The Maids of Portland, Maine

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Study highlights pervasive impact of consumer products on air quality in homes

A study published in Environmental Science & Technology provides the most comprehensive information to date on the mixtures of hormone disrupting chemicals people are commonly exposed to in their homes. It also confirms that indoor uses of consumer products are the primary sources of endocrine disrupting exposures in indoor air, and shows that indoor levels are higher than those outdoors.
Researchers from Silent Spring Institute analyzed 104 chemicals in 50 homes including both chemicals that penetrate indoors from outdoor industrial and transportation sources and those from indoor use of consumer products and building materials. Among those found were phthalates, parabens, PBDE flame retardants, PCBs, and pesticides, all widely used in homes, but suspected to have adverse health effects such as cancer and reproductive, neurological, and thyroid disorders.
Unlike industrial and transportation pollutants and pesticides, which vary a lot geographically, the authors note that pollutants from consumer products (plastics, furniture, cleaning products, cosmetics, etc.) do not vary widely geographically or demographically. This is significant because it shows the pervasive effects of common consumer products on indoor air quality.

Monday, October 24, 2011

7 Supermarket Foods to Avoid

In a recent article, seven experts in the fields of both food and the environment (scientists, doctors and farmers) were asked just one simple question: "What foods do you avoid?" Their responses had nothing to do with calories or nutrient-density, but all to do with their insider knowledge on how certain seemingly "healthy" foods that they closely work with are produced and packaged. The findings are scary . If the farmer who grows the food won't eat it himself, then we won't touch it either. Here's a summary of the findings. You can add these seven to your 'Foods to Avoid' list:
1.) Canned Tomatoes :
An endocrinologist and expert on the topic of the synthetic oestrogen bisphenol-A (BCA), linked to heart disease and infertility, won't go near canned tomatoes. Tin cans are lined with a resin containing BCA which is especially a problem with canning tomatoes, as the acid in tomato breaks this down in dangerous amounts. This is a serious health concern for everyone who loves a Spag Bol, especially children. Our advice: if you still want the convenience of stored, ready-to-cook tomatoes, opt for sauces and pasta in glass bottles.
2.) Conventional Beef:
For fat cows (and fat people) feed them grain, corn and soy. This is what farmers do to increase profits. The end product is meat that is nutritionally inferior. Cows were meant to eat grass. Studies show that grass-fed beef (compared to corn-fed) is higher in important vitamins, minerals and the heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory fats. Then there's also the issue of all the antibiotics used on those inappropriately-fed, sick cows... Our advice: Look for "grass-fed" or "pasture-fed" organic beef from strong healthy beasts.
3.) Microwave Popcorn:
Another poisonous packaging issue: Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) lines the bags of those popcorn bags, and the heat in the microwave leaches this straight onto your movie munchies. The UCLA links this compound to infertility. Our advice: Corn kernels + butter + sea salt + plus a big pot (with a lid!) Simple.
4.) Conventional Potatos:
More than any other vegetable, non-organic potatoes are heavily sprayed with herbicides, pesticides and fungicides throughout every stage of their growth, harvesting and storage. So much so that potato growers never eat the potatoes they sell and grow their own separate plots without all the chemicals. Our advice: Organic or Bio-dynamic potatoes only.
5.) Farmed Salmon:
This is particularly scary considering that in Australia, the only fresh Salmon we have access to is farmed; all farmed, this includes "Atlantic" Salmon. These fish are crammed in pens and fed all manner of junk from soy and hydrolyzed chicken feathers and pellets. A scientific study on fish contamination showed high levels of DDT and PCB's (carcinogens). So serious were the findings that the director for the Institute for Health warns that any more than one salmon meal every 5 months increases your cancer risk. Not to mention that fact that the levels of Omega 3 and Vitamin D are devoid in these poor factory-versions that their wild, up-stream-swimming ancestors contain. Our advice: For fresh fish, choose small & wild varieties wherever available. For salmon in Australia, your only wild option is out of a tin. Look for brands like Paramount Wild Alaskan Salmon, or other brands form Norway and Canada are often wild too. Even still, eat these only occasionally.
6.) Coventional Milk:
Dairy cows today are fed growth hormones to maximize milk production. Not only does this make for a potentially breast/prostate/colon cancer milk shake, but it also leads to increased incidence of udder infection for the poor cow, leading to pus in the milk. Our advice: if you do drink cows' milk, make sure it states clearly on the label that it is produced without artificial hormones, and ideally choose organic whole milk from pasture-fed cows.
7.) Coventional Apples:
There's no coincidence that farm workers have higher rates of many cancers. Of all common fruits, apples are the most heavily and frequently doused with pesticides. Pesticide reside on conventional fruits is also linked to Parkinson's. To limit exposure, be wary of apples especially. Our advice: Organic. Or at the very least, wash and peel.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cleaning Up After Halloween Pranks

a.) Eggs- The most common item in the prankster's arsenal, the one that can leave your car and house a scrambled mess. Eggs can cause a great deal of damage if left to bake in the sun because they can corrode paint surfaces within hours. A powerwashing is one of the best ways to remove the egg. If it is already a stuck-on mess, or on a painted surface, use one part warm water, one part vinegar, and a little Dawn dish detergent as your cleaning solution. Pick out the shells first so they do not leave scratches, and hold a wet sponge or rag against the egg for a few minutes to loosen the egg before you gently scrub it away.
b.) Silly String- It's not that funny when this stuff is sprayed all over your property. This stuff can damage paint on cars , and it will adhere to painted surfaces. Hose off as much as possible before it dries. Be very careful if you try to scrape it off of painted materials, including your car, because it can pull the paint off with it. Try dish detergent and water as a cleaning solution first.
c.) Toilet Paper- This one may seem like a no-brainer to clean up... that is, when you can reach it. Also, if you do not get it out of the trees before it rains you could end up with clumps stuck in the branches. If you do beat Mother Nature to the punch, you can use a rake or expandable painter's pole to reach the toilet paper and pull it down. Or you can try wrapping duct tape around the pole ( glue side out ) to stick and retrieve the paper.
d.) Shaving Cream- It may be harmless to your skin, but this stuff can leave permanant marks on cars, asphalt, and painted surfaces if it is not cleaned off before it dries. The easiest way to remove it is with the power washer, or to simply wash it away with a non-abrasive sponge and Simple Green.
Don't forget a good defense sometimes is the best offense. Move all your pumpkins inside for the night, or put them out back, and store any lawn ornaments, planters, and furniture in the yard, shed or garage. The more you leave out in plain sight, the more tempting of a target your house becomes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Raising An Eco-Minded Child In Todays Throw-Away World

Parenting is tough. Not only are you charged with raising a child to be physically and emotionally healthy but also socially responsible. In this age of melting ice-caps, overflowing landfills and dwindling natural resources , it's more important than ever to raise an eco-friendly child. Here are some ways you can instill environmentally conscious values:
~*~ Start Them Young:
Make them green babies. Consider using cloth diapers and invest in organic baby blankets and clothing to keep your baby chemical free.
~*~ Make Your House an Eco-friendly House:
Choose non-toxic cleaners or take advantage of the cleaning power of baking soda and white vinegar.
~*~ Green Their Play Time:
For babies and toddlers choose wooden toys over plastic. For older kids, take a break from electronics and lead a nature wlak.
~*~ Make Recycling Fun:
Let the kids decorate the recycling bin to make it their own. Reward them when they put in their cans and bottles. Make sure they know the difference they are making with one sipmle step.
~*~ Teach Them The Importance of Conservation:
Encourage your children to turn off and unplug lights and electronics when not in use. On a nice day, let them help you hang clothes on a clothesline.
~*~ Volunteer:
Teach your kids about the importance of giving back! A parent is the strongest role model so make sure you lead by example. Conserve water and energy when you can, choose alternative fabrics and know that even the smallest gestures will teach your kids that being environmentally responsible is a responsibility that we all share.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Some Seriously Disturbing Facts About Soda

~>The soda, or beverage, industry is truly amazing. No matter how horrible the drinks are for your health, your wallet, and even your taste buds (let's admit it, most soda drinks are kind of disgusting) the industry is worth over $500 billion and continuing to grow with the support of millions of addicted customers! More surprising is that the government mandates that all bottled beverages be pasteurized, so all of the claims about vitamins, minerals, and other healthy benefits are direct lies.pasteurization is the process of heating up the liquid before bottling to kill harmful bacteria thus killing the good stuff. The worst of the different types of beverages is the massive soda industry that makes up more than 60% of the entire beverage industry.
~>According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, Americans drink more than 50 gallons per capita of carbonated soft drinks each year. That adds up to thousands of extra calories, sugar, and who knows what else. For example, if Coke Classic is your drink at 96 calories per can, it adds up to 77,300 calories per year and 43,100 mg of caffeine per year.Other drinks studied included bottled water, coffee, fruit beverages, milk, tea, beer, wine, spirits and carbonated soft drinks. Of the nine, soda made up the largest segment of beverages consumed and the U.S. as the highest per-capita soda consumer in the world. But what is all this soda doing to our bodies? To know exactly what you're drinking, have a look at these ten seriously disturbing facts about soda.
1. The Increased Risk of Osteoporosis: This disease is a serious condition that can result in tremendous pain with fractures caused by thinning of the bones. Those at risk include seniors, women, smokers, and now those who regularly consume soda. Experts speculate that replacing calcium rich drinks, such as milk, with soda is leading to a deficiency and therefore an increase in osteoporosis. WebMD has more in this expert article.
2. Passing Soda May be Harder Than You Think: According to a study in the "Journal of Clinical Epidemiology," phosphate-based soft drinks have been proposed as a contributor to kidney stones. It looked at over 1,000 male patients who both formed kidney stones and were consumers of a significant amount of soda to see what effect soda might have on stone recurrence. Those who consumed phosphate-based sodas in the largest quantities had the highest rate of kidney stone recurrence.
3. Soda-holics on the Rise: Much like alcohol or any other narcotic, soda can become an addiction. In fact, due to its high levels of caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and sodium, it is difficult to tell which consumers become addicted to, if not all three. This addiction can lead to a variety of health problems, including weight gain, diabetes, and tooth erosion. This article at Suite 101 has loads more.
4. Annual Costs Can be Huge: With a twelve pack of soda averaging three to four dollars, have you ever stopped to think how much that costs per year? If your family drinks three per week, the annual cost is $546. With a soda tax looming, it can easily bloom to approximately $790.5. Linked to Tooth Decay: According to a report published in "General Dentistry," the phosphoric acid in soda causes tooth enamel erosion, even with minimal exposure. In fact, a spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry says that the levels of acid found in sodas are comparable to that of a battery. There are also dangers for your teeth associated with the high sugar content of soda.
5. Linked To Tooth Decay: According to a report published in " General Dentistry," the phosphoric acid in soda causes tooth enamel erosion, even with minimal exposure. There are also dangers for your teeth associated with the high sugar content of soda.
6. Mountain Dew Syndrome: Did you know that Central Appalachia is America's number one spot for tooth decay? This is contributed to by poor diet, lack of access to dental care, and a love of soda, particularly Mountain Dew. This condition has become so common it is referred to as Mountain Dew Syndrome. Another disturbing fact about soda is that it was found to be used as a self-medicated anti-depressant.
7. What's Not On The Label: Studies have found that soda served from fast food fountains contain coliform bacteria, which is linked to fecal matter. To make matters worse, the bacteria was found to be resistant to eleven antibiotics.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

5 Humane, Yet Effective, Ways to Get Rid of Mice

It's that time of year when our houses start to fill up with unwanted guests. If you would rather not kill the little creatures, even though they do show up uninvited and their droppings are an unhealthy mess, The Maids offers advice on how some folks deal humanely with such guests:
~> 1.) Susan Womersley, who lives in an old farmhouse in Topeka, Kansas, puts an empty box of peppermint tea in her paper recyclables and noticed the mouse activity dropped dramatically. Now she places a few squares of cotton cloth sprinkled with peppermint oil in the pantry, refreshing them as needed. " No mice, and it smells wonderful!" she reports.
~> 2.) Norn Noe of Vancover, Washington, places small, peppermint-soaked cotton balls around his kitchen and slips them into the walls behind plug sockets. " Twenty-four hours later, no sign of the mice at all," he reports.
~> 3.) About once a month, Milton Ammel of Parker, Kansas, mixes a half gallon of apple cider vinegar with 2 gallons of water and sprinkles it around the outside of his house. "We haven't seen mice around for a long time," he reports.
~> 4.) When Randy Orcutt of Hillsboro, Ohio, was having trouble with mice in his camper, he placed Bounce regular scent dryer sheets in the drawers and cabinets. " All the mice left quickly," he reports, but the generic sheets did not have the same effect.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Is Your House A Health Threat?

A home should be a calm, welcoming haven, and for most of us,it is. But any house, no matter how well cared for, can also be dangerous. Household accidents cause at least 20,000 deaths every year; poisoning and falls are the top two culprits. Our simple guide is designed to make your house safer- a place you can not wait to come home to!
Your Air:
~ Test for radon. Exposure to this invisible, odorless gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the country, behind smoking.
~ Make a clean-air investment. A high-quality air filtration system will neutralize most floating germs, as well as dust, some mold spores, and other pollutants that may contribute to allergies and asthma, especially in kids.
~ Go low-Voc.Volatile organic compounds are chemicals emitted by a variety of products, including some paints, carpets, furnishings, insulation, and even permanent markers. Look for low-Voc labels on paints, finishes, carpets and furniture.
~ Ban smoking. A fireplace is cozy, but studies show that smoke from fires or stoves can contain pollutants similar to those in auto exhaust. Help keep your air clear by burning only dry, well seasoned wood.
Your TV:
~ Clean the clicker. A much-used remote control harbors nearly as much bacteria as a toilet's flush handle.
~ Stablize your screens. Last year, more than 14,000 children visited emergency rooms because a TV or other heavy piece of furniture fell on them. Check that the mounting apparatus of your TV is secure.
~ Switch them off once in awhile. Studies show that parts of our brain light up when the TV is turned off.
Your Floors:
~ Remove your shoes. Lead is uncommon in most homes, unless we track it in. People can pick up lead particles on their shoes, which could happen, say, by walking past construction sites. These and other contaminants that cling to your soles can be transferred to the floor, where children play.