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Visiting Scientists

Toxins and Pollutants

Did you know...

  • Over half the phosphates in our lakes and streams come from detergents.
  • Some of the commonest air fresheners contain toxic chemicals like xylene, ethanol, and napthalene.
  • Mothballs are made from 100% paradichlorobenzene which is harmful to your liver and kidneys.
  • There are over 100 million dogs and cats in America, and guess what they need-flea collars which contain piperomylbutoxide, an agent that damages livers.

What you can do...

  1. Use a low phosphate or phosphate free detergent. Elsewhere use natural cleaners. For example, to keep your drain clean, put a handful of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar down the drain and rinse with hot water. Send $6 to Publication Dept., Local Government Commission, 909 12th St., Suite 205, Sacramento, CA 95814 to purchase Making the Switch: Alternatives to Using Toxic Chemicals in the Home.
  2. Use herbal mixtures, vinegar, or lemon juice as air fresheners.
  3. Use cedar chips or cedar oil to keep moths away.
  4. For flea collar alternatives, run orange or grapefruit skins through a blender, then simmer with some water. After pulp has cooled, brush into your pet's fur.
  5. Join the Ocean Alliance.

Suggestions for the dedicated...

  • Toxic Pesticides. The average homeowner uses 5 to 10 pounds of toxins per lawn - for a national total of some 25 to 50 million pounds. A green, healthy lawn is possible without chemical pesticides. See The Chemical - Free Lawn, by Warren Schultz (Rodale Press, 1989).
  • Recycle Motor Oil. Americans use approximately a billion gallons of motor oil every year and 350 million gallons of it winds up in the environment causing incalculable damage. If you get your oil changed at a station, make sure first it is a station that recycles the oil. Ask to see their facilities for achieving this.
  • Don't Use Oil Based Paint, Use Latex Paint. According to the San Francisco Household Hazardous Waste Facility, paint and paint products account for 60% of the hazardous waste dumped by individuals.
  • Toxic Fumes. Cars emit hydrocarbons that cause tree-killing, lung-damaging, ozone smog. To cut these fumes, use public transportation. It turns out to be more a question of getting into the habit of doing so than of inconvenience, and it trades the hassle of a bit more time and the need to carry your purchases home on public transit (good exercise anyway) for the hassle and expense of parking your car (and removes the risk to it of accidents and vandalism).
  • Ozone Depletion. The ozone layer is being depleted by man-made gases that are found in homes, offices, and car air conditioners. To stop ozone depletion, avoid buying aerosol containers, foam coolers, and car air conditioners.

The above information comes from "50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth" by the Natural Resources Defense Council

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