Kids Playing Outside 3As the days get warmer, your kids and your inner child will head outside to enjoy the outdoors! Do you know if your play area is safe for your family? 

Playing outside is great fun and exercise, but dirt around older homes can contain lead. Unfortunately, lead was used in gasoline many years ago and can now be found along our curbs and yards - especially homes near freeways. 

Lead is a heavy metal and a poison to the human body; It is the #1 environmental health threat impacting children under the age of six. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, hyperactivity, learning disability, and aggressive behavior. Without an identifiable smell or taste, it is up to us to take precautions to protect ourselves.

Here are some tips to keep the kiddos happy and safe!

  • Cover bare soil with grass, mulch, wood chips, stones, bark or gravel to avoid exposure to lead, which may be in the soil.
  • If you have bare soil, it's time to do some planting!
  • If you are planning on making home improvements to the exterior of your house (i.e. repainting), make sure you or your contractor use lead-safe work practices. This includes: safely containing any dust, thus avoiding lead contaminated dust from filtering into indoor of your home. For more information about lead-safe work practices, contact EHC.
  • If you are at a new play area and you do not know if the bare soil is contaminated, tell your kids to stick to the #1 Play Rule: Play in the grass, not in the dirt!
  • When it is time to go inside your home, ask your children to remove their shoes or wipe them off at the doormat.
  • When heading outside to play, be sure to turn off all of your household lights to save energy, save money, and help our planet!

The results are in: Solar matters!

latino voters pollOn Thursday, poll results were finalized by the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) to reveal the large majority of Latinos in Southern California support and want to see a shift toward rooftop solar energy in our communities. The findings are very similar to those of a survey done last year, and further support EHC's movement for green, clean energy and illustrate the increasing prioritization of solar panel energy in Latino urban neighborhoods most affected by air pollution and dirty energy.

Some key survey results include:

80% believe that our state legislators should make it a high priority to increase the amount of rooftop solar energy in California;
70% support the net metering law that allows owners of rooftop solar panels to receive fair credit for the excess energy they generate. Industry analysts credit net metering as the cornerstone policy for continued solar growth
• The core value statement behind the net metering law is even more popular: 74% agree with the statement "if customers are required to buy power from the utility at a certain price, the utility should have to buy excess power created by customers' solar panels at the same price";
More than half (54%) strongly agreed with the statement "growing the state's solar energy industry will create new jobs in California
60% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate who opposed policies to support the green economy

Solar rooftop energy will have numerous positive effects on our communities by:

• Decreasing the carbon emissions catalyzing climate change
Creating more jobs and boosting local economies
• Transitioning neighborhoods away from dirty, toxic air toward clean, breathable air
• Reducing preventable health diseases (such as asthma) directly associated with poor air quality

This survey tells us that Latinos' priorities have become clean energy for both local economy and public health initiatives and solar power will be a major issue in future elections. It is clear our communities are ready for positive environmental changes to happen right in our backyards – or, in this case, right on our rooftops.

For more information on this survey and the results, visit http://causecleanair.org/what-do-latino-voters-in-southern-california-think-about-rooftop-solar/.

Anibals blog postEl pasado 31 de mayo EHC, grupos ambientalistas y residentes de las colonias Chilpancingo y 10 de Mayo aprovecharon la visita a Tijuana del director de la Comisión Nacional del Agua, David Korenfeld, para entregar un escrito pidiendo la conservación de la tercera etapa del Arroyo Alamar.

Ana Langarica, residente cercana al Alamar explicó, "lo que le pedimos es que haga un proyecto sustentable en el arroyo Alamar que no se encemente como en la primera y segunda etapa del arroyo, por eso le pedimos que se haga un proyecto sustentable".

Por su parte el titular de la Conagua, David Korenfeld se comprometió a revisar el asunto. "Me están entregando un documento que lo analizaremos en el ámbito de nuestra competencia y si no,  pues lo canalizaremos con el área correspondiente para el efecto de determinar y ver cuál es la circunstancia de nuestra participación", indicó.

Our final post for May's Allergy Awareness Month features tips on how to prevent household mold from affecting your family's health by using natural cleaners.

Mold growth inside the home can be hazardous to your family’s health, causing allergic reactions, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, asthma, and skin rash.  However, mold can be eliminated from your home using natural cleaners.

baking soda_cleanerBaking soda is well known as a natural and safe household cleaner. Unlike other mold killers which contain harsh chemicals, baking soda is mild (pH of 8.1) and harmless to your family and any pets. Besides killing mold, baking soda also deodorizes and so using it can get rid of the smell mold leaves in your home. Baking soda also absorbs moisture to help keep mold away.

                How to Kill Mold with Baking Soda:

  • Add ¼ tablespoon of baking soda to a spray bottle of water. Shake well.
  • Spray moldy area with baking soda/water solution.
  • Use a sponge or scrub brush to remove the mold from the surface.
  • Once the mold is gone, rinse the area with water to remove the residual.
  • Spray the area with the solution again and let dry. This will kill any left over mold and prevent it from returning.

Vinegar is often used along with baking soda when cleaning up a mold problem since vinegar kills different species of mold. Vinegar is a mild acid which can kill 82% of mold species. However it also has the advantages of being natural and safe. Vinegar is non-toxic and doesn't give off dangerous fumes like bleach does. If you want to use vinegar to prevent mold growing on surfaces just spray vinegar on the surface and leave it. Repeat this every few days to ensure the surface will stay mold-free.

Controlling the source of moisture inside the house is necessary to eliminate mold growth. Mold grows when air-born spores (invisible to the naked eye) land on a wet or damp surface. Indoor mold has potential to cause ill health effects resulting from inhalation. 

silvia_leon_asthma_triggers_childrenThis story was originally published at blog.livingwithasthma.net on May 6, 2013.

Silvia León shared her story of asthma awareness and her son's asthma triggers in honor of World Asthma Day:

Asthma Story- I visit many families every month and I am able to hear personal stories about their children's asthma. Mostly all families are using bleach and many other household cleaning products to disinfect their homes. Most of the time families are not aware that using windex, bleach, ajax, comex, and many others can be asthma triggers. Our non-toxic kits and recommendations is an easy way to start to change the air quality of their home. The air that children breathe while inside their home is what is causing the asthma most of the time, because studies show that we spend about 80% of our time in our house. So if mommy used bleach to clean the strong smell, and/or other chemicals, kids breathe that in and it can cause an attack.

Asthma Tips- My son has asthma and his triggers have diminished greatly because I do the following:

  • Use non-toxic cleaning products
  • Throw their pillows in the dryer once a week
  • Use aller-ease mattress covers
  • Put baking soda on their bedroom carpet to absorb more dust than the vacuum alone can
  • Throw stuffed animals in the dryer
  • Open windows for ventilation
  • Keep pets outside.
  • I am very pro-active and informed. Information is the key!

For more information on Sylvia's efforts, please visit the following links:

Environmental Health Blog: Protecting Your Child From Asthma Attacks
Environmental Health Twitter
Environmental Health Healthy Kids Twitter