Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Micro Hand Pad - Marks on Walls

I just recently started using the Micro Hand Pads around my house.  I've got a lot of marks on the walls to try them on.
A basket for shoes sits on the floor in this corner.  You can see all the marks left on the walls from shoes being tossed at the wall.
Here is that same corner after using the Micro Hand Pad on the walls.  Just get the Micro Hand Pad damp with water.  For small jobs, I get a corner of it wet.  For this bigger job, I got about a quarter of it wet.

I also can't tell where I scrubbed with the Micro Hand Pad.  The sheen of the paint looks the same in the scrubbed spots as it does on the rest of the wall.
Here are some marks on the wall behind a lamp in my office.
Here is that same spot after using the Micro Hand Pad.
So how does the Micro Hand Pad (on the left) compare the the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (on the right)?  I've used the Magic Eraser many times to remove marks from the wall.  I would say the Micro Hand Pad works as well as the Magic Eraser.  Both break down when used to scrub.  I tried rubbing both on a red wall with the same pressure and same number of times.  The Magic Eraser on the right took off more paint than the Micro Hand Pad.  The Magic Eraser also left a white, powdery residue on the wall that I didn't see with the Micro Hand Pad.

From the product manual
*The Micro Hand Pad does not contain cleaning chemicals.
* DO NOT USE on auto paint, polished/glossy surfaces, or brushed, satin dark or faux finishes
* USE CAUTION on painted/wood surfaces, as the Pad is abrasive
*Environmentally friendly

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Drain Care: Kitchen Drain

I like to include pictures with my posts but I'll spare you this time.  Since we moved to this house over 3 years ago, we've had to have someone with a big machine unclog the kitchen drain every 9-12 months.  It gets plugged so bad that no amount of Drano can get through the gunk.  

In September, I started using the Norwex Drain Care every 6 - 8 weeks to try and keep the drain from plugging up.  It's hard to know if it's working but I did make the following observation over the last month.

In the basement we have a slop sink that uses the same drain as the kitchen sink.  Every once in a while, I fill both kitchen sinks with water then drain them at the same time to try and push as much gunk from the drain as possible.  This surge of water causes some of the gunk to back up into the slop sink in the basement.  This gunk looks and smells like vomit.  It is disgusting. 

Last week, before going to bed, I poured a spoonful of Norwex Drain Care down the drain of the slop sink and let it sit all night.  The next morning, I filled both kitchen sinks with water and drained them at the same time.  All that came up in the slop sink this time were a few clean egg shells (we eat a lot of eggs and I throw the shells in the garbage disposal).  There was no nasty odor, there was no "vomit," and there were a lot less egg shells than normal leading me to believe that the Drain Care is working really well.

Drain Care contains enzymes which are great for breaking down organic materials such as food waste but not so good at breaking down hair clogs.  Also, I have heard that it's better for preventative maintenance than for drains that are already clogged.  I haven't had a chance to try it on an already clogged drain.

From the product manual: Dissolves clogs and eliminates sluggish drains and odors. Does not contain any poisons, acids, solvents or caustics and does not create heat or fumes. Safe for use on all plastic and metal pipes, kitchen and bathroom drains, garbage disposals, septic systems and RV’s.

Also, I have been marking my container every time I use it.  So far I've used it four times and my container is still very full.  I'm not sure how many uses I will get out of it, but I'm sure I'll get at least 25-30, which will take even me a long time to use up.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Article: We’re in contact with uncontrolled chemicals

We’re in contact with uncontrolled chemicals

January 14, 2013|By Sandy Bauers, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Ken Cook spoke passionately about 10 Americans who were found to have more than 200 synthetic chemicals in their blood.

The list included flame retardants, lead, stain removers, and pesticides the federal government had banned three decades ago.

"Their chemical exposures did not come from the air they breathed, the water they drank, or the food they ate," said Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, a national advocacy group.
How did he know?

The 10 Americans were newborns. "Babies are coming into this world pre-polluted with toxic chemicals," he said.

More than 80,000 chemicals are in use today, and most have not been independently tested for safety, regulatory officials say.

Yet we come in contact with many every day - most notably, the bisphenol A in can linings and hard plastics, the flame retardants in couches, the nonstick coatings on cookware, the phthalates in personal care products, and the nonylphenols in detergents, shampoos, and paints.

These five groups of chemicals were selected by Sonya Lunder, senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, as ones that people should be aware of and try to avoid.

They were among the first picked in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recent effort to assess health risks for 83 of the most worrisome industrial chemicals.

Lunder's basis was that they are chemicals Americans come in contact with daily. You don't have to live near a leaking Superfund site to be exposed. They are in many consumer products, albeit often unlabeled.

Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have shown that they are detectable in the blood or urine of many of us.

Plus, much data exist showing their harm. "We have an incredible body of evidence for all these chemicals," she said. "In all cases, we have studies linking human exposure to human health effects."

Lunder and others see these five as symbolic of the government's failure to protect us from potential - or actual - toxins.

"A lot of people presume that because you're buying something on the store shelf . . . someone has vetted that product to make sure it is safe," said Sarah Janssen, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, another advocacy group. "Unfortunately, that's not true."

Some chemicals are regulated through laws governing, say, pesticides or air quality.  But most are regulated through the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. It has been identified as the only major environmental statute that has not been reauthorized, or revised, since its adoption in the 1970s.

Since 2005, U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D., N.J.) has worked to change that. In 2010, he introduced the first version of the Safe Chemicals Act, which would require companies "to prove their products are safe before they end up in our home and our children's bodies," he said recently by e-mail.

A later version, with 27 cosponsors, passed out of committee in July. He has vowed to keep fighting for a vote in the full Senate.

The American Chemical Council, a trade association representing large chemical manufacturers, declined comment, although it too has called for reform.

"Public confidence in TSCA has diminished, contributing to misperceptions about the safety of chemicals," council president Cal Dooley said in 2011 testimony. But he said the proposed law would cripple innovation in fields from energy to medicine. It would "create an enormous burden on EPA and on manufacturers with little benefit by requiring a minimum data set for all chemicals."

EPA officials declined comment, but in a series of appearances before the Senate subcommittee on the environment, staffers repeatedly said the current law is not protecting Americans.

In July, Jim Jones, acting administrator of EPA's office of chemical safety, said that "with each passing year, the need for TSCA reform grows," noting that it had "fallen behind the rapidly advancing industry it is intended to regulate."

When TSCA was passed, it grandfathered in, "without any evaluation," the 62,000 chemicals in commerce that existed before 1976, Jones said.

He noted that in the 34 years since TSCA was passed, the list of chemicals has grown to 84,000, and EPA has been able to require testing on only about 200 of them.

Also, the agency has regulated or banned only five.

An oft-mentioned case of regulatory failure is that of cancer-causing asbestos. In 1989, "after years of study and nearly unanimous scientific opinion," Jones said, the EPA banned it.

Two years later, a federal court overturned most of the action because the EPA had not chosen the least burdensome control on industry, as required.

The court ruled that old asbestos uses could not be revived. New uses were prohibited. But current uses could remain.

Adam Finkel, executive director of the University of Pennsylvania Program on Regulation, said that Europe leads the U.S. in chemical testing and regulation. There, officials put the onus on the makers to prove a chemical is safe.

Meanwhile, the science keeps outpacing the rules.

"The real issue of TSCA reform is that science is not what it was 30 or 40 years ago," said Linda Birnbaum, head of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

In the past, she said, "we were looking almost exclusively at visible birth defects. We were concerned with cancer."

Researchers are now looking at chemicals' effects - some extremely subtle - on numerous other conditions, including reproductive development and disorders, diabetes, heart problems, asthma, autism . . . even obesity and learning disorders.

Paradigms have evolved so that researchers can study concurrent exposure to more than one chemical, as happens in real life. Toxicology has grown from a descriptive science of what has occurred to a predictive one.

Of the five chemicals identified by Lunder, flame retardants have figured prominently in recent research studies.

In late November, researchers led by Duke University chemist Heather Stapleton showed that a flame retardant removed from children's sleepwear as a suspected carcinogen was still in lots of couches.

More than 40 percent of the 102 couches bought between 1985 and 2010 had the chemical, called tris, according to the study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

That issue also published a study by the Silent Spring Institute, an advocacy group in Massachusetts, that traced the path of toxic flame retardants from couches to household dust to the bodies of children, who often crawl on floors and put fingers in their mouths.

Officials say children's small size and rapid growth may make them more vulnerable to toxins.
The research showed that most homes had levels of at least one flame retardant that exceeded a federal health guideline.

One of the latest health studies of PBDE flame retardants, in November's Environmental Health Perspectives, found that fetal or infant exposure could adversely affect a child's fine-motor coordination, attention span, and IQ.

A Chicago Tribune investigation, published in May, found that many flame retardants do not even provide meaningful protection from fire.

Bisphenol A, another chemical facing scrutiny, held promise because it could be used to make hard, clear plastic and protective liners for canned foods and beverages.

Noting thousands of studies examining its effects, the National Resources Defense Council petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to limit its use as a food additive, which would also preclude its use in packaging.

The FDA denied the petition last year, although many manufacturers have removed it from baby bottles and sippy cups. Some, including Campbell's Soup of Camden, say they plan to shift to alternatives.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Spirinetts - Oven Racks

As part of cleaning my oven, I needed to clean the racks inside.

 I used a spirinett to wipe the grime off.  It took very little scrubbing to get that spot clean.  A couple of swipes back and forth, and the grime was gone!  I just got the spot wet with water before scrubbing.

A woman called me the other day to order more spirinetts to give as late Christmas gifts to her friends.  She loves to use them on her pots and pans.  Something I will have to try as well.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Oven & Grill Cleaner: Dirty Oven

Alright, time to get back to work!

For some reason, I felt compelled to clean my oven before all of the Christmas baking and cooking started.  Maybe it was because we were having people visit, I don't know.  Now, I haven't cleaned my oven in a really long time.  And I'm lazy.  And I find it difficult to really scrub the back of my oven because I'm short and that's a long reach.  So, I would have preferred to run the self clean cycle and then keep up with oven cleaning by using the Oven & Grill Cleaner.  However, I won't run this cycle unless the windows can be open and the kids can be outside.  The book doesn't say just how hot the oven gets when the self clean cycle is run, but it's really hot.  And a lot of harmful fumes are created as it turns the gunk into powder. 
Here is the oven door before cleaning.  The right side is cleaner because I had cleaned that half with the Oven & Grill Cleaner for a demo several months ago.
The bottom looked worse in person than it does in this picture.
I warmed the oven to about 100 degrees F and turned it off.  Then I sprayed it with the Oven & Grill Cleaner and let it sit.  After 5 minutes, I sprayed it with water and started scrubbing with a Mighty Mesh Pot Scrubber & wiping with an Enviro Cloth.  Notice the drips running down?  That is gunk that the Oven & Grill Cleaner disolved.  After spraying it with water, it started running down the side.  Super easy to wipe up and removed from the oven!
It took 3 rounds to get the oven clean but there were no toxic fumes involved and I really only spent maybe 10-15 minutes total scrubbing and wiping (3-5 minutes/round).  Without the Oven & Grill Cleaner, I would not have cleaned my oven in December in Iowa.
From the product manual: Water-based and non-caustic
cleaner. Bio-based, all-natural and
You can still see some gunk, especially around the light.  I could have kept working at it and gotten it spotless but I was ready to start making cookies instead.  In the spring, I would like to run the self clean feature to get rid of all the gunk and have a clean baseline.  After that, keeping my oven spotless will be easy with Oven & Grill Cleaner!