J500 Media and the Environment

Light green and learning by margaretec
June 24, 2009, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Food + Health, J840 Week 2 | Tags: , , ,

I am awakened by a shrill, high-pitched tone; a sound I’ve never heard before.  Is this real?  Am I awake?  I turn to look at the LED clock; it’s 3:40 a.m.  My head is in a cloud.  I take a moment.  This is not the sound of my security system; nor is it the smoke detector chirping, asking for a new battery. The shrill whistle-like sound has ceased.  What’s going on?  I turn on the light and look around the room.  Scout is looking at me, curious, he’s doesn’t know how to respond until I cue him.

I get up, walk to the security panel and scrutinize the readings. Everything looks normal. Where did the noise come from?  The shrill tone starts screaming at me again.  What the heck?  I follow the sound; it leads me to the $30 carbon monoxide detector just inside my doorway.  The noise is definitely coming from this cheap, old, white piece of plastic.  I notice the green light is off and the amber light is glaring at me.  Aha!

I have no idea what to do, so I pull the detector from the outlet and read it.  I need fresh air.  I quickly turn off the air conditioning, turn on a fan and open the windows.

What caused the fumes?

Looks innocent enough

Looks innocent enough

An internet search the next day revealed the paint products we were using to update my old house are poison. The fumes built up and created a toxic environment for me and my dog.

I am light green and learning.  I carry my reusable bags to the store faithfully, I perform errands on foot, I drive an old Honda and I recycle all the things my provider will accept.  Although my county has a special program for acceptance of hazardous waste and although I’ve used the program, it never occurred to me that I was endangering my life or Scout’s life by updating the charming interior of my 45 year old house with long overdue paint.  Read labels.

P.S. – I am thankful.

Peg Cox


6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You’re right, Peggy, it’s important to read labels. I know that I have bought several cleaning products, only to come home and find out that I’m required to wear a mask while using it! Scary.

About the paint, I have some friends that went through a similar situation. A few months ago, excitedly awaiting for the arrival of their first child, they started prepping the new nursery room. While shopping at a hardware store for the perfect shade of paint, they started reading the labels…and freaked out. Apparently paints contain VOCs, which cause smog but can also affect the quality of the air inside your home. Imagine their shock when they found, upon further investigation, that the VOCs and toxins in the paint could cause a slew of health problems, including headaches and earaches.

Fortunately, companies are starting to sell non-toxic paints that are zero/low-VOC and odor-free. I found a helpful site that is a good starting point if you’re looking for a healthier paint: http://www.eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_paints.htm#2d

~Pauline Horton

Comment by paulineah

Hi Peg,
If the paint you’re using now is toxic, I’m curious about the paint and chemicals that have been used in your home over time…in all of our homes. When I moved into my house, there were 20+ cans of paint, primer and stain in the basement. Many of the cans were rusted over (hello, tetanus shot) and the labels had peeled off. They went straight to the hazmat drop-off. Scary indeed.

-Monica Delaorra

Comment by monicadela

Hey Monica, some years ago when I moved into this place I received the gift of the previous owner’s paint and paint solvent. I did the research and got those items to the proper disposal site. I missed connecting the dots, didn’t get specific with my painter and paid a price this time around. Lesson learned!

Peg C

Comment by margaretec

Pauline, thank you for the information. My painter used one of the name brand paints listed, but I did not specify non-toxic when I discussed the job with him. I had the trifecta going last weekend: oil-based paint, paint solvent and application with a paint sprayer. Yikes!

I’m airing the place out and happened upon these cool ideas to stay cool with the windows open.

Peg C

Comment by margaretec

Good post Peg. Reading labels and fine print, and doing some basic research, is very important if we want to be environmentally conscious (and stay healthy).

I faced a similar situation when I wanted to stain my deck. If you walk along the aisles at any home improvement store, you’ll find cans of oil-based stains. Oil-based stains contain those VOCs too, that are dangerous to walk barefoot on and they create ground-level ozone. I couldn’t find a safer alternative at any of the stores. I found a safer water-based stain that Dulux sells at their own store in Lenexa. These oil-based stains are banned in several states but not in KS.

Victor V

Comment by victorvi

Victor, thanks for the information. I’m learning that it takes research to be a smart consumer. Your tip on deck stain is appreciated as that task is next on my list. I’ll check out the oil-based stain ban as well.

Peg C

Comment by margaretec

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