United States             20K-1004
Environmental Protection       April 1990
Communications and Public Affairs	

A  Family Guide

To Pollution

U.S. Environmet
Region 5, Library (PL-1'
77 West Jackson Boulevard, 12th Floor
Chicago,  IL .60604-3590
                    Printed on Recycled Paper

Dear Fellow Citizen:
  Two decades ago, the environmental
concerns and efforts of thousands of
individuals brought about a historic
occurrence—the first Earth Day. This event was
instrumental in heightening the environmental
consciousness of our country and led to the
creation of numerous private and public
organizations, including the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.
  Since 1970, numerous federal and state
programs and regulations have helped us
make progress on many of our environmental  -
problems. The problems EPA is grappling
with today—toxic chemicals, acid rain, run-off
from agricultural and other lands—are often
more subtle and complex  than  the belching
smokestacks and burning rivers that did so
much to prompt the first Earth Day. We at
EPA are committed to solving these problems
and to finding better ways to prevent
pollution from occurring in the first place.
  Nevertheless, government alone can only do
so much. It is fitting that the twentieth
anniversary of Earth Day  found Americans
with a renewed understanding of the
importance of individual responsibility for
protecting the environment. Throughout the
nation, people have been applying an ethic of
conservation and stewardship—in their homes
and at work, as producers and as consumers,
within their family and within  their
  In the years ahead,  our Nation will face
many troublesome environmental issues,
domestic and international,  and we will have
to keep fine-tuning our approaches and
re-adjusting our priorities to cope with them.
But the basic principles of environmental
stewardship do not and will not change. The
time to act on them is now.
  I hope that the information,  suggestions,
and resources given in this pamphlet will
assist you and your family and friends to
"think globally and act locally."
  You can make a difference.
                     Sincerely Yours,
                     William K. Reilly

Recycle paper, glass, plastic, aluminum, scrap
metal,  motor oil, and yard wastes.
  Reuse, repair, and recycle as often as
possible. Don't throw away what can be used
  Avoid filling landfills with disposables.
Whenever feasible, use reusable bags, mugs,
glasses, dishes, towels, and sponges.
  Save your leaves, grass, and bush clippings
and use them as compost.
  Participate in a recycling program.
Encourage your community and your school
to begin recycling.
  Maintain and repair products. Donate
usable  materials to charities  or thrift shops.

  Buy energy-efficient automobiles and other
vehicles and keep them tuned. Carpool, bike,
walk, or use mass transit when possible.
  A well-tuned internal combustion engine
makes your car, boat, or tractor safer for you
and the environment.
  Carpooling and using mass transit, biking,
and walking result in less  pollution.
  Disposal of auto waste is another significant
problem. Used oil can contaminate water
supplies; used auto batteries contain lead, lead
sulfate, and sulfuric acid that can leak into
soil. Take used oil,  auto batteries, and auto
tires to a recycling center or an appropriate
disposal facility.
Information Source	
Local  Chambers of Commerce and local
transit-oriented nonprofit organizations
Your local chapter of the American Lung

  Use less energy. Set back your thermostat,
insulate your water heater, and buy
energy-efficient appliances.
  Setting back the thermostat not only saves
money, it saves energy. It's an investment in
yourself and your environment.
  Insulation conserves our valuable fuel
supply and saves you dollars. Consider
insulating your home and school with
fiberglass  or cellulose fiber.
Information Source	
Your local gas, electric, or heating oil supplier.
  Buy recycled and recyclable products. Seek
out reusable or returnable packages.
  Look for the recycling symbol on products
you buy. Such symbols identify recycled or
recyclable products.
  Buy durable products—don't buy
throw-aways. Borrow or rent things you use
  Avoid buying products that use unnecessary
packaging—either plastic or paper. Use
returnable or reusable containers. Look for
pump dispensers rather than aerosol sprays.
Buy rechargeable batteries for flashlights, toys,
and household items.
  Carry your own reusable shopping bag.

  Reduce smoke, radon, asbestos, and other
indoor-air pollutants.
  Americans spend more than 85 percent of
their time indoors,  so this is one of the most
important areas where you can reduce
environmental hazards.
  One of the most  harmful indoor hazards is
radon, a naturally occurring, colorless, and
odorless gas that seeps into homes through
cracks in foundations or floors. It is the
second most common cause of lung
cancer—leading to  20,000 deaths a year. Many
stores sell test kits  for measuring radon levels.
A reading above 4  picocuries per liter might
indicate a problem.
  Another indoor air pollutant, tobacco
smoke, causes problems for both smokers and
non-smokers. When combined with radon, it
further increases one's chances of developing
lung cancer.
  Formaldehyde-based resins in some new
furniture, building  materials, and fabrics are
other common indoor pollutants, as are
pesticides, aerosols, household cleaners, and
solvents from drycleaning.
  Asbestos is best handled by professionals.
Asbestos removal is not a do-it-yourself project.
If in doubt about asbestos in your home or
work place, check with a professional.

  Purchase products containing toxic
ingredients only when you cannot avoid using
them, and buy only as much as you need.
  Always read product labels to identify any
hazardous constituents, and pay attention to
container and product disposal information.
Whenever possible, avoid using products
labeled with the words "DANGER,"
"WARNING," or "CAUTION." Use non-toxic
alternatives. For example, clean your counter
tops with baking soda instead of chlorinated
  Store hazardous products carefully. Where
possible, recycle leftover hazardous products
such as oil-based paint.
  Find out your local community's policy on
disposing of hazardous waste. If the product
should not go down the drain or into the
rubbish, save it for a household hazardous
waste-collection program. If a program is not
in place, encourage your community to
institute one.

  Plant trees, shrubs, and indoor plants. They
replenish the Earth's oxygen supply.
  Trees in your yard may reduce heating and
cooling costs and curb soil-erosion. In
addition,  they beautify your property and
increase its value.
Information Source	
Your local garden club, nature center, or
Global Releaf (American Forestry Association)
National Wildlife Federation
Backyard  Wildlife Habitat Program
1400 16th Street, NW.  Washington, DC 20036
  Apply pesticides such as insecticides and
herbicides carefully if they must be used.
  Use natural pest-control methods whenever
  Pesticides can pollute air,  ground, and
water. They can harm beneficial insects as
well as wildlife, pets, and people. Improperly
applied,  they can spread beyond the intended
area and into local water supplies.
  Purchase only the amount needed, and
follow instructions carefully, minimize use,
and reduce run-off by maintaining ample
grass cover and shrubs.
Information Source	
Local garden clubs and nature centers.

  Be careful around surfaces covered with
lead-based paint, and be cautious when
children are nearby during renovation or
rehabilitation of old buildings.
  Be alert for lead-based paint in older homes,
especially those in poor repair or in need of
painting. The fine dust from deteriorating old
paint and dust created during renovation or
rehabilitation of older buildings may contain
lead particles.  This dust can travel throughout
your house and even outside.  Keep children
away from such areas. Workers should wear
protective clothing. Consider contacting an
expert before undertaking such renovations.
  Be sure your drinking water does not
contain  harmful levels of lead. Consider
having your water tested if your house has
lead pipes or pipes with lead solder.
  Two drinking-water precautions are to run
water until it turns cooler and to use only the
coldwater tap for drinking and cooking,
especially for making baby formula. Lead can
slow children's physical and nervous-system
development and cause other neurological,
reproductive, and circulatory problems.
Information Source	—
Your local water company

Resources  &  Contacts

In addition to the groups mentioned in the
previous text, useful information is often
available from the sources listed below.

Local Government  Offices
Every state and many county and city
governments have one or more departments
devoted to environmental issues. Check in your
local telephone directory for names such as
"Department of Environmental Protection/'
"Department of Natural  Resources/'
"Department of Health/' or "Public Health
Department." If you have difficulty locating the
proper office, your EPA  regional office can help,

Emergency Numbers—Always  Open

Poison Control Center	202-625-3333
     Information on accidental ingestion of
     chemicals, poisons,  or drugs.
Pesticides	800-858-7378
                        in TX. . . 806-743-3091
     Health, toxicity, and cleanup information.

Oil & Chemical Spills	800-424-8802
                           In DC. . . 426-2675
     Used to report spills of oil and other
     hazardous materials. (U.S.Coast Guard)

Topical Information Numbers

Hazardous Waste
    Laws and regulations	800-424-9346
                           In DC. . . 382-3000
                 8:30 a.m.—7:30 p.m. EST (M-F)

    Complaints and problems	202-475-9361
                 8:00 a.m.—5:00 p.m. EST (M-F)

Pollution Prevention	800-424-9346
                           in DC. . . 382-3000
     Information about source reduction and
    EPA Public Information Center. 202-475-7755
    EPA Journal subscriptions ($8 per yr.)
    General Information	202-475-9605
Small Business
    Compliance with regulations... 800-368-5888
                          In DC. . . 557-1938
                 8:00 a.m.-^:30 p.m. EST (M-F)

       Toxic Substances
          Asbestos in schools  ...........  800-368-5888
                                      In DC... 557-1938
                           8:00 a.m.— 4:30p.m. EST (M-F)
          General information on toxic chemicals
                          8:30 a.m.— 5:00 p.m. EST (M-F)

          Wastewater treatement for small
          communities .................. 800-624-8301
  ,                       8:00 a.m.^:45 p.m. EST (M-F)

          Drinking water ................ 800-426-4791
                                    In DC. . . 382-5533
                          8:30 a.m.-^:30 p.m. EST (M-F)

Environmental Protection Agency
Regional  Offices

EPA Region 1                EPA Region 6
|FK Federal Building          12th Floor
Boston, MA 02203            1445 Ross Avenue
617-565-3424                  Dallas, TX 75202
Connecticut, Massachusetts,       214-655-2200
Maine,                        Arkansas, Louisiana,
New Hampshire,                New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
Rhode Island, Vermont
                             EPA Region 7
EPA Region 2                726 Minnesota Avenue
26 Federal Plaza              Kansas City, KS 66101
New York, NY 10278          913-236-2803
212-264-2515                  Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska
New Jersey, New York,
Puerto Rico,                   EPA Region 8
Virgin Islands                  999 18th Street
                             Denver, CO 80202-2405
EPA Region 3                303-293-1692
541 Chestnut Street           Colorado, Montana, North Dakota,
Philadelphia, PA 19107        South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming
Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, EPA Region 9
Virginia, West Virginia,          1235 Mission Street
District of Columbia             San Francisco,  CA 94103
EPA Region 4                Arizona, California, Hawaii,
345 Courtland Street, N.E.     Nevada, American Samoa, Guam,
Atlanta, GA 30365            7>HSf Territories  of the Pacific
404-347-3004                                 ;      '
Alabama, Florida, Georgia,        EPA Region 10
Kentucky, Mississippi,           1200 Sixth Avenue
North Carolina, South Carolina,    Seattle, WA 98101
Tennessee                     206-442-1465
         '   *                Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington
                                      Protection Agency
312-353-2072     Region 5, Library (PL-12J)
Illinois, Indiana, MfSKJgaM^\-  lorWnn Rr>ni.-..ovH  in.,  .-,
Minnesota, Ohio, $ffi£X  |f  corSj — j?'d«  ]"^ Floor
                wica^o,  11  60804-3090