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Spring Cleaning | Dust Mite Neutralizer | Natural Engine Oil | Carbon Water Filtration | Head lice | Control Four Airborne Allergens | Plants to Clean Indoor Air | Six Cautions about Pesticides and Herbicides | Garden Tips | Decorating Tips

Learning to control and protect your environment.

Spring Cleaning
All-Purpose Cleaner
1/2 teaspoon washing soda
2 teaspoons borax
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
2 cups hot water

Combine the washing soda, borax, and soap in a spray bottle. Pour in the hot water (it will dissolve the minerals), screw on the lid, and shake to completely blend and dissolve. Spray every 6 inches or so of surface once or twice, wiping off the cleanser with a rag as you go. For tough dirt, leave the cleanser on for a few minutes before wiping it off. Shake the bottle each time before using.
Shelf Life: Indefinite
Storage: Leave in a labelled spray bottle

Soft Scrubber
Use it on the bathtub, sinks, Formica countertops, and the shower stall.
1/2 cup baking soda
Enough liquid soap or detergent to make a frosting like consistency
5 to 10 drops antibacterial essential oil, such as lavender (optional)
Place the baking soda in a bowl; slowly pour in the liquid soap, stirring all the while, until the consistency reaches that of frosting. Add the essential oil (if using). Scoop the creamy mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, and rinse.
Shelf Life: Make only as much as you need a time; natural soft scrubbers dry out.

Mould cleaner and Inhibitor / Tea Tree Treasure
Tea tree oil is expensive, but a little goes a long way. Unless you have frequent mould crises, this mixture can last for months.
2 teaspoons tea tree oil
2 cups water
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse. The strong odour will dissipate in a day or so.
Shelf Life: Indefinite
Storage: Leave in a labelled spray bottle

All-Purpose Window Wash
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
2 cups water
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle, and shake to blend. Spray on, and then remove with a squeegee, paper towel.
Shelf Life: Indefinite
Storage: Leave in a labelled spray bottle.

Basic Wood Cleaning Formula
This is a good formula for well-used furniture. The vinegar works wonderfully to pull dirt out of wood.
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
A few drops jojoba or olive oil.
Combine the ingredients in a bowl, saturate a sponge with the mixture, and squeeze out the excess and wash surfaces. The smell of vinegar will dissipate in a few hours.
Shelf Life: Indefinite
Storage: Labelled glass jar with a screw top

Floor Cleaner with Fragrant Herbs
1/8 cup liquid soap or detergent
1/4 to 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup fragrant herb tea (peppermint is great as it adds antibacterial qualities)
Combine ingredients in a bucket. Swirl the water around until it is lathers a little. Proceed as normal.
Shelf Life: Discard

Dust Mite Nuetraliser top
There are some tannic acid powders on the market, but you can easily make your own with tannic acid-rich tea, although you need to make sure to test this on the material you are going to spray since tea stains. Make a very, very strong cup of black tea. Strain, cool, and place in a spray bottle. Spray over problem areas.

Natural Engine Oil - Jojoba top
You can use jojoba on squeaky hinges and wheels, and all other places you would usually use a petroleum lubricant.It's a good idea to pour jojoba into a glass eye dropper bottle. With the eye dropper you can place the drops on any squeak with precision. We recommend reusing a washed glass bottle such as one used for herbal tinctures.

Carbon Water Filtration top
Carbon adsorption is the most widely sold method for home water treatment because of its ability to improve water by removing disagreeable tastes and odours, including chlorine. Because of these attributes, carbon filters are very well-suited for homes that use municipally treated water. Only a few carbon filter systems have been certified for the removal of lead, asbestos, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), cysts, and coliform.
There are two types of carbon filter systems, each with advantages and disadvantages: granular activated carbon, and solid block carbon.

Granular Activated Carbon
• Activated carbon effectively removes many chemicals and gases, and in some cases it can be effective against micro organisms. However, generally it will not affect total dissolved solids, hardness, or heavy metals.
• Any granular activated carbon filter has three inherent problems.
--First, it can provide a base for the growth of bacteria. When the carbon is fresh, virtually all organic impurities (not organic chemicals) and even some bacteria are removed. Accumulated impurities, though, can become food for bacteria, enabling them to multiply within the filter.
--Second, chemical recontamination of granular activated carbon filters can occur in a similar way. If the filter is used beyond the point at which it becomes saturated with the impurities it has absorbed, the trapped impurities can release from the surface and re-contaminate the water, with even higher concentrations of impurities than in the untreated water. This saturation point is impossible to predict.
• Third, granular carbon filters are susceptible to channelling. Because the carbon grains are held (relatively) loosely in a bed, open paths can result from the build-up of impurities in the filter and rapid water movement under pressure through the unit. In this situation, contact time between the carbon and the water is reduced, and filtration is less effective.

Solid Block Carbon
• These are created by compressing very fine pulverized activated carbon with a binding medium and fusing them into a solid block. The intricate maze developed within the block ensures complete contact with organic impurities and, therefore, effective removal. Solid block carbon filters avoid the problems just discussed with granular carbon filters.
Block filters can be fabricated to have such a fine porous structure that they filter out coliform and associated disease bacteria, pathogenic cysts such as giardia, and lighter-weight VOCs. Block filters eliminate the problem of channelling. Also, they are so dense that they do not allow the growth of bacteria within the filter.

Helpful Hints:
• Granular Activated Carbon filters must be kept scrupulously clean. They should be replaced every six to twelve months. Block filters need to be replaced more frequently.
Carbon filters come in several styles. Basically, you can purchase one that installs under your sink or at some other remote location; one that sits on the counter; or one that mounts on the end of the faucet.

Head lice top
1.) Lather hair with a coconut-oil castile soap. Add a few drops of tea tree oil and neem oil to the lathered hair. (Health food stores sell castile soap and tea tree oil.)
2. Rinse and rewash with this same mixture.
3. After rewashing, do not rinse, but wrap a towel around the head and wait for half an hour.
4. Comb with a nit-removing comb, strand by strand, until all nits are removed (this takes a while). Dampen hair as needed.
5. Wash and rinse the hair. Once dry, check, thoroughly, for any missed nits.
6. Thoroughly clean the comb, hands, bedding, and clothing. Pillows can be placed in the freezer overnight. You can comb a lice-repellent essential oil through the hair. The best choices of repellent essential oils are tea tree, neem, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, and rose geranium. Add 10 drops of essential oil to 1 oz. oil. Comb through the hair. Or make a tea tree oil shampoo by adding 10 drops of tea tree oil to 1 oz. of shampoo.

Control Four Airborne Allergens top
The best way for you to avoid the signs and symptoms of allergies in your own home is to avoid exposure to the allergens (dust mites, mould, pollen and pet allergen) that cause problems. Effective environmental control can reduce or eliminate the need for medicine.

Eighty percent of people with allergies and asthma test positive to dust mites in allergy skin testing. The microscopic bugs called dust mites and their faecal material thrive in warm and humid places such as beds, upholstered furniture, and carpets and live on the skin cells that people and pets shed. Reducing exposure to dust mite waste is central to effective treatment.
* Wash bedding weekly in hot water. Dry on high to kill dust mites.
* Use anti-allergen encasements for bedding, including pillows, mattresses, duvet covers, and box springs.
* Vacuum thoroughly using a High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filter vacuum and bags that seal in dust.
* Clean thoroughly once a week using equipment that traps dust rather than releasing it back into the air.
* Filter the air with a HEPA air purifier, which will eliminate 99.7 percent of indoor airborne allergens.
* Dehumidify the air. Dust mites thrive in humidity levels above 50 percent. Reduce humidity levels to between 30-50 percent with a dehumidifier. Use a small dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from closets, cabinets and other small, enclosed spaces. Monitor humidity levels with a hygrometer.
* Use High Efficiency Low Pressure Air (HELPA) air filters on heating and air conditioning systems.
* Replace non-washable stuffed toys with hypo-allergenic toys that can be washed in hot water.

There are 35.0 million people who are allergic to pollen. Avoiding exposure to pollen is central to effective treatment.
* Avoid outdoor activities in the morning. Days that are dry and breezy have higher pollen counts, so exercise indoors to avoid allergens.
* Avoid mowing the lawn.
* Keep car windows up and air conditioning on when you're driving.
* Wear a HEPA filter mask when pollen counts are high to avoid outdoor pollen exposure.
* Close all your windows at home. Use filter screens if windows must be opened, and a window fan with built-in filter.
* Try not to hang laundry outside during pollen season.
* Remove shoes before entering your home. Shower and wash your hair every night before gong to bed. Pollen collects on clothing, hair, and exposed parts of your body.
* Use HELPA air filters on heating and air conditioning systems.

About 10 percent of Americans are allergic to pet dander. When pets groom themselves, allergens such as animal dander (skin flakes) and proteins from their saliva get into the air. Steps can be taken to reduce animal allergen exposures when giving away a pet is not an option.
* Wipe down indoor surfaces frequently to remove animal hair and dander.
* Keep your pets outdoors as much as possible, and at least out of the bedroom.
* Use HEPA air filters to remove microscopic particles of animal dander and hair from room air.
* Vacuum frequently using a HEPA vacuum cleaner.
* Use a dust mask when cleaning.
* Install High Efficiency Low Pressure Air (HELPA) filters on home heating and air condition systems.
* Cover room heating and air conditioning vents with vent filter clothes to filter the air.
* Wash your pet weekly with a dander-reducing shampoo, then follow with an anti-dander spray.
* Wash your hands after touching your pet.

Mould is one of the four most common allergic triggers, especially in humid areas. Avoiding exposure to mould spores is central to effective treatment. High humidity promotes growth of mould spores in places such as damp basements, closets, refrigerator drip pans, air conditioners, garbage pails, and shower stalls.
* Clean the refrigerator drip pan every few months. When mould grows in this pan, the refrigerator fan blows the mould spores into the room.
* Remove visible mould with non-toxic cleaning products.
* Keep the humidity level in your home below 50 percent with an air conditioner or dehumidifier and monitor humidity levels by using a hygrometer.
* Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and the bathroom.
* Check air conditioner vents and under the sink for water leaks. Address water leaks immediately.
* Wear a protective mask while gardening, raking, or mowing.
* Open windows on days when humidity levels are low to air out the house.
* Use a HEPA air purifier to reduce indoor airborne mould spores.
* Install High Efficiency Low Pressure Air (HELPA) filters on home heating and air condition systems to trap mould spores.
Note: Airborne irritants, including tobacco smoke, fuel particles and chemicals, will be discussed in a future article. Many of the same steps apply to reducing airborne irritants, such as using a HEPA air filter, but there are different approaches for detection and avoidance.

The Top Ten Plants to Clean Indoor Air top
Although research on the beneficial effects of plants is relatively limited as yet, the evidence is sufficiently strong to make them an integral part of any safe home, rather than simply decorative items.
It is suggested that one plant should be allowed for approximately 10 square yards of floor space, assuming average ceiling heights of 8 to 9 feet. This means that you need two or three plants to contribute to good air quality in the average domestic living room of about 20 to 25 square yards.
Research has shown that these 10 plants are the most effective all-around in counteracting off gassed chemicals and contributing to balanced internal humidity.
* Areca palm
* Reed palm
* Dwarf date palm
* Boston fern
* Janet Craig dracaena
* English ivy
* Australian sword fern
* Peace Lily
* Rubber plant
* Weeping fig
Although many plants like light, they do not all have to be placed near windows. Many indoor plants originated in the dense shade of tropical forests and have a high rate of photosynthesis. These are ideal for the home and can be placed in darker corners. When positioning plants, try to strike a balance between light and ventilation because the effect of plants on indoor air pollution appears to be reduced if they are set in a draft.

Six Cautions about Pesticides and Herbicides top
When you spray pesticides to kill garden or household pests, or spray your lawn with chemical herbicides, or spray your dog for fleas, you're also exposing your kids (and yourself) to these toxins. Think about it: These concoctions are designed to kill insects and weeds. Even if you use them as directed, they still have the potential to cause a wide range of health problems in people because of their toxicity. Here are six cautions and alarming thoughts:

1. No one guarantees the safety of pesticides. Just because a product is registered doesn't mean it's safe.
2. Pesticides have been traditionally treated as "innocent until proven guilty" by regulatory authorities. A generation ago, pesticides were considered to be relatively safe and effective chemicals that produced significant benefits to society.
3. Many older pesticides have not been thoroughly tested by today's standards. These pesticides are still commonly used even thought complete testing of these older pesticides will take at least another 10 years.
4. Most pesticides in use today have not been tested for their health effects on children. This is a major problem. Recent scientific studies involving laboratory animals show that many pesticides damage the developing brain and nervous system.
5. Certain types of pesticides mimic hormones. Scientists have discovered that some pesticides have the ability to mimic or compete with hormones (the chemicals in our body that trigger development and functioning).
6. Many herbicides are known, probable, or suspected carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals).

Garden Tips top
Tips for the Garden
Eggshells ground finely may be used not only as a fertiliser but also as a slug deterrent.
Bury banana skins and crushed eggshells near the roots of rose trees to supply them with extra vitamins. 1 tablespoon full of Epsom salts dissolved in 1 pint of lukewarm water will provide a good tonic for all plants but especially roses.

Decorating Tips top
Add a good tablespoonful of baking soda to each bucketful of water when stripping wall paper and it will make the job easier. Or use hot water containing vinegar.

Dip a paint roller or large sponge into the solution and wet paper thoroughly. After two applications the paper should peel easily.

To remove the smell of paint from a newly decorated room, cut an onion in half and leave in the room.

Loosen tight screws in wood by dripping a little vinegar on their heads. When the vinegar penetrates the threaded section they will be easier to unscrew.

To remove paint from glass: Rub the paint with hot undiluted vinegar to soften it. Remove the paint and clean the glass in the normal way.

Rinsing brushes: After wallpapering rinse the paste table and brushes in salted water before washing. This removes the paste more quickly and leaves the brushes soft and springy.



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