Eco Dangers

Recycling and reusing do the environment a favor. But can you be putting yourself at risk even as you save the planet? Be diligent as you go green.

  • Light’s dark secret: While energy–efficient, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) contain toxic mercury. If one breaks, open the windows, shut off the central air, and leave for at least 15 minutes. Scoop up loose particles and powder with a sturdy material like cardboard and empty into a sealable glass jar. Use duct tape to remove smaller fragments, then wipe clean. Throw away any garments that come into contact with the debris. Dispose of CFLs at your local hazardous waste center.
  • Dirty totes: While they help conserve, reusable bags transport more than groceries. A recent study found that many sacks stash microbial stowaways that can make you sick. Wash your packs weekly or after any kind of spill. Designate different carriers for specific items like diapers, food, and gym clothes to avoid cross–contamination, and store them in clean, dry locations.
  • Reactive soil: While tossing leftovers into a bin seems easy enough, there are some rules to composting. Keep your pile offset from other structures, especially hot sources — a well composted heap generates heat and could combust. Avoid pet waste, meats, and dairy products, which attract pests and harbor pathogens. And stay away from poisonous or diseased plants and weeds.

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