuss New England issues on the EPA blog, we’re only now joining “Facebook Nation” as a way to have a less formal discussion on New England environmental issues. Social media provides interesting and effective new ways for us to stay in touch with you, and vice-versa. We hope we can better explain EPA’s work to you: the citizens, who rely on our good work for clean water, good air quality, and healthful land. We’re interested in talking with you, not talking at you.

New England is home to intelligent people who care deeply about their environment. How could it not be so, when you consider our beautiful landscapes, ranging from the towering sand dunes on Cape Cod to the rocky coast of Maine, from the Berkshires to the Green and White Mountains, and everything from pastoral towns to major cities.

We hope you will check out both the EPA New England Facebook page and Twitter account. Let us know what you think, and please feel free to “Like” or “Follow” if you want to keep up to date on our work or view the latest terrific photo taken by one of our folks in the field.

About the author:  Curt Spalding is the Regional Administrator of EPA’s New England office, located in Boston.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Earth Month Tip: Take the Energy Star Pledge to Act on Climate

2014 April 6

A series of daily tips throughout April.

Pledge to act on climate with Energy Star. Join millions of Americans who have already taken small, individual steps that add up to a big difference in the fight against climate change.

 

Start with Energy Star to save energy and act on climate

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Earth Month Tip: Caulk and Weather-strip Around Windows and Doors in Your Home

2014 April 5

A series of daily tips throughout April.

Sealing air leaks around your home and adding insulation can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient while preventing carbon pollution. These simple fixes can provide up to a 10% savings on your annual energy bills. Simple jobs include installing weather stripping on doors and caulking around windows, while bigger jobs might include sealing leaks and adding insulation in your attic.

actonclimate5

Learn more: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_sealing&s=footer

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Earth Month Tip: Drive Smart

2014 April 4

A series of daily tips throughout April.

To improve your fuel economy and reduce carbon pollution, go easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations, reduce your time spent idling (no more than 30 seconds), and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you have a removable roof rack that is not in use, take it off to improve your fuel economy. Use cruise control if you have it, and for vehicles with selectable four-wheel drive, consider operating in two-wheel drive mode when road conditions make it safe to do so.

For more information, take a look at these tips for driving more efficiently. Check out www.fueleconomy.gov, to find the best, most comprehensive information on vehicle emissions and fuel economy.

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

A Home Page for the Social Media Age

2014 April 4

By Jeffrey Levy,

Here at EPA, we know that we can’t accomplish our mission without input and participation by millions of Americans, from rural communities and suburban neighborhoods to urban centers. We also know how important our Web site is for engagement and research. On our home page, we want to help you accomplish your tasks and stay informed, while making it easy for you to connect with us through social media.

We’ve decided to make a few design changes to enable visitors like you to more easily engage with us. It’ll go live in a few weeks, but we wanted to give you a preview.

We looked at heat maps (which show us where people click the most), popular search terms, and survey answers to give us ideas about specific updates to our home page. The attached image is the result. So, what’s coming? We added several new items to help you connect:

  • The banner at the top will continue to feature some of the most popular topics, as well as the biggest announcements, to help keep you informed about what we’re doing. This new design makes it clearer what topics are included.
  • Our regional offices now have a dedicated spot to provide you with announcements relevant to specific areas of the country. You can also jump straight to a page about your state.
  • We’re telling our story using multimedia: photos and videos that share how we pursue our mission of protecting health and the environment. We plan to use these elements with the banner and social media to provide multifaceted information about our efforts.

Dedicated features will make it easy for you to find us on social media, check our latest blog post, and follow us on Twitter.
At the same time, we’ve created a new area to help you learn what you can do to address some of the most critical issues. Below that, we provide direct links to some of the topics you search for most.

Ultimately, this new home page reflects our most important goal: to work together with you to improve public health and protect the environment.

About the author: Jeffrey Levy is EPA’s Director of Web Communications. He’s been with EPA since 1993, when he joined the agency to protect the ozone layer.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Earth Month Tip: Recycle

2014 April 3

A series of daily tips throughout April.

Did you know that recycling reduces carbon pollution? EPA estimates that our current national recycling efforts reduce carbon pollution by 49.9 million metric tons of carbon, which is equivalent to the annual carbon pollution from 39.6 million passenger cars!
Still, there’s more to do. Recycling in your home helps conserve energy and cut carbon pollution. Calculate how much energy you save when you recycle here: http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/iwarm/


More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Let’s Chat About How to Act On Climate

2014 April 3

By Jessica Orquina

It’s Earth Month and we’re hosting Twitter chats on Tuesday afternoons, starting next week. During each chat, we’ll have different EPA experts sharing information on climate change and what we all can do to act on climate. We invite you to join the conversation and ask questions. Here’s the schedule for our Earth Month Twitter chats:

  • April 8th 2:00pm EDT – What can I do to act on climate?
    We can all act on climate and make a difference. Our Energy Star team will discuss actions we can all take in our lives to reduce carbon pollution.
  • April 15th 2:00pm EDT – What is EPA doing to act on climate?
    Climate change experts from our Office of Air and Radiation will talk about President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and what we’re doing at EPA to act on climate.
  • April 22nd 2:00pm EDT – EPA Research and Climate: What does the research show about climate change and what we can do about it.
    Experts from our Office of Research and Development will be joining us for our chat on Earth Day.
  • April 29th 2:00pm EDT – Why is climate action important for our water?
    Our experts on climate change and water will be joining us to discuss how climate affects our lakes, streams, and drinking water.

How can you join the conversation? Just follow @EPAlive and the #ActOnClimate hashtag on Twitter. Ask us a question or share your ideas, or just read along with the conversation. In addition to using Twitter, we’ll publish a blog post for each chat, and you can ask your questions or send your thoughts as comments on the post.

Ready to get started? For next Tuesday’s chat, send us your questions and comments, either via Twitter using the #ActOnClimate hashtag or in the comments below. Talk to you on Tuesday!

About the author: Jessica Orquina works in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education as the social media lead for the agency. Prior to joining EPA, she served as a military and commercial airline pilot. She lives, works, and writes in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Earth Month Tip: Choose WaterSense

2014 April 2

A series of daily tips throughout April.

WaterSense is an EPA partnership program that helps consumers conserve water and save money without compromising performance. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient than their counterparts.

Did you know that using WaterSense labeled products could reduce a household’s faucet water use by more than 500 gallons annually? Upgrading to more efficient WaterSense labeled products can help us to save billions of gallons of water in each year, conserve energy and reduce carbon pollution.


Learn more: http://epa.gov/watersense/

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.