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Healthy Environment 2020

Tips for Improving the Environment Right Now, for our Future.

There are many arguments for and against the fluoridation of water.  After taking many health classes I agree that it is essential to oral health, and especially to children’s health as they grow and develop strong teeth.  I also understand that there can be too much of a good thing.  A recent article I read discussed the government’s decision to reduce the level of fluoride in our drinking water.  This has not been done for almost 50 years and most agree with the decision.  It comes after many years of improved toothpaste and dental supplements that children receive with fluoride in them.  Too much fluoride can cause fluorosis which is usually slight discoloration on the teeth but can be much worse.  Although this is not a big problem officials believe this change will help to reduce the worries from parents and educators.

What do you think about Fluoridation?  Did you have it when you were growing up?  Do you think it helped or hurt?

I read an article about a study that was done on mice to show the effects driving in traffic has on our minds and bodies.  The results were very interesting.  They concluded that mice who were exposed to similar settings as driving in traffic (pollution, car exhaust, temperature, stress, etc.) had increased damage to the brain.  They showed signs of damage to the memory and learning areas of the brain as well as development.  The mice’s exposure to the conditions was considerably less than the average American driver spends in the same conditions in a given week.  Because of this the study has received broad attention and urges Americans to rethink their weekly commute.

The environment has such a dramatic effect on the health of children.  As children grow the environment is constantly contributing positively or negatively to the normal development of the child’s mind and body.  According to the World Health Organization almost a third of children age five and younger die each year because of environmental related causes.  Most of these problems are due to poverty, malnutrition, and sanitation in developing countries.  However, there are problems we worry about right here in the United States.  Many foods and toys can have harmful substances in/on them.  Pollution in the air and from factories/plants in areas of the country can have effects on the development of children.   I look to the day when I have children and think of all the ways I hope to keep them safe and away from harmful poisons and substances that can negatively affect their physical or mental development.  I know I can’t keep them from everything and they re bound to be exposed to many harmful things but I hope to be able to learn about those ways in which I can protect them and help to develop to their full potential.

The WHO has 10 interesting ways the environment affects children and where these problems are most prevalent.  I highly recommend looking over these facts.

According to this site we use approximately 350 gallons of water per day with the highest percentage coming from toilet use!  I thought this was very interesting and can’t help thinking of this fact each time I go to the restroom…Fortunately for those who drink a lot of water to keep their bodies healthy advances have been made in the toilet business allowing for better conservation of water.

Growing up my dad loved conserving everything; water, electricity, money, etc.  He was so proud when we bought those first efficient toilets.  Unfortunately those first models weren’t prepared for my three older brothers (think plunger).  Luckily they have drastically improved these special toilets.  Most toilets now are designed to conserve water and when people design and build their own homes or remodel they usually have to request if they want the non-water-conserving toilets.   It’s good to see this innovation occurring and even moving to things such as faucets, shower heads, and hoses.

I read an article in Time magazine about a new form of power that is being drilled in Pennsylvania: gas from Shale rock.  I had no idea gas could be sourced from this type of rock.  The article opened my eyes to this new form of energy as well as the rise in drilling in Pennsylvania and the struggle over power resources.  All the new wells used for harboring the power source has affected many families and worried even about the water being polluted with runoff from the drilling practices and the danger to their homes nearby.  Although natural gas is better for the environment, and for workers, than coal it still has its downsides and many environmentalists are calling for strict regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency for these businesses.  Strict rules would eliminate worries from communities around drilling sites of the potential for leaks or blowouts.

The article is long but the information and the implication for our future are so prevalent, I feel it is important for us to be aware of the alternative fuel sources and how long the sources we use now will last.  More important than using natural gas over coal is to continue searching for alternative energy sources that are safe and efficient for the environment.

I love to shop and I love to be kind to the earth.  Although this is a less serious post about helping the environment I think we all like to help in any way we can and if we already have to buy that birthday or wedding gift we might as well be kind and go green!  Many of the products they show are made from some sort of recycled materials.  Recycling things is one of the best ways to be kind to the earth because then we aren’t putting those things into the already overflowing and overwhelming landfills.  There are floor mats made of recycled flip flops, bins and baskets made from recycled magazines and newspaper.  It is also a great place to get ideas to make your own decor out of things you aren’t using anymore.  I once collected CD’s sent in the mail and made a sort of mosaic out of them to decorate my room.  Instead of throwing away recyclable things such as toilet paper and paper towel rolls save them to use for a craft with your favorite niece or nephew.

There are so many ways to reuse old things without throwing everything in the garbage.  As my dad likes to say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”

Real Simple also has a great feature called New Uses for Old things. It gives a bunch of tips on how to use objects for purposes not specified for that object.  Check it out.  And the next time you are thinking of throwing away a perfectly good magazine, thing of all the amazing pictures and words that can be used to make your next homemade birthday card!

The United States Environmental Protection Agency is the best place to go to learn about all things environment.  They have so many tools that I could not decide which tool to use to find out about environmental problems.  The greatest thing I found was the ability to look at environmental issues by state and then by area.  This allowed me to see what the biggest problems are in my community and also gave me resources for how to improve the environmental quality of where I live.  Check it out!

Recently another helpful report came out, the County Health Rankings.  This is a phenomenal project that allows us to compare counties health in the United States.  You can pick any county and compare it to another or just see how your hometown is doing health wise.  These are amazing tools as they allow anyone access to the problems, the facts, where before only researchers and health professionals might have had access to and been aware of these issues.  I spent a good amount of time looking up various counties around the country trying to decipher by region the major health problems.  This is especially important when evaluating environmental health.  If one area is affected more by pollution or other environmental contaminants it can determine whether people will be moving there, the economic outlook, and even the quality of medical care in the area.