Tip of the week

Limit the use of fragrance in the home.
When airing out your home, do it the natural way! Avoid using commercial deodorizers,
including the plug-in type. These may contain phthalates – a chemical that interferes
with the production of our body’s hormones. Exposure to phthalates has been
associated with reproductive problems and birth defects. To reduce your risk of exposure, keep the air fresh by cleaning up spil s promptly and airing out the room.
Lock your medicine cabinet.
To keep your children from accidental exposures, make sure you lock up both
prescription and over-the-counter medications. Putting something “up high” isn’t good
To guide you, below are some common ingredients found in products you may have around your home. When ingested in smal doses (1 to 2 tablets, capsules, or teaspoonfuls), the ingredients below can be highly toxic to children. Ingredient
Teething gels; vaginal creams, hemorrhoidal creams, first-aid creams Desipramine/Tricyclics Antidepressants; antibedwetting drugs Diphenoxylate Cleaning fluids; gasoline; kerosene; naphtha Glass cleaners; paint strippers; windshield deicers Over-the-counter liniments, lotions, and food flavorings
Give away your toxic houseplants.
Did you know that some of the most beautiful houseplants are actual y quite toxic?
To make your house safer, find new homes for the following toxic houseplants:
Common Name
Botanical Name

Lighten up on the curtains.
Curtains can collect an amazing amount of dust, which can promote respiratory
problems in children. When dirt is tracked into your house on muddy shoes, it becomes
airborne and finds its way onto the curtains. Dust from furniture and pol en from grass
and trees can also end up on your curtains. To combat dust, choose machine washable curtains and wash them at least four times a year. Heavy drapes or curtains made of dry-clean-only fabric are usual y the worst dust col ectors because they’re expensive to have professional y laundered. It can be tempting to leave them up from months – or even years – between cleanings, which promotes dust build up.
This spring, try growing some food!
Planting and tending a garden is a fun thing for kids to do, as well as a way to provide
your family with fresh produce. However, it is important that you do it safely. For
• Find out the history of the land where you plan to plant. Check with your local government or health department to make sure the land does not have a questionable environmental history. For example, if the land was previously used for an industrial facility, gold course, or a non-organic orchard, your soil may contain toxic chemicals. • Do not place your garden too close to the edge of your property. If your house is located in an older neighborhood, there may be chemicals dumped on these outer edges. Also, any chemical your neighbor uses could creep into your garden. • Avoid placing your garden next to a highway or busy street. This prevents runoff from contaminating your garden. • Garden organical y. Do not use synthetic herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers. • Avoid using pressure-treated lumber. This could contain arsenic, chromated copper arsenate, or other toxic chemicals that could leach out of the wood and into your soil.
Do small things to reduce chemicals in your home.
It is hard to remove every chemical product from your home. However, you can start by making small changes: Step 1: List al the chemical products in your home and cross off al but five that you consider most useful. For one week, use only the products you’ve listed as most important. Keep a record of the products you wished you had added to Step 2: Add up to two more products that you wish you had on your list during that first week. Move the ones you haven’t missed into an inaccessible area. Step 3: Donate al unnecessary products during the next chemical clean up day in Step 4: Now that you’ve weaned yourself from unnecessary chemical products, look at the ingredients in the seven products you’ve chose to keep. Try to replace
Buy nail polish labeled “three free.”
If you use nail polish, look for brands with the words “three free” on the label. This indicates that the product is a safer alternative and does not contain the potential y harmful chemicals: • Dibutyl phthalate: A plasticizer used to prevent chips and cracks. • Formaldehyde: Used in nail hardeners to preserve the polish. • Toluene (methylbenzene, toluol, phenylmethane): A solvent used to make the Until we learn more about these chemicals, it is prudent to avoid them in cosmetics and personal care products. To evaluate the safety of other cosmetics and personal care products, visit
Prevent pests from entering your home.
Scientific research shows that pesticides are harmful to children, especial y to their nervous systems. To limit use of these chemicals, take every precaution to keep pests out of the house: • Avoid indoor pests by storing food in sealed glass containers. • Sweep up crumbs from your kitchen. • Do not keep standing water in the house and do not overwater your plants. • Fix leaky pipes. • Make sure food scraps are stored in a trash bin with a tight fitting lid. • Remember to take out your trash regularly. • Fix any crevices you see around your cabinets. Learn more about safely removing pest in
Refrain from canned foods.
Did you know that bisphenol-A (BPA) – a chemical that mimics estrogen – is found in the linings of aluminum cans? Scientists are concerned about BPA because it is linked to a wide variety of health problems, including infertility, behavior problems, obesity, diabetes, and effects on the reproductive system. For this reason, avoid canned foods and beverages, including soda and soup. Prepare foods from scratch or buy frozen foods. If possible, buy foods in Tetra Pak, a safer alternative.
Start your spring cleaning the green way.
As we get ready for spring, stock your house with the safest cleaning products. Avoid potential y dangerous ingredients like glycol ether, Stoddard solvent, naphtha, and kerone – they are al neurotoxins and can cause headaches or confusion with overexposure. Remember, you can use plain soap and water for most cleaning products. If you need to disinfect an area, use a dilute solution of chlorine bleach in water, mixing ¼ cup household bleach with one gal on of water.
Inspect your dinnerware.

If your dinnerware was not made in the US, there is a chance you could be exposing
your family to harmful chemicals.
To prevent this, check key items like highly glazed china and coffee cups and chipped
pots and pans to see if they were made in the United States. If they were not, there is a
chance they could be covered with lead paint. The brighter the color, the higher your level of suspicion should be. If you are unsure about an item, it may be best to replace it. (Pots and pans made today in the US should be lead-free.) To learn more about lead, check out the EPA handbook
Avoid commercial deodorizers.

Commercial deodorizers can contain some harmful chemicals – including
methoxychlor, petroleum distil ates, formaldehyde, p-dichlorobenzene, and
naphthalene. Al of these chemicals are toxic, so avoid unnecessary exposure.
To keep air fresh, clean up spil s or messes promptly and be sure to air out the room natural y. Avoid using commercial deodorizers, especial y the plug-in type.
Stay away from food additives.

Stabilizers, preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial colors, and flavorings are common food
additives found in our kitchens. Err on the side of caution and eliminate as many food
additives as possible. Although food additives are rigorously tested by the government,
it may take years to discover their long term health effects. Keep children away from food additives like:
Keep a non-toxic bathroom.

Did you know that toilet cleaners are among the most toxic cleaning materials? They
may contain sodium acid oxalate, o-dichlorobenzene, fungicides, and chlorinated
phenols – al of which are highly toxic.
Instead, clean your toilets with these alternatives: Use a borax solution to clean the inside of a toilet bowl. Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water to clean the toilet rim.
Reduce exposure to methylmercury.

Methylmercury – the harmful form of this element – is produced when coal and fossil
fuels are burned, releasing toxins into lakes, rivers, and oceans. For this reason,
consuming fish is the main source of methylmercury exposure. While fish is an important part of a healthy diet and should be served to children, limit consumption to no more than 6-12 ounces per week. Choose “chunk light” tuna, which is lower in mercury, as compared to albacore “white” tuna.
Check well water for manganese.

Manganese is a natural y occurring metal found in food, air, water, and soil. While tap
and bottled water contain safe levels of manganese, well water can sometimes be
contaminated. If you are concerned about chemicals in your drinking water, contact the EPA’s Safe Water Drinking Hotline at 1-800-426-4791. For more information, check out the EPA’s
Rethink your Valentine’s Day cards.

Did you know that over 180 mil ion cards are exchanged on Valentine’s Day? This year,
teach your children to make their own Valentine’s Day cards using old magazines and
papers. This helps saves the amount of water used to run paper mil s and limits toxic emissions that may be released by the mil s.
Wash hands after handling cash receipts.

Did you know that cash receipt paper contains the chemical bisphenol A (BPA)? BPA is
used in cash receipt paper to bind the print to the paper; traces can rub off the paper
and be absorbed into the skin, exposing shoppers to higher levels of this chemical. To avoid unnecessary exposure, wash hands after touching the paper – especial y if you will be preparing or eating food. If possible, say no to receipts. Be sure you do not give your children receipts to play with.
Limit motor vehicle idling.

As the weather gets colder, it is common to leave the car idling for longer periods of
time. However, excessive idling can expose children to harmful levels of exhaust fumes,
which can lead to nasal, throat, and respiratory problems. These airborne participles can also trigger asthma attacks. This winter, do not let you car idle for more than 30 seconds. To heat up your car, simply drive it and run the heat. Do not run the engine for long periods of time while the car is stopped. To learn more about motor vehicle idling and other ways to reduce exposures, visit the
Recycle your trees after the holidays.
According to the Environmental Health Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 33
mil ion trees are sold each year. Just because your tree is picked up curbside, this does not guarantee that it is recycled! To reduce waste this holiday season, recycle your tree. To find local recycling options, visit – which al ows you to locate recycling services by entering your zip Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced whenever fuels are burned. If fuel-burning appliances are used properly, there is little risk of carbon monoxide exposure. However, if these appliances are not well-maintained, health problems can occur. To reduce your family’s risk of exposure, have a trained professional inspect al fuel burning appliances, including furnaces, water heaters, gas stoves, ovens, and wood-burning stoves. Use a vented space heater, instead of an unvented one. Instal an exhaust fan (vented in the direction of outdoors) over your gas stove. Do not burn charcoal fire indoors. Final y, the EPA recommends never using a generator inside homes, garages, and sheds; dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can build up in these areas, even after generators have been turned off. Clicto watch Dr. Landrigan discuss carbon monoxide in schools on NBC’s The

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