Archive for Recycling & Waste

Help with Household Hazards

It’s just like those creepy tales of childhood about what might be lurking down in the old, dark basement…The picture here tells a thousand tales of flaking paint, old tires, paint cans a-plenty and the pipe with duct tape around it like a much-needed bandage.

I’ve hauled up the tires to the front porch, along with at least a dozen paint cans.  One thing typical of basements is the hazardous chemicals stored in them, from old paints and stains to lawn pesticides, to toxic cleaning products. According to the EPA, the typical home generates about 30 pounds (about the weight of a medium-sized dog) of household hazardous waste (HHW) every year, for an annual total of about 1.6 million tons nationally.

With the tires and paint cans corraled on the front porch, I’ll wait for the county’s Hazardous Waste Collection Day, when they can be dropped off for safe disposal.  Most counties list these collection events, which are usually free to residents, on their websites.  They’re a healthier solution than allowing these toxic household chemicals to sit around, where a child or teen could come into contact with them, or pollute the waterways when dumped down the sink. The EPA has more ideas, including recycling options for HHW, on their website.

Of course, the best solution is to avoid buying toxic products in the first place, so our homes are always healthier and we have that much less to haul up from the basement.

Day One: Family Safety During Reno

We closed on the house today!  As a single mom, I’m grateful and blessed for this opportunity.  After all the formalities, my first trip was to the hardware store to get “outfitted” for reno this afternoon with protective goggles, face masks, and heavy-duty gloves. The EPA covers the basics of what’s needed in protective gear in their “Good Work Practices During Remodeling” — definitely a must-read before starting any home reno project.

Children need special protection from the pollutants lurking in old homes because pound for pound of body weight, they take in more air, consume for food and drink more water, according to the Alliance for Healthy Homes, an essential resource for parents thinking about remodelling. Kids also tend to play close to the ground, where toxins such as lead often settle.  Frequent hand-to-mouth activity also places children at greater risk than adults.

In short, kids should not come in contact with any remodelling or construction work area.  Despite their curiosity, they need a safe space until both the work is done and completely cleaned up, whether that means living with family or friends temporarily, or sealing away the work area according to EPA standards.  Keeping kids completely off the property is the family rule for the Healthy Home Project.

With this house, the asbestos was thankfully removed several weeks ago when the boiler leaked and had to be replaced. I got the certification papers at the closing showing that the house is now asbestos-free.  When choosing an abatement contractor, the company must be licensed and have a good reputation…to avoid surprises. I asked for certification of their work on company letterhead documenting what was done.

This afternoon I took down drop ceilings in four rooms.  Two of the rooms had two ceilings each…one over another. It wouldn’t have happened without assistance from a young man who works at the local hardware store and was an amazing help!

Recapping Day One…have in place a safe family living arrangement during renovation, keeping children away from the work area, get proper protection for the job at hand, and accept help when needed!