Please send us your address if you would like a copy of our newsletter, first issue FREE!
When we think about the reasons we're unhealthy, we often blame our genetics or our poor habits. But our environment plays a role, too! More for some than for others.
Already know what to do about your environment? Want some fun suggestions? Then go to the area below:
OK, Show Me The Fun!
Of course the usual culprits are still important, air, water and land pollution. Much of that has been taken care of as the government made it a priority a few decades ago, although you still read occasionally or see a movie about a particularly heinous case of corporate indifference.
The EPA now estimates that for most Americans, indoor pollution is affecting us MUCH worse than anything we might encounter outdoors!!
Oh Great! Why Do I Have to Worry About Indoor Air Quality??
Our buildings are so air-tight that air circulation has been compromised sufficiently that whatever is inside intensifies: fumes from new carpet or new paint, or dust mites, etc. So if you're not allergic to pollens, etc., open windows whenever the weather allows, if you can get some fresh air that way. Clean or change air filters often (I've seen recommendations from once a month to once every three months, but I don't know anybody who actually does it more than once a year!). Consider adding filters to your vents or buying HEPA filters (they filter out just about every possible contaminant). There are small desk units available for $10-20, or more extensive systems for the entire house if indoor air quality really bothers you. There are also cleaning agents that you can use that create fewer or no fumes, such as using a baking soda cleaning solution.
Of course, for many people, a major source of indoor air pollution continues to come from cigarette smoke. If you smoke and you want to live a long and healthy life, it is very important that you keep trying to quit. Nothing else that we can do for you will matter as much as whether or not you smoke. It usually takes several quitting tries before a smoker succeeds, but as long as you don't give up, you WILL succeed! For nicotine replacement products, and for programs to help support your commitment to quitting, please click either or both of these links:
NicoDerm CQ - Stop Smoking Aid
Nicorette - Stop Smoking Aid
Consider buying plants that help clean indoor air. Some good ones are dieffenbachia and peace lily. These can be ordered from catalogs or on-line if not available locally (check our Links page soon).
For MUCH more information, please Click here for the EPA IAQ Web site
How About My Tap Water? I've Seen Commercials....
Your drinking water is probably pretty good, actually. There are a variety of laws to keep our drinking water safe. Some people are concerned about fluoride in the water, but actually that is the main reason for greatly improved dental health in the United States. As the water moves through old pipes, however, sometimes it picks up contaminants. You can have your water tested, or choose to drink water from several different sources. By using a variety of sources, you dilute the concentration of any contaminants you inadvertently encounter. We use the same principle for food: Eat a variety. That way you are unlikely to ingest too much of any one thing.
Surely I Don't Have to Worry About Land Pollution Indoors....
Actually, it has been recommended that if you have a new baby or anyone else on the floor a lot, you may want to have something other than carpeting. Carpets tend to pick up and hold whatever we track in on our shoes. Also, you should vacuum or mop often. And it costs very little to have an extra pair of shoes just for indoors, taking off your outside shoes at the door. This way you can be sure you're not tracking something around.
What Else Can I Do About Land Pollution?
Pesticides are common in home lawns and gardens and on farms, and some use can be curtailed. If you have a garden, try gardening organically, pesticide free (see our Activity Q&A page for answers to organic gardening questions). Generally, your garden will find a happy balance between plant needs and pests. There are many good books on how to garden organically without being overrun. In general, encourage spiders and birds, both of which eat pests. Without pesticides, you will probably find that your garden becomes a favorite of small songbirds and butterflies, which can be harmed by insecticides, so it's worth a try and can make your yard more enjoyable.
Also, please recycle whenever possible! We do a pretty good job of trash disposal, but no matter how well the government does in this area, eventually we will run out of space, so help slow the process by recycling. You can check with your local schools and put a project together if you are looking for a volunteer activity -- since some recyclable materials actually make money for the recyclers, many of them pay money for the donation of recyclable items. It's not generally enough of a payment to make it worthwhile for individuals to travel to the recycling facility, but it can be a good way for schools to raise money, if they collect a lot of recyclables at once and then make the trip.
We will be happy to address other environment/health issues. If you have any questions, comments, or specific issues you would like to address, please e-mail us or call us in Lexington, Kentucky at (859) 269-1500!
What About Working with Computers?
Computer work can also be an unhealthy environment! Staring for hours at a time can cause eye problems, neck and shoulder problems, lower limb circulation problems. You need to take fairly frequent breaks. So at least look up once in awhile and focus on something at a distance while you stretch. Or get up and walk around for awhile -- but check out our Links page first, and the fun stuff below!
MAKING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT FUN
**Suggestions From Our Clients and Others**
Our local Sierra Club has outings a lot of nice weekends, where we pick up trash while hiking trails. The city has one day a year where a bunch of people replant trees. The River Authority has several days a year where we pick up trash along the riverbanks. Lots of people show up to these events, there's a real sense of camaraderie, and we're enjoying the great outdoors. Trust me, it's fun! We take the kids along, and they enjoy it too -- maybe because these few times, we don't nag them about getting dirty!
Want to check out your local Sierra Club activities? Link through their main page, which you can access below:
Take me to the Sierra Club!
At least once a season, I buy a new plant to hang indoors from the ceiling (where the pets can't get to it). Some I keep at home, some I take to the office. I emphasize the advertised air-cleaning plants, but I don't stop there. It's fun to see what's new, and to watch them grow and flower over time. My coworkers tease me about my "greenhouse", but they keep stopping by on breaks!
Do you have suggestions for enjoying environmental improvement projects? Please e-mail us and let us know!
This page was last updated on 04/23/03.