Boston.com reported today some great news for Massachusetts consumers that will hopefully inspire some standard-setting for other states.
After a year’s worth of haggling with the state’s utility companies, Massachusetts officials today unveiled a set of ambitious energy efficiency standards that some say are unequaled in the nation.
To meet the new standards – a 2.4 percent reduction in electricity use across the state, and a 1.15 percent reduction in natural gas use – the state’s utilities will invest approximately $2.2 billion in expanding efficiency measures like home energy audits, weatherization, and rebates for home appliances, over three years.
It’s an emerging theme. A few weeks ago, The New York Times reported on couples seeking therapy for green conflicts. There was a story today on the Oregon Live website highlighting the friction that can emerge between couples where one person is more into green than the other.
Let’s call it green friction, that force in a household when one person is more green-minded than another. It’s often characterized by comments like: “Why did you throw this away, Love? Did you realize it could be recycled?” (Love probably did); “Are you going to drive to the store for milk? Seriously, feel free to borrow my rain pants — it’s only a light drizzle.” “I’m about to put on a third sweater since the thermostat is set low enough to freeze an ice cube.”
While most couples probably have one person more green than the other, I have personally found it also depends on which aspect of green—energy, water, health or stuff–each person cares about and if they are different, watch out! My better half is all about energy, recycling, carbon— and ROI. He is an accountant by trade after all. And he was WAY greener than I when we first met.
My on-ramp to living green was health. Particularly kid’s health. And since he thinks some of my greenness stems from mild hypochondria, he’ll often roll his eyes when I insist that whatever we buy for the kids has to be free of preservatives, antibiotics, hormones, artificial colors, sweeteners and flavors, and high fructose corn syrup. He reluctantly agrees to forego the Apple Jacks and Trix for healthier choices. He throws the $6.99 tiny package of “healthy” chicken fingers in the cart, but points out that he ate Weaver and is just fine, thank you.
He knows not to ask how much the kid’s all natural lotion cost or it will ruin his day. I’ve had to learn to breathe deep, and shut up, when he slathers products on himself that garner moderate and high hazard scores from the SafeCosmetics Database. He talks me out of green projects with 10 year + paybacks. I remind him that our son being able to breathe at night is priceless.
I’m sure some couples have serious green battles, particularly if one person is just starting to think green and the other isn’t there yet . I feel pretty lucky that our green differences seem to lead only to a few eye rolls and snarky comments. But I would also say this is where being practically green helps. It’s easier to find detentes and compromises. For me last week that meant bringing home a box of Apple Jacks…just to say I cared.
It’s a bit long. It gets political. But if you want a very friendly and easy to understand explanation for how many green issues have to do with stuff—and how we make it, transport it, consume it, and throw it—it’s really worth watching. Some parts are funny. Some of what you learn is maddening. And be prepared to never look at all your stuff in quite the same way.
In 2008, the French designer Philippe Starck turned his attention to designing for good, and launched his first very stylish home wind-turbines. Today, he announced two new models that are, in a word, visually stunning.
However, it leads me to wonder how practical a home wind turbine really is. Sure I want that gorgeous thing on my house. Other than driving an electric car or putting up solar panels, it might be one of the most visible ways to market new green tech to the neighbors and perhaps convince a few of them that wind power can mean more than an ocean full of bird killing devices (can you tell I live near the Cape Wind controversy?). My co-gen system is cool too, but not that many people are wandering around my basement.
But what’s the benefit? What’s the cost? How do I figure out whether I can get enough wind? The cost for Starck’s model, according to the announcement, is approximately $3,500 USD for one of the models and $5,000 USD for the other. The benefit: one of them produces about 400W and the (more expensive one) 1 Kilowatts at max capacity, but “capacity factor” (how much time is spent producing at capacity) varies dramatically–in many regions it’s only between 20-35%.
There is a decent frequently asked questions section of the American Wind Energy Association about residential wind that suggests a 1 Kilowatt system is probably undersized for a typical US household’s needs. They recommend a 5 to 15 Kilowatt system to offset the majority of energy usage. You can also look at a map of wind in your region on the Wind Energy Resource Atlas to determine whether you have average wind of at least 10 MPH. (On that basis alone, I think I’m out here in on a hillside in 02459. If you are in the Great Plains, Texas or California or on a hilltop, you may be in luck). And no one seems to provide great advice for dealing with those finicky historical commissions.
That said, even a 20% energy usage reduction would garner decent savings and Stark’s price points seem correspondingly lower than the costs quoted by the AWEA ($6K-$22K) for home systems. So while the Philippe Starck home turbine does feel like a little bit like eco-bling, if great design helps increase interest in renewable energy, a little bling is not necessarily a bad thing.
The Federal/State stimulus program “Cash for Appliances” is ramping up across the country this quarter, providing incentives to upgrade that energy hog of an appliance for a new energy-efficient one. But because every state program is different, figuring out how much you save and on what can be daunting. Fortunately, you take a problem, the Internet, and a few innovative people and you get a solution. In this case, it’s Eco Rebates, which launched this week.
Ecorebates most useful feature is a map where you can search by state and see when the program starts and in some cases, exactly how much you will save by appliance. A perusal of Massachusetts says the program will start in March, over $6MM in rebates will be given out, and it covers EnergyStar refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, and dishwashers. California’s goes further and says the program will start on March 17th, end of April 22nd, and gives the exact rebate amount for Clotheswasher (Tier 2 or greater, $100) , Room A/C, and Refrigerator. They also have a list of useful resources and websites for additional rebate information and links to major retailer’s appliance pages.
Like Cash for Clunkers, the funds may run out fast. So if you are in the market for a more efficient appliance, you won’t want to wait. And if you aren’t sure, check out your state’s rebates. It might just be the little kicker you need to finally brave the lines at Best Buy, and hey–you can always say you were just doing your part for the economic recovery.
It’s hard enough to figure out what’s in a product that’s good for you and what’s not. But evidently, companies can find out something was bad for health safety—and then claim “confidential business information” and not divulge that it was in their product. And the number of chemicals tested for health safety is actually really low. According to a report released by the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families late last week:
Of the 80,000 chemicals used in the U.S., EPA has required safety testing on only 200 under TSCA, says the coalition. And 60,000 chemicals including bisphenol A were grandfathered in for use without testing for health safety. Recent studiesshow that Bisphenol-A, a chemical compound commonly used in plastic packaging for food and beverages, has been linked to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormalities.
The EPA announced late last year that they will be reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act and require more testing and disclosure. The benefits of reforming the act? According to the Safer Chemicals, Healthier Families report, nearly $5BB a year in health related costs.
But cost isn’t the only reason consumers need better ways to avoid these chemicals. Just watch me trying to nebulize our two year old twice a day with her steroids for asthma—it’s like chasing a gazelle and often miserable for both of us.
The emotional toll on families ranges from highly annoying to devastating and affects nearly everything else: workplace productivity, divorce rates, education outcomes, financial well-being, and overall happiness. So yes, the cost information is very compelling. But when you add in the other benefits, the value of reforming this act feels priceless.
One of my biggest pet peeves around home energy management is that I can set and monitor the temperature and if I try hard enough— kilowatt hours—but I can’t tell how much I’m spending as I’m spending it. So every month, when the electric and gas bill show up, it’s a surprise. Sometimes surprisingly low. Sometimes, like this month, surprisingly, and ridiculously, high. Had I known how much we were on track to spend, I can guarantee we would have cut back.
Fortunately, Earth2Tech reports that help is on the way.
In early January, the Consumer Electronics Show, the harbinger of next-generation gadgets and gizmos, featured its biggest showing of consumer-facing home energy management in my recollection, and at least five different home energy management devices launched, from heavyweights like General Electric, Control4 and Best Buy. A couple weeks later news broke that Apple has filed for a patent that focuses on managing the energy of its computing devices, suggesting that the firm has been eyeing the home energy management space. And this week Blue Line Innovations announced that it has started selling the PowerCost Monitor, a $99 energy management tool, to consumers via Fry’s Electronics.
This is all very good news, but like any new technology, it may be challenging to get it installed. I’m sure there will be limitations on who can use it, bugs, and other things that make you crazy. But it does suggest that homeowners may finally get an opportunity to easily monitor their energy spending and there is probably no greater incentive than knowing what you spend to change behavior. Blue Innovations claims that trial users cut back by up to 18%!
And I, for one, will be happy for a world without January energy bill surprises.
These ten steps will not involve drinking less wine or running 3 miles a day. Yes, we all know that will make us more healthy, but my knees are bad and the mental health benefits of a glass of wine have to be considered somewhere in life.
These ten steps are about reducing toxins and chemicals–in your food, your air, your playroom, and the stuff you put on yourself and your kids everyday like lotions, make-up, and hair products.
1. Eat more organic foods
Organic foods are grown without putting pesticides into the ground or water, and as a result, they aren’t in the food. They also don’t have anti-biotics or hormones which may prove to have unintended, harmful consequences (This is where I think I need to say “there is no discernible difference between milk with rGBH and that without” or I risk being sued for food slander. If you think I’m kidding, go see Food Inc and check out your Stonyfield Farm yogurt package).
Organic foods do cost more and my order of priority is to focus first on dairy and meat, then fruits and vegetables (particularly the “dirty dozen”), and then other items as budget permits. I’ve also found that we can eat organic more affordably by eating less red meat, having a few vegetarian meals a week, and upping quantity of fruits and vegetables–all eating changes that are better for the diet and health as well.
2. Audit your personal care products
The Environmental Working Group has a great tool called the Safe Cosmetics Database. You can put in your brand of lotion, shampoo, soap, make-up, hair product, etc and it will come back with a score–green is low risk, yellow is moderate risk, and red is high risk. I was horrified when I put in my sunscreen and it came back a high risk #8. It can also help direct you to the safest choices for each product–and don’t assume just because it is made by a “all natural” brand that it is super safe. Even Burt’s Bees, for example, has products that scored a 7.
3. Know your plastics–and don’t put them in the microwave and the dishwasher
Plastics are convenient and tough to ditch all together (check out Fake Plastic Fish for one mom’s amazing attempts). But we are beginning to learn that some are not great for health, particularly those labeled #3, #6, and #7 because they can leach chemicals into food and drinks. Some countries have banned plastics with chemicals like BPA in them, but so far, the US has not done so. Fortunately, more and more BPA free plastics are on the market and better information is available when deciding what to get.
4. Avoid pesticides, inside and out
In your own home, you can take steps to avoid pest entry in the first place (Here’s a great checklist) and if they do show up, get rid of them using non-toxic products or strategies. You can also ask people remove shoes when coming inside and have a mat to wipe off feet. Those two steps can reduce the introduction of dirt containing chemicals in the house by nearly 70%. Once you’ve eliminated them from your own home, start advocating at the school and in your town’s parks departments or other places your children spend lots of time.
5. Avoid furnishings, clothes with flame retardants
While flame retardants have contributed to safety, the EPA states that the PBDE chemicals used (Plybrominated diphenyletherether) may have had unintended negative consequences for the environment and for health, citing accumulation found in breast milk and wildlife. Exposure can cause liver, neurological, and thyroid toxicity. And recently, the three major manufacturers have committed to phasing one type out over three years, but others will still be in use.
They are all over a home—computers, foam furnishings, etc—but the place to focus most is the kid’s bedroom given how much time they spend in bed and in pajamas. You can easily put kids in long john type pajamas, which often do not have flame retardants (GAP sells them for babies and kids. If you want organic, Hanna Andersson has a good assortment and great sales) and if you are buying a new mattress, look for one that is made with all natural flame retardants versus PDBEs.
6. Clean with all-natural products
Some of the chemicals in conventional cleaning products are really toxic, not just to the water that goes down the drain, but also for the people using them and assumedly, at least some of the time, that’s you and your family. The good news is that all natural products do work just as well. You can buy all-natural cleaning products from companies like Seventh Generation or you can even make your own.
7. Learn more about other VOC’s and when to avoid them
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are organic chemicals that may be natural or synthetic and produce vapors. Generally, if you can smell it, it counts as a VOC. VOCs have many uses, including in fuels, solvents, paints, scents, refrigerants, pesticides, and resins. Many VOCs are hazardous air pollutants and regulated. The release of VOC’s into the air is called off-gassing, but you may recognize it more as “new paint or carpet” smell.
The problem is that the release of VOC’s into the indoors of a home causes the concentration of chemicals to be 2-5X that of outdoor air. Depending on the chemical and the concentration, the symptoms could be from watery eyes or mild skin irritations to more serious issues like asthma and the long term effects of VOC exposure could be much more serious. If you’ve heard of Sick Building Syndrome, that’s generally caused by high concentrations of VOCs and a poor ventilation system.
The best way to combat VOC’s is good ventilation and fresh air. The next is to avoid products that off-gas known toxic chemicals, including regular paints, furniture made with foam or fiberboard, synthetic carpet, pesticides, floor finishes, etc. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s made from all-natural materials (wood, wool, natural fibers, etc), the VOCs released are likely to be very low risk.
You can check to find out the chemicals in thousands of household products using this website from the US Department of Health & Human Services. It’s a little complicated, but many products have health and safety ratings and it does list all chemicals in a product.
8. Reduce the amount of fake stuff in your food
Food labels are confusing–and believe me, with a child who is allergic to nuts, sesame, shellfish and eggs, I read a lot of them. I’ve decided that the longer the food label with the more words I don’t understand, the more likely the food is to be not so great for you. In particular, we try to avoid foods that have been shown to potentially contribute to obesity (like transfats and HFCS), as well as artificial colors and flavors, preservatives like sodium benzoate, artificial sweeteners like phenylketonurics, etc. Why?
Basically because you can eat just fine without them and we’re finding out more everyday that the fake stuff in food may be contributing to health issues. For example, there are reports of soda containing more benzene (byproduct of sodium benzoate that in high doses contributes to cancer) than it’s supposed to and that preservatives are causing hyperactivity. Whole towns in Massachusetts are banning transfats and Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivores Dilemma definitely makes you think hard about the health impact of high fructose corn syrup. We aren’t zealots. We love Oreos and every now and then I break down and buy everyone Apple Jacks, generally to big cheers and “yeah mom!!!”. But we try to keep it to low doses figuring better safe than sorry.
9. Be smart about anti-bacterials and antibiotics
With a child with asthma, I’m as freaked out about H1N1 and the flu as you are. But I have tried really hard to avoid the constant use chemical hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes because if you want to see freaked out, mention drug-resistant bacteria to a physician. So when you or your child needs antibiotics, finish the dose as directed. Use soap and water whenever possible and when you can’t find soap and water (like the train), use all-natural hand sanitizer. The use of antibiotics in farming is also a contributor to drug resistant bacteria so that is another health benefit of buying organic meat and dairy.
10. Get the lead out
I still remember the day in 2007 I had to take James, the red Thomas the Train pal, and throw him out because he was on the list of toys from China that had unsafe levels of lead in them. My son was in tears and I was royally pissed off. I had just spent thousands on a lead paint abatement so he didn’t get exposed when we raised and lowered our windows and in the end, it was the darn train?!
But the reality is that lead is still a major risk for kids and hundreds of thousands of kids test positive for elevated lead in their blood every year. It can wind up in your air or in your products in unsuspected ways, particularly during a home renovation project of a home painted before 1950. But it can also be in soil, get into your water through old pipes, be found in imported or older toys, art supplies, and even some imported candies. The CDC maintains a good site about childhood lead exposure to learn more.
Think you need to purchase all new appliances, redo your windows or install solar to save energy? You’d be surprised at how little changes, often simple and inexpensive, can add up to a decent chunk of energy savings. And just think, if you could save 10%, the average family would have an extra $190 a year for something way more fun than the electric bill– and feel good about doing your part for the planet.
So before you tackle those bigger projects, make sure you’ve checked these items off the list.
1. Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees.
Don’t worry, I didn’t know how to do that either. It’s actually pretty simple. If you have gas, it’s near the bottom of the tank. If you have electric, it’s often behind a panel. If you have the manual, it will explain how. There are also good “How To’s’ for this online. Here’s one good explanation from EnergySavers.gov.
2. Turn your heat down to 67 (or lower if you are a hearty soul).
You would be surprised how your body adjusts to the lower temperature. The first few days may feel a bit chilly so grab a sweater, but you’ll get used to it over time and anything higher will start to feel hot.
3. Use drapes, blinds and shutters proactively.
If it’s hot, shut them during the day. If it’s cold, open them during the day to gain heat from the sun and close them at night to keep warm air in.
4. Skip the “Dry” cycle or use the “No Heat” dry button on your dishwasher.
I didn’t believe it at first, but my dishes actually look fine and are equally clean—and it reduces energy used for washing dishes by 7%.
5. Turn off your computer & monitor and unplug those chargers
The “sleep” mode lulls you into thinking it isn’t using electricity, but one day with a watt meter attached and you’ll realize how much energy drains even in that mode. And unplug your chargers when they are not in use. It’s a hard habit to break, but just picture a river of electricity flowing out of the cord every time you see one still attached to the wall.
6. Install smart power strips.
While you’re tackling the computer, don’t forget your TV, sound system, etc. Flat-screen Plasma/HiDef TV’s consume a significant amount of energy, even in passive mode. There are smart power strips that enable you to turn off the TV, but keep the DVR going so you can still have the latest episodse of Wonderpets and American Idol and save energy.
7. Switch from incandescents to LEDs and CFLs.
Yes, I know—you are tired of hearing about them, hate the color, the mercury freaks you out, the thought of paying $39.95 for an LED light-bulb is unfathomable, etc. But they really do save a lot of energy–a whopping 80% by most life cycle assessments and the average home has dozens of lights so you will save money. They also last a really long time, so it’s a huge bonus to use them for any light that requires a ladder.
And of course, turn off the lights when you leave a room. My husband is laughing as I write this because I seem to always leave one on somewhere and he is a light-turning-off zealot. What’s worked well for sloppy light-turner-offers like me are motion sensor in places like closets and timers for outside lights.
8. Try and reduce your auto miles.
Whether it’s through combining trips, telecommuting more, carpooling one day a week to school/work/activities, picking places to go closer to home, or figuring out that bus/train schedule near you, less driving offers one of the biggest opportunities to reduce energy and save money–and if you are walking or biking–get healthy. If you are struggling to find a way to share rides or stay organized when you do, check out GoLoco, an online service that connects you to your friends and friends of friends for ride sharing.
9. Wash your clothes in cold water; clean the lint filter in your dryer.
Even if you just moved from hot to warm water, you would cut energy use by 50% in the washer. And if you don’t have a dryer with a moisture sensor, be careful not to overdry. And always clean the lint trap to keep drying times shorter. If you are in a warm climate area or it’s summer time, consider line drying. I haven’t made the leap, but it’s on my list for the future.
10. Get a professional energy audit.
Sometimes the biggest energy losses in a home are hidden behind the walls or near the pipes. A professional audit will give you a roadmap for where your greatest efficient opportunities might exist and you might be surprised how a little investment will produce a big return. Our audit highlighted opportunities to wrap our ductwork, seal up cracks, and improve insulation in several spots. Some companies will even do some of the work after the audit and some of that work qualifies for a tax credit this year.
Did you know the average baby uses 3,500 diapers in it’s lifetime, that diapers are the third largest source of solid waste in our landfills and take up to 500 years to decompose? So of course, this green mom switched to cloth, right?
Ummm…not quite. I just couldn’t take the plunge for a whole host of reasons….and admittedly, some excuses. But the thought of all those diapers piling up was bothering me so last year, when my daughter came home from Vietnam, we tried gDiapers.
gDiapers have a cloth outer in cool bright colors, an interior plastic liner, and what looks like a giant maxi-pad that you tuck inside (cotton inserts are also available). When it’s soiled, you can tear down the side and shake it into the toilet, but don’t do this if you’re on septic. The pad is biodegradable and if only urine is on it, can be composted although I can’t quite bring myself to compost the diapers yet. My favorite bonus feature is that her room doesn’t smell nearly as bad as my son’s did.
A few negatives: They don’t work for us at night—and they will sometimes leak onto the outer lining. But we’ve never had problems with major leaks or blow-outs. After shaking them into the toilet, we also let them sit and wait for the opportunity to join in with another flush and that seems to prevent both the extra water usage and the problem of clogging we had early on.
The cost is higher than regular diapers by about .14 cents per diaper, which definitely is a turn off for some. Our nearest Whole Foods doesn’t stock them, so we have to buy them by the case and have them shipped.
In terms of green, G-diapers are Cradle-to-Cradle certified and have gotten a decent number of good reviews from other green moms online. While I am pretty sure in a full life cycle assessment, cloth diapers might be better overall for the environment, this green mom feels that gdiapers are a practically green solution for busy families. Overall, we are fans.
I recently joined the Freecycle Network, which I had read about for a few years but just never got around to trying. But I found myself needing a desk for our fabulous new Practically Green intern and decided to take a look. First you have to sign up for your local community group using Yahoo! and I have to admit it is not a great user experience. But once you are in, you can see what’s available and sure enough, I found a great desk! I emailed, we arranged a time, and the very nice freecycler who lived a mile from me even helped me pack it into the car.
Since joining, I’ve procured a whiteboard and given away some bubble wrap that I had been saving until I could figure out how to recycle it. And it’s kind of amazing to see what people are trading for free—everything from new sippy cups to furniture to a coconut cake that was a Christmas gift no one wanted. It’s now my first stop when I need something and so far, it’s working well. And I’m beginning to see a way to finally find a good home for the Thomas the Train set that no one really plays with anymore.
Water Use It Wisely is a friendly, easy to use site with 100+ ideas to save water that range from big ideas like dual-flush toilets and rainwater harvesting systems to littler ideas like bathing your young children together or taking the ice from a drink you’ve finished and putting it on a plant. They have a water saving “tip” widget you can add to your site or blog and a kids section, with games and downloads that they can have fun with and learn to reduce water around the house.
Part of the Apartment Therapy family, Re-Nest features multiple daily posts featuring cool, green items for your home. But for those of you interested in green who also have a slight addiction to cruising online real estate photos of homes you can’t afford, the green home tour feature of re-nest is a blast.
Home tours range from a net zero energy home in Bellevue, WA to a recycled train caboose in Mercer Island to a reclaimed loft in Rhode Island. Each tour has photos and an interview with the owners listing items like “Proudest DIY” to “Biggest Indulgence”. The variety of design ideas is inspiring and the interviews informative. If you are embarking on a renovation, or just needing a break from the daily to do list, these homes offer a glimpse of the possible, not just the practical.
You want to eat locally grown, fresh food but can’t find the time or have absolutely no interest in all the weed-wacking and planting a garden requires?
Find a CSA, a farmer’s market or visit a local farm near you. Localharvest.org offers a zip code based tool that finds relevant listings along with consumer reviews and maps. You can also search by the type of food you are looking for, as well as find grocery stores, co-ops and restaurants that serve locally grown food.
Eating locally grown food helps save energy, but small, local farms also often use organic or integrated pest management techniques to reduce reliance of chemical pesticides. Strike up a conversation with whomever is selling it and you will often learn a ton (perhaps more than you ever wanted to know!). Besides possible health benefits, freshly picked food often tastes so good relative to store bought. Maybe you can finally get your kids (or better half) to eat those green beans…
Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be found in air, water and soil. Pure mercury is a liquid metal that has traditionally been used to make thermometers, light bulbs and switches. Mercury can be exposed to humans when coal is burned (mercury is in coal), when hazardous wastes are burned, when chlorine is produced, when mercury products are broken, when it is spilled and when mercury in the air settles in water and builds up in food supplies such as fish and shellfish.
The danger of being exposed to mercury is that it can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, immune system and nervous system.
To learn more, go to:
Lead is a toxic metal that can be emitted into the air from motor vehicles, industrial sources, some household items and can enter drinking water from plumbing materials.
The danger in being exposed to lead is that it can cause many serious health problems such as behavioral and learning problems, seizures, and death. Children 6 years and under are most at risk.
The most common sources of lead poisoning are:
- deteriorating lead-based paint (the older the home, the more at risk; many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint)
- lead contaminated dust (dust can pick up lead from lead-based paint or lead contaminated soil)
- lead contaminated residential soil (picked up from exterior paint and residues from leaded gas in cars)
- lead contaminated toys and furniture
- plumbing systems containing lead
To learn more, go to:
Landfills are one of two ways to bury trash. A landfill is a carefully designed isolated structure built on top of or into the ground where municipal trash can be dumped.
The danger in using landfills is that leachate (the water from rain, snow, dew, and natural precipitation that passes through the layers of trash) can leak into local water supplies. Methane gas can build up and cause fires or explosions, however, new technology can be used to trap the released methane gas and use it for energy.
To learn more, go to:
Dual-pane windows are energy efficient windows that consist of two glass panels set in a frame, separated by a small space (1/2 inch to 3/4 inch wide). The space between the layers of glass are filled with nontoxic, inert gasses (such as argon) which add to the window’s insulating properties. The glass itself is often coated to reflect heat as well.
To learn more, go to:
Dioxin is a general term describing a group of hundreds of chemicals that are some of the most toxic chemicals known to science. Described by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a serious health threat, dioxin is an unintentional by-product of many industrial and non-industrial processes involving chlorine (such as waste incineration, pulp and paper bleaching, pesticide and chemical manufacturing, and backyard burn-barrel incineration). It is formed by burning chlorine-based chemical compounds with hydrocarbons and was the main toxic component of Agent Orange.
The danger in being exposed to dioxin is that there is no known “safe dose” below which dioxin will not cause cancer. It also can cause severe developmental and reproductive problems.
To learn more, go to: