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Eco-Fireplace Tips
February 2015

Best Ways to Enjoy Greener Indoor and Outdoor Fires

eco-firewoodOur inclination to position ourselves near fire is a year-round lure nationwide. Yet, the traditional ingredient in both indoor fireplaces in the north and outdoor fire pits in the south should give shivers to the eco-minded. In addition to causing considerable air pollution, wood smoke contains carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and fine particulates that can aggravate asthma, allergies and other health conditions.

Eco-friendly firelogs—many made of recycled biomass products like compressed wood sawdust, ground nutshells and other ingredients—provide low-emission and petroleum-free alternatives to cordwood. According to GreenAmerica.org, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends manufactured logs over wood to cut air pollutants. Major manufacturers noted byApartmentTherapy.com include Java, which uses coffee grounds; Energy Log briquettes made from recycled mill waste; and TerraCycle, ShredMaster Ltd. and CleanFlame, all of which use recycled and repurposed cardboard. In addition to producing greater heat, some of these logs even produce a natural crackling sound without throwing sparks.

 
Legumes, Nuts and Corn Cut Risk of Breast Cancer
January 2015

Foods That Protect

legumesA Harvard Medical School study concluded that eating more peanut butter, corn, nuts and beans, including lentils and soybeans, during adolescence significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer later on.

The researchers followed 9,039 young women that were between 9 and 15 years old when the study started in 1996, having the subjects complete diet questionnaires every year through 2001, and also in 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2010. When the women were ages 18 to 30, the number of benign breast diseases that had developed was recorded. The statistics associated a daily serving of nuts and legumes at age 14 with a 66 percent reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer. Just a single serving of peanut butter once every three days at the age of 11 was associated with a 44 percent reduction of breast cancer risk. Intake of at least one serving of corn every three days was correlated with a 39 percent reduction in the disease.

Earlier studies by Harvard researchers found that eating pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, soybeans, tofu and other vegetable fats also reduces breast cancer risk.

 
Safer Groceries
January 2015

Landmark Food Law Being Enforced

groceriesThe Center for Food Safety (CFS) has reached a settlement agreement (Tinyurl.com/FoodSettlementAgreement) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that sets firm deadlines for the agency to fully enact the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act. A federal court will maintain supervision to ensure FDA compliance.

CFS senior attorney George Kimbrell, who led the case, says, “The first major update to our food safety laws since 1938 must now be implemented in a closed-ended, timely fashion. That means safer food for American families.”

Congress passed the law to combat the epidemic of food-borne illnesses affecting one in six Americans annually. After repeated delays, the FDA must now comply with the following court-overseen schedule to implement the final rules: preventative controls for human and animal food (8/30/2015); imported food and foreign suppliers (10/31/2015); produce safety (10/31/2015); food transportation (3/31/2016); and intentional adulteration of food (5/31/2016).


Source: CenterForFoodSafety.org

 
Corn Guzzler
January 2015

Downsides of Ethanol

Ethanol-PlantEthanol, which makes up 10 percent of the gasoline available at filling stations, together with other biofuels made from crops, appeared to be a way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. However, recent research shows that the federal government’s push to up production of corn-derived ethanol as a gasoline additive since the U.S. Renewable Fuels Standard was enacted in 2007 has instead expanded our national carbon footprint and contributed to a range of other problems.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group warns that continued production of corn ethanol is both worse for the climate than gasoline and bad for farmers, the land and consumers. “It’s driving up food prices, straining agricultural markets, increasing competition for arable land and promoting conversion of uncultivated land to grow crops,” according to this watchdog organization.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reportedly weighing a proposal to cut the amount of ethanol currently required by law to be blended into gasoline by 1.39 billion gallons, equivalent to taking 580,000 cars off the roads for a year. Researchers have been trying to develop greener forms of ethanol, but none are ready for market yet.


For more information, visit epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels.

 
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