Valentines Day is upon us, and so are candies, chocolates, flowers, nice dinners, you name it. But before you fall head over heels into this holiday, learn how to protect your loved one, partner, girlfriend, parents and children from the hazards of lead. We know, it may seem like that last thing you want to think about on a day like today, but lead can be found in certain candy and make-up - two things not uncommon on Valentines Day. lipstick

CANDY
While most candies don't contain lead, there are still a few that do (mostly candies exported from other countries). This happens when the lead in the candy wrapper leaches into candies containing tamarind and chile because of the acid in the ingredient. This Valentines day, instead of taking a risk with candy, buy alternative loving gifts such as flowers or a card.

Click here for a list candies with unsafe lead levels.

More so than adults, children are most susceptible to lead poisoning. EHC conducts outreach in low-income communities to identify and eliminate sources of lead poisoning. Please call today if you want to a home lead test, and learn more about lead poisoning in children here.

MAKE-UP
Ladies, check your lip gloss. Recently, many popular lipsticks and glosses have been found to have traces of lead and up to eight other toxic metals including titanium, copper and nickel, to name a few. Questions are now being raised about the long-term effects of daily metal intake via these beauty products. Make sure the lip products you use aren't on the list of 20 lipsticks containing the most lead.

You can also try this personal test on your own lipsticks to make sure they are safe to use.

1. Put some lipstick on your hand
2. Use a gold ring to scratch on the lipstick
3. If the lipstick color changes to black then you know it contains lead
4. Share this information with your girlfriends, wives and female family members

To avoid the risk of absorbing any lead, stick with a non-candy gift and ladies, go au-natural. Happy Valentines Day, from EHC!

The only thing better than happy holidays are happy, healthy holidays. Follow these simple steps and head into a toxic-free 2014. holiday fireplace

  • Gift a bucket with non-toxic, multi-purpose cleaning products so your friends can keep their homes clean without using harmful chemicals.
  • Gift toys that do not have lead-based paint - check the label to find out!
  • Use a space heater to heat your home instead of your stove.
  • Make an appointment with the local utility company to check you gas heater or gas appliances - it's a free service.
  • Invest in a carbon monoxide detector and install it in your home.
  • Check and/or change batteries on your smoke detector.
  • If you are going to use a chimney and burn wood, make sure you take the proper precautions.
  • Do not leave candles unattended.
  • Develop and discuss a fire evacuation plan with all family members.
  • Turn your holiday lights off each night before bed.

Safe seasons greetings, everyone!

LETTY NBC LEAD

What makes a healthy home in San Diego? Our team would tell you reducing energy costs and making your home toxic-free is a fantastic place to start. But how? 

Silvia León, an EHC Healthy Homes advocate, visits homes door-to-door and educates residents on the small changes in daily habits that can have an enormous impact on health and the environment with less reliance on polluting power plants, lowered instances of child respiratory illnesses and cleaner air.

León brings with her simple tool kits coined "Healthy Homes kits", which contain: 

  • efficient light bulbs that provide immediate savings
  • a timer for the shower to help people understand hot-water consumption
  • fridge and stove thermometers to help tell when an appliance needs an adjustment or to be traded in

Her home visits teach families how to read and comprehend their energy meters and bills, provide customized room-by-room energy savings action plans and track energy and gas consumption.

One resident working with León, Jerry Guzman, saw drastic reductions in his energy and gas use. Living in a four-bedroom house with his family, prior to the education program they were using about 977 kilowatt-hours of energy a month. After going through EHC's program, they reduced their energy use by 36 percent.

"Prior to EHC working with my family, we had no idea about the easy ways to save energy," Guzman said. "Now I know how to read my energy bill and can better track my family's energy usage."

Results like the Guzman family saw were common among most families that León visited. León says that saving money motivated families as well as the desire to reduce demand of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions – helping to combat climate change and air pollution often seen in their communities.

In addition to putting their energy savings toward other things, such as school supplies or family activities, the major takeaway from this community work is the family's commitment to applying their new habits over the long term as they understand their role in protecting the health of their home, neighborhoods and the planet.

To evaluate your own energy usage, conduct a home energy assessment or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today.

 

Although we use pesticides to get rid of unwelcome home guests, they are toxic to both the intruders and the people who live there, especially children. The use of pesticides indoors is extremely risky considering ventilation in most homes is relatively poor and people spend many hours a day at home, breathing these chemicals in long after they've been used.

pesticides

Pesticides are not the only way to control pests in your home. Follow the toxic-free pest control method and protect your family without the use of pesticides!

1. Use preventive methods first: Start by sealing food in tight-fitting containers, not letting dirty dishes pile up, taking the trash out regularly, groom pets and routinely sweep and vacuum.
2. Monitor your pest population to discover when, why and where they come from: Look in drawers, along walls and under the kitchen sink for their droppings or trails.
3. When preventive measures are not providing enough control, use the least toxic methods.

Depending on which pest is giving you a problem, there are several different options.

Ants: Diatomaceous earth (look for the garden grade, not the pool grade) is a dehydrating powder that kills insects on contact. Sprinkle it in carpets or around doors and windows.

Fleas: Effective control of fleas requires an organized plan with attention to fleas in the carpet, on the animal and in the yard. Soap and water traps for flea control in the house are extremely effective. In recent years, new products are available over the counter or from a veterinarian for use directly on pets such as Frontline Top Spot, Revolution or Advantage. Experience shows animals tolerate these well, but they aren't entirely non-toxic so keep them away from small children. For outdoors, an insecticidal soap product can be used to discourage flea growth in your yard.

Cockroaches: Boric acid is a moderately toxic, noncorrosive powder found in many commercial brands (look for 99% boric acid) carried in hardware stores and garden centers. Sprinkle it in cracks and crevices and behind furniture. IT IS TOXIC BY MOUTH: do not put it where children and pets can get to it.

Termites: Termite exterminators currently rely on Vikane (sulfuryl fluoride) for whole house fumigation and Dursban (chlorpyrifos) for spot treatment – both of which are toxic to the nervous system. EHC suggests removal or repair of infested wood, whole house heat, cold treatment and spot treatment with electricity, limonene or other citrus derivatives. Call EHC for more information on termite control.

Garden Pests (insect and weeds): Adhesive products and traps with sticky barriers are good for catching unwanted garden insects. Soap and water, inorganic dusts and oil spray are also good solutions to eliminate most insects, fungi and weeds.

Pesticides should be a last resort for pest management. Please contact EHC for more specific information on controlling unwanted guests without sacrificing the health of your family members and your home.

Parents, back to school is here --that means summer is coming to an end! Now is the time for your kids to shift back from play time to study time. And, as a parent, you want the very best for your child in everything: education, fun and health.

Have you thought about how clean is the air in your child's school?
Do you know if your child's indoor environment is safe?

One way to improve the indoor air quality in your child's school is to eliminate the use of cleaning supplies with toxic chemicals and use alternative cleaning methods which work just as well without catalyzing asthma and respiratory problems.

Help make your child's classroom bleach free- Ask the teacher NOT to spray chlorine bleach on your the desks, as this causes asthma in young kids. Water, soap and vinegar can replace bleach when cleaning and disinfecting your child's desk. 

Share Environmental Health Coalition's Multi-Purpose Non-Toxic Cleaning Solution with your child's teachers:

1 Spray Bottle
2 Cups of Water
½ Spoon of Liquid Dishwashing Soap
3 Spoons of White Vinegar
Mix all together in a bottle

A few small changes can make your child and their school healthier. Help children breathe easier and get ready for school by staying asthma free. Children with asthma and other respiratory problems will thank you!

Click here for information about green cleaning and safer disinfectants, wall paints, computers, office equipment, and art supplies.