EWG’S HEALTHY HOME TIPS: TIP 8 – GET RID OF THAT (TOXIC) DUST


 

EWGDust bunnies aren’t just unsightly and sometimes allergenic; they contain toxic chemicals. Why? The many chemicals in and around your homes wind up in your indoor dust when they migrate from home products and come in through open doors and windows and on your shoes. But the good news is it’s pretty easy to keep those dust bunnies at bay — and reduce your family’s toxic exposures, too. Read on to learn:

  1. Why your household dust is toxic
  2. How toxic dust can affect your family
  3. Tips to remove dust safely and effectively
  4. How to create less toxic dust in the first place

 

  1. WHY YOUR HOUSEHOLD DUST IS TOXIC

    Every home has a little dust — and its own unique “dust load,” based on a variety of factors like where you live, what you cook, if you smoke, the climate, and how many people — and animals — live there. Ordinary house dust is a complex mixture of generally yucky stuff — pet dander, fungal spores, tiny particles, soil tracked in on your feet, carpet fibers, human hair and skin, you name it. It’s also a place where harmful chemicals are found. One recent study by the Silent Spring Institute identified 66 endocrine-disrupting compounds in household dust tests, including flame retardants, home-use pesticides, and phthalates.

    The chemicals in your dust originate from both inside and outside your house:

    1. Products inside your house “shed” chemicals over time — furniture, electronics, shoes, plastics, fabrics and food, among other things.
    2. Outdoor pollutants enter on your shoes and through open and cracked windows and doors.

    Once inside, the contaminants in indoor dust degrade more slowly (if at all) than they would outside in the environment where moisture and sunlight typically break them down.

    One type of toxic chemical commonly found in household dust is chemical flame retardants (aka PBDEs). As highly flammable synthetic materials have replaced less-combustible natural materials, PBDEs have been added to thousands of everyday products, including computers, TVs and furniture — among many others. EWG conducted tests in 2004 that revealed the surprising degree to which flame retardant chemicals escape from consumer products and settle in household dust (from degrading foam or the plastics in electronic items).

  2. HOW TOXIC DUST CAN AFFECT YOUR FAMILY

    When you’re exposed to certain toxic chemicals — even at very low doses — your health can be adversely affected. Dust is simply another way for the toxic chemicals in your house to reach your body.

    Young children are of special concern because their developing bodies are more vulnerable to toxic exposures, and they ingest or inhale more dust than adults since they — and their toys — spend lots of time on or very near the floor. They also put dusty hands and toys in their mouths often. Scientists once thought children got lead poisoning by literally chewing on windowsills. We’ve since learned that it’s actually caused by their normal play behaviors because contaminants like lead stick around in house dust.

    In the case of fire retardants, which are commonly found in household dust, scientists have found that exposure to minute doses of toxic PBDEs at critical points in a child’s development can damage reproductive systems and cause deficits in motor skills, learning, memory and hearing, as well as changes in behavior. Read EWG’s 2004 report about toxic fire retardants in household dust.

    A note about allergies. Dust is a well-known allergen — with or without the toxic chemicals. If you’re allergic to dust, there are preventive steps you can take to reduce your contact with it. The Mayo Clinic has a list of lifestyle and home remedies.

  3. TIPS TO REMOVE DUST SAFELY AND EFFECTIVELY

    Careful cleaning is a simple way to get rid of toxic dust. Here’s how:

    • Vacuum frequently and use a vacuum fitted with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. These vacuums are more efficient at trapping small particles and will likely remove contaminants and other allergens from your home that a regular vacuum would recirculate into the air. Change the filter to keep it working well, and don’t forget to vacuum the stuffed furniture (get under those couch cushions)!
    • Wet mop uncarpeted floors frequently to prevent dust from accumulating (dry mopping can kick up dust that simply resettles). Buy wooden furniture or furniture filled with down, wool, polyester, or cotton as these are unlikely to contain added fire retardant chemicals.
    • Wipe furniture with a wet or microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths work well because their smaller fibers cling to the particles. If you don’t have a microfiber cloth, wet a cotton cloth — it grabs and holds the dust better than a dry one. Skip synthetic sprays and wipes when you dust — they only add unwanted chemicals.
    • Caulk and seal cracks and crevices to prevent dust from accumulating in hard-to-reach places.
    • Equip your forced-air heating or cooling system with high-quality filters and change them frequently to keep them working well.
    • Keep electronic equipment dust-free by damp dusting it frequently; this is a common source of chemical fire retardants in dust.
    • Pay special attention to places where little kids crawl, sit and play. They live closest to our floors and as a result tend to be more exposed to those toxic dust bunnies.
    • If you’re dust sensitive, consider asking someone else to do the dusty cleaning.
  4. CREATE DUST THAT’S LESS TOXIC IN THE FIRST PLACE

    You can reduce the amount of toxic chemicals that wind up in your household dust by bringing fewer toxic chemicals into the house in the first place. We suggest that you:

    • Leave your shoes at the door and use a natural doormat. Shoes are a common way we bring outdoor pollutants inside.
    • Inspect foam products made between 1970 and 2005 — they’re likely to contain PBDEs.Replace anything with a ripped cover or foam that is misshapen and breaking down. If you can’t replace these items, try to keep the covers intact and clean them more frequently. Some examples of household foam products are: stuffed/upholstered furniture, nursing pillows, padded high-chair seats, portable crib mattresses, baby changing pads, and chair cushions.
    • Choose home electronics without PBDEs. There are manufacturers who no longer use them in some products — ask before you buy and support companies that have publicly committed to going PBDE-free, like: Acer, Apple, Eizo Nanao, LG Electronics, Lenovo, Matsushita, Microsoft, Nokia, Phillips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony-Ericsson, and Toshiba.
    • Stick to products made with natural fibers that are naturally fire resistant and may contain fewer chemicals — like wood furniture, cotton, down and wool.
    • Clean up quickly and thoroughly when you finish a home improvement project, since these can involve dust (from sanding or drilling) and toxic products (like lead, PCBs and fire retardants).
    • Consider a high efficiency “HEPA-filter” air cleaner, which may also reduce contaminants that become dust in your house.

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history… may 30


1937 Memorial Day Massacre: Chicago Police Department shoot and kill 10 unarmed demonstrators during the “Little Steel Strike” in the United States

1908 1st federal workmen’s compensation law approved

1868 “Decoration Day”, later called Memorial Day is first observed in Northern US states

1848 Mexico ratifies treaty giving U.S.; New Mexico, California and parts of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado in return for $15 million

1822 House slave betrays Denmark Vesey conspiracy (37 blacks hanged)

Facts and Case Summary — Korematsu v. U.S. May 30


Background

About 10 weeks after the U.S. entered World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942 signed Executive Order 9066. The order authorized the Secretary of War and the armed forces to remove people of Japanese ancestry from what they designated as military areas and surrounding communities in the United States. These areas were legally off limits to Japanese aliens and Japanese-American citizens.

The order set in motion the mass transportation and relocation of more than 120,000 Japanese people to sites the government called detention camps that were set up and occupied in about 14 weeks. Most of the people who were relocated lived on the West Coast and two-thirds were American citizens. In accordance with the order, the military transported them to some 26 sites in seven western states, including remote locations in Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona.

Facts

Fred Korematsu, 23, was a Japanese-American citizen who did not comply with the order to leave his home and job, despite the fact that his parents had abandoned their home and their flower-nursery business in preparation for reporting to a camp.  Korematsu planned to stay behind.  He had plastic surgery on his eyes to alter his appearance; changed his name to Clyde Sarah; and claimed that he was of Spanish and Hawaiian descent.

On May 30, 1942, about six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the FBI arrested Korematsu for failure to report to a relocation center.  After his arrest, while waiting in jail, he decided to allow the American Civil Liberties Union to represent him and make his case a test case to challenge the constitutionality of the government’s order. Korematsu was tried in federal court in San Francisco, convicted of violating military orders issued under Executive Order 9066, given five years on probation, and sent to an Assembly Center in San Bruno, CA.

Korematsu’s attorneys appealed the trial court’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which agreed with the trial court that he had violated military orders.  Korematsu asked the Supreme Court of the United States to hear his case. On December 18, 1944, a divided Supreme Court ruled, in a 6-3 decision, that the detention was a “military necessity” not based on race. 

Source: and for the complete article … uscourts.gov

USDA Provides Food Safety Tips to Grilling Pros and Beginners


USDA Logo

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2021 — As millions of Americans get ready to commemorate Memorial Day and welcome summer, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds people to keep it safe this weekend: follow the latest CDC guidance for COVID-19 and remember your food safety practices.

Rates of foodborne illness tend to increase during the summer months because germs grow faster in warmer, more humid weather. People also cook and eat outside, making shortcuts to food safety tempting because they are away from the convenience of soap and running water at the kitchen sink.

“Memorial Day marks the beginning of warmer weather and summer fun,” said Sandra Eskin, USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “Don’t let foodborne illness ruin the cookout –follow food safety guidelines like washing your hands, thoroughly cooking your food and checking food temperature with a thermometer.”

For those who choose to celebrate outdoors, USDA has some advice for grilling novices and pros.

Black Wall Street NEIGHBOURHOOD, TULSA, OKLAHOMA ~ Black History


Greenwood, Tulsa: Black Wall Street before the Tulsa Race Massacre

Black Wall Street, former byname of the Greenwood neighbourhood in TulsaOklahoma, where in the early 20th century African Americans had created a self-sufficient prosperous business district. The term Black Wall Street was used until the Tulsa race riot of 1921. The name has also been applied more generally to districts of African American high economic activity.

Historically, African Americans worked mainly as servants in Tulsa, where they developed their own insular society with its own economy. Black businesses clustered on the strip of land that would become Greenwood in 1905, when African Americans acquired the land. Businesses included a grocery store and a barbershop. Doctors and real estate agents opened their own businesses. The neighbourhood also had its own newspaper and schools.

Black Wall Street was thriving at the time of the Tulsa race riot of 1921. The riot, however, took a heavy financial toll on African Americans. Many homes and businesses were destroyed. Moreover, following the riot, residents of Greenwood met resistance to rebuild. Nonetheless, African American professionals and entrepreneurs slowly began to rebuild. Lawyers offered legal assistance to African Americans jailed in the riots and helped them sue the city for compensation. A massive reconstruction of the district was completed in 1922, only one year after the riot and without the help of the greater Tulsa community. Eighty businesses were opened by the end of 1922.

The community thrived throughout the first half of the century, even during the Great Depression. In addition to the usual businesses, the area formerly known as Black Wall Street contained a business college and the reopened offices of the African American newspaper. Many middle- and upper-class African Americans lived there. In addition, it provided the backbone for greater civic and political participation by Tulsa’s African American residents.

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By the end of the 1950s, however, more than half of the businesses had closed. Desegregation allowed the entry of businesses owned by whites, while increasing numbers of African Americans in the community invested in entities outside Greenwood.

By 1961, 90 percent of African American income in Tulsa was spent outside of the Greenwood district.

The creation of the Greenwood Cultural Center, formed in the late 1970s, attracted tourism to the area. In addition to addressing African American culture and working on creating more harmonious race relations in the city, the cultural centre was charged with preserving Black Wall Street. It was also responsible for building the 1921 Black Wall Street Memorial in the name of the people who had died in the riot.

This article was most recently revised and updated by André Munro, Assistant Editor.

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