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Environmental Issues And Your Health: Why Where You Live Matters

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In the event of major environmental disasters like the Deep Water Horizon oil spill or the similar BP Great Australian Bight spill, we hear a lot about the impact of such pollutants on the ecosystem. This is important information, demonstrating how man made disasters can devastate entire economies – consider the state of fishing in the US Gulf after Deep Water Horizon. But what we don’t always hear about are the effects of such disasters on human health and wellbeing.

In fact, it’s not just major environmental disasters that can cause ill health, but also pervasive pollutants such as car exhaust or factory byproducts that can impact your health and risks of future disease. This is why asking about your home and work environments should always be a part of your medical history. Doctors can more accurately predict health outcomes when they know what your daily life is like.

The Long Term Health Impacts Of Oil Spills

It’s now been over five years since the Deep Water Horizon spill and doctors are only just beginning to recognize some of the health-damaging outcomes associated with this event. One unexpected problem stems from the use of an oil dispersant called Corexit used to clean up the spill.

Follow-up on communities touched by the oil spill has revealed that although Corexit was used to reduce the likelihood of oil related health problems, the treatment also proved toxic. The impact on human health is so severe that it has even been dubbed BP Syndrome.

Those affected by this syndrome – including fishermen, their children, and even grandchildren – have symptoms including neurological problems, weight loss, severe allergies, heart, kidney, and liver problems, and even seizures and paralysis. Where these people live and where they work is integral to understanding their health risks.

Everyday Environmental Hazards

Of course, most of us don’t live and work in the midst of post-oil spill conditions, but that doesn’t mean our daily lives are risk free. Rather, most of us spend time in at least mildly toxic environments. Consider your local air and water quality, for example. Everything from lead in the water to dust and mold can cause health problems.

Young children are especially vulnerable to lead, which can cause reduced IQ and other neurological and behavioral issues. The recent contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan is another example of how especially marginalized populations are most likely to be exposed to environmental toxins.

Preventing Environmental Illness

What can we do to prevent worsening of these types of health problems? Typically known as environmental illnesses, such conditions can be reduced by increasing our commitment to reduced vehicle and factory emissions. It’s also important that all homes be inspected for lead paint, as children may accidentally ingest it and develop lead poisoning.

It’s also important that we continue to push for alternative energy sources, especially in light of all the oil spills experienced in the last few years. Clean energy sources like wind turbines and solar power are far preferable as they pose no environmental risk, yet most countries are still hesitant to embrace these energy sources fully.

Proper air filtration and appliance upkeep can also help to reduce the likelihood of environmental illness on an individual level. Always make sure wood burning stoves are properly ventilated and that older buildings have been renovated to remove any traces of asbestos. While both of these issues may seem largely invisible, they can cause difficulty breathing and even lung cancer. Asbestos in particular can cause a subtype of cancer known as mesothelioma.

So many of the substances we encounter and rely on each day contain carcinogenic substances and yet the government continues to license and rely on these products. Some of these products are unavoidable, but with increased awareness you can opt out of using luxury items that might pose a risk to your health. Even small steps can help reduce your risk of health problems down the line.

Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Rawpixel.com -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/rawpixel

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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