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Is living in the US more dangerous than living in the UK?

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On a recent episode of his Sky Atlantic show Last Week Tonight, the British comedian John Oliver highlighted the dangers posed by lead – a substance which continues to be used in plumbing and paint throughout the US, despite being banned elsewhere. Oliver joked that lead “is almost as much of a scourge in young children’s homes as Frozen merchandise,” before enlisting some of Sesame Street’s most beloved puppets to sing about the problem.

As ever, though, Oliver’s humour highlighted some more serious concerns; domestic exposure to lead could put children in an estimated estimated 2.1 million homes across the US at risk. The damage done by lead poisoning, as outlined in this recent Huffington Post exposé, can cause learning difficulties and behavioural problems in those exposed to it. The contaminated water in Flint, Michigan has also brought the issue back to people’s minds, with criminal charges brought against three government employees in mid-April.

This raises the question – what other substances can be commonly found in the US which are deemed too dangerous by other nations? John Oliver has made the transatlantic trip, and come out unscathed, but for the average citizen, is it more dangerous to live in America than the UK?

Asbestos

The first ban on the use of asbestos was only introduced in the UK in 1985, despite the fact its risks of cancer were known long before that. This may be because the signs of the two diseases caused by asbestos – mesothelioma and asbestosis – take such a long time (between twenty and fifty years) to become evident in sufferers.

The asbestos removal industry has boomed as a result. With a reported 75% of schools containing asbestos and virtually every other building built before 1975, companies like OCS Environmental Solutions and Shield Asbestos have their hands full, carrying out some of the country and Europe’s largest asbestos removal projects and preventing listed buildings from become a health hazard. Americans appear to have been slower to catch on.

Recently, American comedian Quincy Jones announced that he has twelve months to live, following a shock diagnosis of mesothelioma. A Kickstarter campaign (and additional funding from TV network HBO) has successfully allowed the 32-year-old comic to achieve his “dying wish” of a one-hour televised stand-up special. In his recent appearance on the You Made It Weird podcast, Jones also told host Pete Holmes that he and his lawyers are currently “investigating addresses, schools, everywhere [he] pretty much grew up” in order to determine where he may have been exposed to asbestos in the past.

In the United States, even a successful lawsuit against Congress from the Environmental Protection Agency could not put outright ban on the use of asbestos into place. Six categories of products which contain asbestos, including any newly developed uses for the substance, remain legal, and therefore continue to pose a risk to future generations of Americans.

Arsenic

This one should really be a no-brainer – another carcinogenic substance, which has also been linked to developmental issues and heart disease (amongst many other health risks). However, in America, arsenic was used in Roxarsone, an additive to brands of chicken feed given to 70% of the country’s chickens, in order to fatten chickens, and give their meat a more visually appealing colour.

The use of arsenic in feed was only outlawed in 2015, and was swiftly followed this year by new regulation about its inorganic use in the manufacture of rice. These laws were put into place almost simultaneously, on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly around rice products (such as rice milk) which are marketed for children.

Bromide

One of the most popular fruits available, strawberries are a major priority for many farmers, with over 1.5 million tonnes farmed in the US in 2014. They’re also extremely susceptible to natural risk factors. For years, bromide has been favoured as the fumigant of choice for eliminating all possible pests, diseases and weeds. Unfortunately, such fumigants have also been linked to serious health issues and global warming, as they can turn into volatile gases that have the potential to spread, affecting those in the nearby areas.

Effective alternatives to methyl bromide exist, but finding the replacement has proved challenging for the agricultural industry. The process is being aided by satellite farming (also known as precision agriculture), which uses aerial imagery to create precise land maps for assessing soil content and the risk of pollution.

And yet, while the use of methyl bromide has been banned in the EU since 2010, it continues to be used in the US. According to current legislation, the growth of strawberries falls under a “critical use exemption,” allowing the chemical to continue to be manufactured and sold to farmers. It is due to be phased out of use in 2017, though such promises have been made in previous years and not followed through.

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Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism

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When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.

After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.

How was it started?

It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.

How to go about it?

So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.

If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.

What can be learned?

Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .

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