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Design/Decorating

Wednesday
Nov162011

Lead Poisoning Prevention Coalition Getting More U.S. Federal Funds For Healthy Homes Initiative

Lead poisoning from home exposure is growing into an increasingly rampant problem across the nation.

Nearly a quarter of a million children living in the United States have blood lead levels high enough to cause significant damage to their health, estimates the  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on data from a 2003–2004 national survey.

Major sources of lead exposure among U.S. children are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings, says the CDC.

Across the U.S., lead-based paint was used throughout the 1900s, until it was banned from residential use in 1978.

Now, “every year, unhealthy housing is the source of an estimated 250,000 new cases of childhood lead poisoning,” adds the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, which just received a $930,000 federal grant from the Healthy Homes Production Program.

The national non-profit implements and promotes programs and policies designed to reduce lead exposure to children by creating green, healthy homes.

The funds will support the continuation of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) in Baltimore, where the non-profit is based. The initiative is a collaboration between the Coalition, local and federal government agencies, and other philanthropic partners.

The funds will be used to provide services for 200 homes to create healthy, sustainable, and energy efficient environments for families. The Baltimore initiative is one of 17 GHHI programs nationwide.

 Last month, during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of the Coalition, said, “While we have made significant progress toward our goal of eradicating childhood lead poisoning, the job is far from over.

“There are still more than one million children in the U.S. with elevated blood lead levels, causing irreparable harm to their physical and mental health and robbing them of opportunities to learn, grow, and reach their full potential.”

“Lead is a known neurotoxin and carcinogen capable to harming all of the body’s major systems and is particularly devastating to proper development in children under six years of age,” said the Coalition.

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Friday
Oct072011

Benedictine Boarding School Grows Greener With New Eco-Friendly Homes For Faculty Families

Blu ‘Evolution’ home exterior. Photo courtesy of Blu Homes.

The Portsmouth Abbey School is in the process expanding its living space, with the addition of two new eco-friendly designed homes for two of its faculty members and their families, as part of the school’s expanding green initiatives.

The two new homes are being built by Blu Homes, which designs and builds of upscale, eco-friendly manufactured homes, home additions, offices, and structures. 

The two-story Blu ‘Evolution’ style homes will be Energy Star-rated and LEED certified. All of the appliances will be Energy Star certified.

Blu ‘Evolution’ homes are very large and come in designs that include three-to-four bedrooms, one-to-two bathrooms, and special features like roof decks, high ceilings, large kitchens, and spacious floor plans.

Kitchen design in an ‘Evolution’ style home. Photo courtesy of Blu Homes.

“The Blu homes, in particular, are very desirable for our faculty. The space is just a great space to be living in. Our faculty are responsible for their own energy costs, so the energy efficiency of these is good for the two families that are going to be living here,” said James DeVecchi, headmaster of Portsmouth.

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Monday
Aug082011

Recycled Glass Countertops: Transforming Waste Into Durable Beauty

Over the last few years, recycled glass countertops have become a popular option for people who are looking for something unusual, beautiful, and that also makes a personal statement about their environmental consciousness.

Terrazzo montage. Courtesy of Green Home Source.

The current spectrum of conventional countertops come in styles made from materials including: plastic laminates; quarried stones like granite; silicate minerals like quartz; metals like stainless steel; and butcher block woods.

While there’s nothing wrong with conventional countertops in terms of beauty and functionality, the biggest reason for considering recycled glass countertops or other terrazzo countertops is that they’re the kindest thing that you can do for the planet in terms of preserving natural resources.

For those that don’t know, terrazzo is the original recycled product, a composite material made for centuries by taking leftover pieces of materials like quartz, granite, glass, or other suitable chips and combining them with a cementing binder to cure and then polish for a beautiful, smooth, textured looking surface.

While terrazzo surfaces are beautiful, since they’re using already existing materials that would otherwise find their way to the landfills, they’re also not taking any existing resources from the environment.

Today, countertops made either exclusively or even partially of recycled glass are also gaining a lot of attention because of the broad range of colors and designs they come in.

Depending on the manufacturer, they require no special maintenance, to quite the bit, though they all have their unique charm. Three of the top makers worth taking a look at are: EnviroGLAS, IceStone, and Vetrazzo.

If you’re the sort that really doesn’t like maintenance, then you are really going to love EnviroGLAS because it doesn’t require you to do any waxing or resealing once the countertop is installed.

EnviroGLAS takes post-consumer and industrial glass and porcelain bound for landfills and creates products including countertops and flooring.

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Friday
Jan072011

Simple Steps for Detoxing Your Kitchen: Creating a Healthier Cooking Environment

Eco-friendly kitchen. Photo courtesy of southernliving.com.

Everyone takes pride in having a spotless modern kitchen, but sometimes that new cookware and all those harsh chemical cleaners can make you as sick as that bacteria that your trying to avoid.

While a kitchen can hide a lot of dangerous chemicals, there are many simple and relatively inexpensive things that everyone can do to minimize their risk of exposure and health problems.

Solutions For Detoxing Your Kitchen

Cookware

Non-stick teflon-coated cookware contain perfluorochemicals (PFCs) which make them resistant to oil, stains, grease, and water, but they also pose a health hazard if scraped off and eaten.

The Minnesota Department of Health found that in laboratory animal, high concentrations of PFCs caused damage to the liver and other organs. Developmental problems also have been seen in the offspring of rats and mice that were exposed to PFCs while pregnant. Safer non-stick alternatives to teflon cookware are stainless-steel and cast-iron.

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Friday
Dec312010

Washed Out Plastics Retrieved From Our World's Oceans Being Used to Build Vacum Cleaners

Electrolux Vac From The Sea - Mediterranean Edition.

Even on the most basic level, plastics have become an essential part of people’s lives - needed to make everything from combs to laptop computers.

What’s also true is that most things made of plastic are petroleum-based, not biodegradable, and finding their way into our oceans.

Kimberly Amaral, a naturalist at the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Cape Cod Bay, says that, “When plastic objects get into main sewers (either by being flushed down the toilet, or carried by rain into street drains), then those objects can float out to sea.

“A more direct route is boaters dumping their trash right into the sea. In the past, this has been the main cause of plastics in the ocean.”

The 5 Gyres Institute, a non-profit collaborative of marine scientists explains that, “Large systems of currents, coupled with wind and the earth’s rotation, create gyres that are massive, slow rotating whirlpools in which plastic trash accumulates.”

Electrolux Vac From The Sea - Pacific Edition.

The North Pacific Gyre is the most heavily researched for plastic pollution, and spans an area roughly twice the size of the United States. The pollution is having a devastating effect on wildlife, and posing great risk to people’s health.

5 Gyre has found that whales, sea turtles, and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.

When marine animals consume plastic trash, presumably mistaking it for food, this can lead to internal blockages, dehydration, starvation, and potentially death. Also of great concern is the potential impact on human health from toxic chemicals entering the marine food chain from plastics.

Most of the research on plastic trash circulating in oceanic gyres has focused on the North Pacific, but the pollution exists in varying extents in all of the five major oceanic gyres around the world, according to 5 Gyre.

In the “Vac From The Sea” public awareness campaign created to bring attention to the problem, Electrolux has teamed up with conservation groups to create five functional display vacuums made from plastics retrieved from the world’s oceans.

Each vacuum cleaner corresponds to the particular ocean body where the plastics were retrieved to make it. The vacuums - which will go on tour - represent the pollution found in the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Baltic Sea.

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