environmental impact

Drink Water To Survive The Heat!

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By Lina Younes

As I was watching the news last night on the ongoing extreme weather conditions this summer, I was struck by something the reporter said. Did you know that heat waves are the most common cause of weather-related deaths in the United States? Did you know that heat waves have caused more deaths in this country than other extreme weather events (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes) combined?

So, what is something we should do immediately to survive this extreme heat? Make sure that we drink plenty of water to stay hydrated!

The elderly, children and pregnant women are most susceptible to extreme temperatures. We should note that as part of the aging process, adults in their golden years tend to lose their sense of thirst. Thus, they are at a greater risk of dehydration and they are more vulnerable to environmental impacts.  On the other hand, children can easily become dehydrate during outdoor activities and they don’t recognize the symptoms of heatstroke. In children, what are some of these warning signs?

  • Decreased physical activity
  • Lack of tears when crying
  • Dry mouth
  • Irritability and fussiness

If you don’t drink cool water regularly, dehydration can lead to heat stroke which can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

What are some of the signs of heat stroke?

  • Skin is flushed, red and dry
  • Little or no sweating
  • Deep breathing
  • Dizziness, headache, and/or fatigue
  • Less urine is produced, of a dark yellowish color
  • Confusion, loss of consciousness
  • In adults, hallucinations and aggression

In addition to staying hydrated, stay in a cool place as much as possible.

How about people who have to work outdoors even during this extreme heat? They should try scheduling frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas. They should dress appropriately with loose, light-weight clothing and light colors. They should wear wide brimmed hats and sunglasses.

So, remember to drink cool water often. Enjoy the summer and stay safe. Do you have any recommendations on how to survive the heat? We love to hear from you.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual 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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Federal Agencies Leading by Example – The Federal Green Challenge

By Lana Suárez

When I joined the Federal Green Challenge team in October 2011, I had no idea what I was getting in to but quickly realized this dynamic group of regional staff was out to make a difference in the way the government does business. At first it seemed like a daunting task – how can we “green” the federal government when I can’t even get my coworkers to compost and recycle correctly?

Size makes it even more daunting– together, federal agencies have a big geographic and environmental footprint. The EPA alone has over 17,000 employees. So, how do we start to make a dent in this?

We start with a group of hard-working staff reaching out to federal agencies striving to make a change in our environmental impact. Then we find champions – dedicated human beings willing to go beyond their daily duties by: making sure employees double-side print jobs, power electronics down over the weekend, understanding teleworking is a transportation alternative. These are just a few innovative examples of creative solutions the federal government is using to “walk the talk.”

Many projects and initiatives throughout the country at federal facilities have been extremely innovative. Who knew that changing your facility cleaning routine – like switching a cotton loop mop for a microfiber version – could make such a huge impact on water and product usage?!?! Some facilities went to great lengths to investigate technological solutions to install solar farms on government property, subject to certain restrictions, to sell electrical power back to the grid. Others overcame major roadblocks (e.g., cost and culture) to upgrade and retrofit existing infrastructure.

These may seem like uncomplicated, quick decisions anyone could make to save a buck, but as federal employees know – these decisions can take time… lots of time… hours of meetings, and draft proposals and analyses and management approval, so any change is a major accomplishment! We know small changes add up to big results – helping the triple bottom line – social, financial and environmental benefits.

Folks with these ideas are our Federal Green Challenge champions – and we are happy to recognize them and share their stories of leading by example.

I am so proud to be a part of a team that can see these successes and even prouder to recognize all the hard work that has been going on to save money, improve people’s live and protect the planet.

About the author: Lana Suárez started with EPA in 2004 and currently works in the Office of Resource Conservation & Recovery. She started in this office because “waste is her passion.” Prior to joining EPA, she was an environmental educator in Nicaragua. She has a B.S. in Environmental Policy and Behavior from the University of Michigan.

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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Cigarettes: When did it become ‘OK’ to Litter?

By Kevin Hurley

The next time you are walking down the streets of NYC, take a moment to look around on the ground and actually count the number of cigarette butts that litter our city.  I performed this very activity this morning while walking down Broadway from the subway to the office building where I work.  On one side of one city block I counted 57 cigarette butts.  During my walk down this same city block I witnessed two individuals discard their half finished cigarettes onto the city streets.  Not surprisingly, no one seemed shocked or said anything regarding their actions, myself included.  So, when did it become ‘OK’ to litter?  Why does everyone get a “pass” when it comes to littering cigarettes?

(EPA Photo/Kevin Hurley)

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in America.  Most cigarette filters contain some sort of plastic, which can endure in the environment for long periods of time.  Nationally, cigarette butts account for one-quarter or more of the items that are tossed onto our streets and roadways.  According to the 2011 Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup, cigarette butts represented 32% of all debris counted.  Cigarette butts, traveling mainly through storm water systems, often end up in local streams, rivers and waterways.  Unfortunately, residents, businesses and local governments are usually stuck with the bill when it comes to cleaning up this litter.

Not being a smoker, I do not really understand the issues that smokers face when it comes to the decision of where and how to discard of cigarettes.  Is it a lack of ash receptacles, a lack of awareness of the environmental impacts, a lack of caring, a lack of motivation or some other rationale?  An individual’s decision to throw their trash on the ground, however you look at it, is still littering.

So I’ll ask my question again, when did it become ‘OK’ to litter?

About the author:  Kevin has been working as a Grants Management Specialist with the EPA since 2007, and is currently on detail serving as special assistant to the Regional Administrator.  He grew up in South Jersey, went to school outside of Baltimore, and received a Masters in Public Policy from Rutgers University.  Kevin currently resides in the Upper East Side of Manhattan where you can usually find him exercising or playing outdoor ice hockey in Central Park.

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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Question of the Week: What’s the single most important choice you make to reduce your impact on the environment?

Every day we make choices that affect the environment, both positively and negatively. Share your thoughts on what you think is the single most important choice you make to lessen your impact on the environment.

What’s the single most important choice you make to reduce your impact on the environment?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

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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