Reduce health hazards in your home

April 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Homes and offices are surprisingly full of environmental risks you may not know about. Learn how to minimize the health hazards. Kathy Gerwig, VP of Environmental Stewardship with Kaiser Permanente, shares her advice.

Advice for living green from Kaiser Permanente's Katherine Gerwig:

Use less stuff. This isn't about deprivation.

  • Buy durable and reusable goods.
  • Choose products made with recycled materials an with minimal or recyclable packaging.
  • Consider Craigslist or FreeSharing to find previously owned furniture, appliances, and other items, rather than buying them new.

Manage your waste

  • Even if you don't compost, you might know someone who does. Try community gardens.
  • Recycle electronics responsibly. Check with an organization like the Center for Environmental Health for guidelines and a list of responsible electronics reycling vendors in the Bay Area.
  • On the net: www.CEHCA.org
  • Don't flush pharmaceuticals.

Avoid harmful chemicals

  • When making home renovations, consider the safety of what you're installing
  • Carpet - avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) backing
  • Paint- should be "low in volatile organic compounds"

Use unscented products, and know what is in your cosmetics and personal care products.

Avoid children's jewelry that contains lead and toys that contain phthalates.

Use detergents that don't contain phosphates and avoid bleach.

Make your own cleaning supplies.

  • Using simple ingredients such as baking soda, soap and vinegar, you can make cheap, easy and non-toxic cleaning products that work. Bonus: You'll improve indoor air quality AND save money.
  • About Katherine Gerwig

    Kathy Gerwig directs Kaiser Permanente's national Workplace Safety program. She is responsible for working with labor, management and physicians to align and strengthen KP's efforts toward the goal of eliminating occupational injuries. She is also responsible for sponsoring a systemwide approach to Integrated Disability Management. As Environmental Stewardship Officer, Kathy is responsible for integrating sustainability into all of KP's work for the purpose of reducing health risks associated with environmental factors. She coordinates and leverages the many great activities taking place throughout KP, and partners with other organizations.

    Prior to her current roles, Kathy was director of the National Environmental, Health and Safety department, overseeing EH&S service and governance functions.

    Prior to joining KP, Kathy was an environmental and economic development consultant to businesses and public agencies in the United States and Europe. Prior to consulting, she worked for nonprofit environmental organizations in California.

    Kathy has a master's in business administration degree, with honors, from Pepperdine University and a bachelor's degree in geography and environmental studies from San Francisco State University. She is a Certified Professional Healthcare Risk Manager, a Certified Professional Environmental Auditor, and a Certified Healthcare Environmental Manager.


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