cleaning

Spring Cleaning for a Healthy Home

By Lina Younes

As we see the first signs of the new season, it’s easy to get into the mood for spring cleaning around the house. We just want to open the windows, freshen the air, put away the heavy coats and signs of winter inside the home. During this process, we start thinking of giving a thorough cleaning around the house and even a fresh coat of paint or doing some renovations. How can we make sure that during this process, we are making our home environment healthier? Well, here are some green tips for your consideration.

Thinking of giving your kitchen or bathrooms a good scrubbing? Do you want to make sure that the chemicals that you are using are safe and green? Here’s a suggestion. Use cleaning products with the Design for the Environment label. (DfE). What is the DfE exactly? It’s an EPA partnership program. Those products with the DfE label have been screened carefully for potential human health and environmental effects to ensure that they are produced with the safest ingredients possible.

Another common spring cleaning practice? Painting! It’s an easy way to give a whole new look to home. However, if your home was built before 1978, it is very likely that it has lead-based paint. Lead is a toxic metal found in paints and buildings built before 1978 and it can cause serious damage to the brain, learning problems and even hearing problems. So if you are thinking about painting around the house or making some renovations, get some useful information on making these renovations safely or getting a certified contractor.

Thinking of some major repairs such as getting water efficient toilets or new household appliances? Look at products with the WaterSense label for greater water efficiency or Energy Star appliances to save energy, money, and protect the environment.

Over the winter, did you have problems with snow and a leaky basement? Make sure to correct the any mold problems and get proper ventilation to ensure good indoor air quality in your home.

So, do you have any grand spring cleaning plans in mind? Share your thoughts. We love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as EPA’s Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education. 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 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.

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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Designing Safer Products is No Accident

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By David DiFiore

I am the grandchild of an Italian immigrant, Olimpia Viglione, who, as a young woman keeping house for a living, severely damaged her lungs cleaning floors with harsh chemicals. As a result, she spent most of her life suffering with lung congestion and chronic bronchitis, often struggling to breathe.

EPA’s public health mission is something that strongly attracted me to the Agency. After learning the ropes of chemical evaluation and management in EPA’s New Chemicals Program, two colleagues and I had an idea: Why not evaluate chemicals we use every day, like those in cleaning products, as we do new chemicals?…and why not partner with companies interested in innovation and offer them recognition in exchange for making safer products? That idea had traction and eventually grew into the Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Labeling Program.

Do you recognize this symbol?

It is EPA’s label for safer chemical-based products. Products that carry the label must perform well and contain the safest possible ingredients, advancing EPA’s public health and environmental mission. DfE carefully reviews all products submitted for this special recognition against the stringent human and environmental health requirements in its Standard for Safer Products. Once a product passes the test and bears the label, consumers and institutional purchasers are empowered to select products that are safer for their families and pets, clients and co-workers, and the planet.

DfE-labeled products contain no carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxicants or chemicals that cause other harmful effects, including, close to my heart, lung effects and asthma. It’s comforting to know that because of labeled products other housekeepers and custodial workers need not suffer as my grandmother did. By replacing chemicals of concern with safer ingredients, labeled products reduce human and environmental exposures to potentially hazardous chemicals by hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

Close to 2500 products now carry the DfE label in an array of sectors, from all-purpose cleaners and laundry detergents to floor, carpet, car and boat care products. You can find a complete list of DfE-labeled products.

About the author: David DiFiore is a senior project manager in the Design for the Environment Program. He is a founder of the Safer Product Labeling Program and passionate about the potential of green chemistry to drive product innovation.

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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Celebrate the environment: Your holiday shopping list can be eco-friendly

About the author: Andrea Drinkard is Web Content Coordinator in EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

If you’re like me, when you go shopping the environment isn’t always the first thing on your mind. I’m always worried whether they’ll have my size or if it’s going to be on sale, but not necessarily what the environmental impact of my purchases will be.

On my last shopping trip, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye-a sticker that asked me to shop smart. Smart shopping doesn’t just mean finding the best deals, taking the most efficient route, or finding what you’re looking for as soon as you walk in the store. But it also means keeping the environment in mind while you shop.

With the holidays coming up and lots of shopping in my near future, I started to think how easy it would be to put Mother Earth on my gift list. I mean, a lot of the things I’m already doing to be eco-friendly at home, at the office or on the road could be done while shopping for holiday gifts. I take public transit to work; why not take it to the mall? I use the energy-save mode on my computer; why not buy one that has earned the new ENERGY STAR? I reuse and recycle at home; why not make a gift out of reused or recycled materials instead of buying a new one?

These small, but important, choices also have a positive impact on your wallet. Planning ahead to reduce the number of trips you take saves gas and saves you money. Buying ENERGY STAR products reduces your energy bill year-round. And that all adds up to a gift that keeps on giving.

So, this holiday season, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the environment by traveling, shopping, decorating and cleaning up in an environmentally friendly way. Check back with us at www.epa.gov this week and throughout the season to find out how you can turn your holiday green.

To see how others are being green this holiday season and to let us know what you’re doing, check out EPA’s question of the week about greening your holiday.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.