EarthTalk

EarthTalk: How to Recycle Paint, Primer and Stains?

EarthTalk: How to Recycle Paint, Primer and Stains?

Dear EarthTalk: What is the best way to recycle my old and/or unwanted paint, primer and stains? – Kim Beeler, Lake Oswego, OR Americans discard about 10 percent of the house paint they purchase — some 65 to 69 million gallons — every year. Credit: U.S. Army Environmental Command Has one of the many popular shows on HGTV inspired you to renovate your own home? If so, you’re not alone! Home renovations have been on the rise the last few years in the U.S. and Canada, which can mean lots of leftover paint. Extra paint can last for years when properly sealed and stored away from extreme heat and cold, and if unneeded, can be donated to organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Keep America Beautiful. But if paint can no longer be used, what are some safe, environmentally-responsible ways to dispose of it? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)...
Earth Talk: Should I Recycle My Disposable Batteries?

Earth Talk: Should I Recycle My Disposable Batteries?

Dear EarthTalk: Can I throw my old disposable batteries in the trash or is there a way to recycle them?                                                                                                            — Jennifer Brandstrom, Chicago, IL Now that there’s no more mercury in disposable alkaline batteries, they can go right into the garbage. Credit: Heather Kennedy, FlickrCC Truth be told, those old used up disposable alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, etc.) aren’t the environmental menace they used to be before the federal government mandated taking out the mercury, a potent neurotoxin linked to a wide range of environmental and health problems, as part of the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act of 1996. These days, in every U.S. state except California (which requires recycling of all spent batteries), it is safe and legal to throw them in the trash. Environmental Health & Safety Online, the leading web-based clearinghouse for information on environmental health and safety, reports that today’s...
Earth Talk: Is backyard firepit smoke a health hazard?

Earth Talk: Is backyard firepit smoke a health hazard?

Dear EarthTalk: Now that summer is coming, my neighbors will be firing up their backyard fire pits again, and I’m wondering if the wood smoke drifting in my open windows is a health hazard for my family and if I have any standing to require them to refrain?            — Mitch Brasky, Reno, NV Exposure to wood smoke can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and bronchitis — and can aggravate pre-existing heart and respiratory conditions. Credit: Nautical9, FlickrCC With summer approaching, many of us are eagerly anticipating the first night we can gather with loved ones under the stars around our backyard fire pits. But neighbors might have not-so-warm feelings about wood smoke entering their yards and homes. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wood smoke is a complex mixture of gases and microscopic particles, and when these microscopic particles get into your eyes...
EarthTalk: E-waste Blizzard

EarthTalk: E-waste Blizzard

Dear EarthTalk: The collective impact of all the iPhones and other devices we buy, use and then discard must be mind-boggling at this point. Has anyone quantified this and what can we do to start reducing waste from such items? — Jacques Chevalier, Boston, MA  If Americans recycled the 130 million cell phones we throw away every year, we would save enough energy to power some 24,000 homes. Photo: Roddy Scheer. With a record four million pre-orders for Apple’s best-selling iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, it’s more evident than ever that consumers want the latest in smartphone technology at their fingertips. A new report by analysts at German market research firm GfK determined that global smartphone sales exceeded 1.2 billion units in 2014 — a 23 percent increase over2013. With so many new smartphones and electronics being purchased, are users disposing of their older devices properly? According to U.S....
EarthTalk: The Link between Bacteria Resistance to Antibiotics and Factory Farming

EarthTalk: The Link between Bacteria Resistance to Antibiotics and Factory Farming

Dear EarthTalk: How is it that antibiotics are being “overused,” as I’ve read, and what are the potential consequences? —Mitchell Chase, Hartford, CT The majority of the ground beef and ground turkey sold in the typical American grocery store contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The development and widespread adoption of so-called “antibiotics”—drugs that kill bacteria and thereby reduce infection—has helped billions of people live longer, healthier lives. But all this tinkering with nature hasn’t come without a cost. The more we rely on antibiotics, the more bacteria develop resistance to them, which makes treating infections that much more challenging. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overuse of antibiotics by humans—such as for the mistreatment of viral infections—means these important drugs are less effective for all of us. Besides the toll on our health, researchers estimate that antibiotic resistance causes Americans upwards of $20 billion in additional...
EarthTalk: Improving School Lunches

EarthTalk: Improving School Lunches

Dear EarthTalk: I hear that many school cafeterias have nutrition standards no better—even worse—than those of fast food chains. What can be done about this? — Betsy Edison, Nashville, TN Studies have concluded that American kids consume very few fruits and vegetables in their school cafeterias and that they are eating many refined grains and too much saturated fat and sodium. In addition, a 2009 USA Today study found that meat used by McDonald’s and Burger King was tested for bacteria and unsafe pathogens up to 10 times as much as meat bound for U.S. school cafeterias. Credit: U.S. Department of Education Americans have done a great job making sure that our kids have something to eat at school regardless of socioeconomic status, with the National School Lunch Program providing low-cost or free lunches to upwards of 31 million students at 92 percent of U.S. public and private...
EarthTalk: Sweden’s Environmental Leadership

EarthTalk: Sweden’s Environmental Leadership

Dear EarthTalk: I recently heard that Sweden is the greenest country in the world. Is this true and, if so, by what standards? And where does the U.S. rank? — Raul Swain, New York, NY Sweden topped the recently released environmental sustainability ranking of 60 countries by the Global Green Economy Index. The rankings take into account a wide range of key issues, including leadership on climate change, green technology and sustainability, and management of ecosystems and natural capital. Pictured: A display greets visitors to the Swedish Embassy in the United States. Photo: SwedeninUSA It’s true that Sweden came out on top in the recently released ranking of 60 countries according to sustainability by consulting firm Dual Citizen Inc. in its fourth annual Global Green Economy Index (GGEI). Norway, Costa Rica, Germany and Denmark rounded out the top five. The rankings take into account a wide range of economic...
EarthTalk: Artificial Turf Issues

EarthTalk: Artificial Turf Issues

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that playing on artificial turf fields can cause cancer? If so, how can I minimize exposure for my sports-loving kids? — Melanie Witmer, Syracuse, NY Just when you thought it was safe to play soccer on that brand new synthetic turf field, it may be time to think again. Those little black dirt-like granules that fill up the space between synthetic blades of grass and make up some 90 percent of today’s artificial turf fields are actually ground-up car and truck tires. As such they contain a host of potentially noxious chemicals that can lead to a wide range of health problems. Four of the constituent chemicals in the “tire crumbs” (ground up truck tires) used in artificial turf are deemed carcinogens by the International Agency for Cancer Research. Others have been linked to skin, eye and respiratory irritation, kidney and liver problems, allergic...
EarthTalk: Palm Oil Production and Rainforest Destruction

EarthTalk: Palm Oil Production and Rainforest Destruction

Dear EarthTalk: How is it that some food purveyors are contributing to the destruction of tropical rainforests by ditching unhealthy “trans fats?” — Billy S., Salem, OR The explosion in palm oil use, largely to replace unhealthy trans fats in food, has wreaked havoc on tropical rainforest ecosystems across Southeast Asia, pushing some endangered species — including orangutans like the one pictured here — to the brink. Credit: Orangutan: Roger Smith; Clearcut: Greenpeace Most public health advocates applaud efforts by processed food producers, restaurants and fast food chains to get rid of so-called “trans fats”—partially hydrogenated oils added to foods to improve texture and extend shelf life but which can aggravate heart disease. In 2013 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) proposed eliminating trans fats altogether, but it is unclear if and when such a change will take effect. In anticipation, many big trans fat buyers have switched...
Ethanol’s Unrealized Promise

Ethanol’s Unrealized Promise

Photo: Michael Cote Dear EarthTalk: I thought that putting ethanol in our gas tanks was going help fight climate change, but lately I’ve heard reports to the contrary. Can you enlighten?       –– Bill B., Hershey, PA Ethanol and similar “biofuels” made from corn and other crops seem like a good idea given their potential for reducing our carbon outputs as well as our reliance on fossil fuels. But recent research has shown that the federal government’s push to up production of corn-derived ethanol as a gasoline additive since 2007 has actually expanded our national carbon footprint and contributed to a range of other problems. U.S. corn producers started ramping up ethanol production in 2007 as a result of President George W. Bush’s Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which mandated an increase in the volume of renewable fuel to be blended into transportation fuel from nine billion gallons in 2008...
X
- Enter Your Location -
- or -