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Resources: Protecting the Environment

At Home and in the Garden


Resources for Concerned Citizens

United We Serve - Serve.gov Search for volunteer opportunities in your community at Serve.gov

Learn about Your Right to Know

Right-to-know laws provide information about possible chemical exposures. Discover resources EPA provides the public in the spirit of right-to-know.

Learn about your right to know >>

Search for and Comment on Regulations

Our proposed regulations are almost always open to the public for comment. Your participation leads to better regulations.

Search for and comment on regulations >>

At Home and in the Garden

Tips for home safety, avoiding potential risks, and preventing pollution by recycling and conserving water and energy.

Protect the environment at home and in your garden >>

At Work

Information about preventing pollution in your workplace, and raising awareness of health and safety issues.

Keep work environments safe >>

On the Road

Consumer information about the environmental impacts of transportation plus tips on cleaner cars, saving gas and improving mileage, boating pollution prevention tips, and more.

Learn about the environmental impacts of transportation >>

At School

Whether you are a student or a teacher in a class about the environment, EPA has lots of educational resources to offer you.

Keep school environments safe >>

While Shopping

Find helpful information on how to choose purchases that will reduce pollution, save energy and money.

Learn to be an environmentally-savvy shopper >>

In Your Community

Learn how to protect your neighborhood's natural resources, and get information on air and water quality in your community.

Protect the environment in your community >>

Think Globally, Act Locally

Learn about environmental issues that impact our world, and about programs, opportunities, and tools to help you get involved and make a difference in your community.

More on thinking globally and acting locally >>

Report a Violation or Emergency

Information on potential environmental violations and how to report a suspicious situation. To report oil and chemical spills, call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.

Learn how to report violations and emergencies | Information on natural disasters >>

Children's Health

Information on how to protect children from toxins, the sun, lead, and other potential environmental health threats.

More on children's health >>

Sign Up to Receive Go Green!

Go Green! is a monthly email with "what you can do" consumer information about activities, events, and environmental tips that everyone can use at home, at work, and in their communities. Sign up for this newsletter.

Tips for home safety, avoiding potential risks, and preventing pollution by recycling and conserving water and energy.

Saving Energy

Find Energy Star products for your home - Choosing energy-efficient products can save families about 30% ($400 a year) while reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases. Whether you are looking to replace old appliances, remodel, or buy a new house, you can help. ENERGY STAR is the government's backed symbol for energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR label makes it easy to know which products to buy without sacrificing features, style or comfort that today's consumers expect.

More steps you can take:

  • Turn off appliances and lights when you leave the room.
  • Use the microwave to cook small meals. (It uses less power than an oven.)
  • Purchase "green power" for your home's electricity. (Contact your power supplier to see where and if it is available.)
  • Have leaky air conditioning and refrigeration systems repaired.
  • Cut back on air conditioning and heating use if you can.
  • Insulate your home, water heater and pipes.

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Reducing Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Addressing air pollution in your home - The choices you make at home affect the amount of pollution outside your home as well as inside. Learn what you can do to pollute less and all the while save some money.

Climate change: what you can do at home and in the garden - Making a few small changes in your home and yard can lead to big reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and save money.

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Conserving Water

Choose water-efficient products and test your WaterSense - A family of four uses 400 gallons of water every day. EPA's WaterSense program helps conserve water for future generations by providing information on products and programs that save water without sacrificing performance.

More steps you can take:

  • Don't let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Take short showers instead of tub baths.
  • Keep drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
  • Scrape, rather than rinse, dishes before loading into the dishwasher; wash only full loads.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine.
  • Buy high-efficient plumbing fixtures & appliances.
  • Repair all leaks (a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons a day).
  • Water the lawn or garden during the coolest part of the day (early morning is best).
  • Water plants differently according to what they need. Check with your local extension service or nurseries for advice.
  • Set sprinklers to water the lawn or garden only - not the street or sidewalk.
  • Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation systems for trees and shrubs.
  • Keep your yard healthy - dethatch, use mulch, etc.
  • Sweep outside instead of using a hose.
  • Landscape using "rain garden" techniques to save water and reduce stormwater runoff.
    Video: "Reduce Runoff: Slow It Down, Spread It Out, Soak It In"

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Reducing, Reusing and Recycling Materials

Practice the three R's: first reduce how much you use, then reuse what you can, and then recycle the rest. Then, dispose of what's left in the most environmentally friendly way. Read the tips below and explore the Consumer's Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste.

  • Reduce:
    • Buy permanent items instead of disposables.
    • Buy and use only what you need.
    • Buy products with less packaging.
    • Buy products that use less toxic chemicals.
  • Reuse:
    • Repair items as much as possible.
    • Use durable coffee mugs.
    • Use cloth napkins or towels.
    • Clean out juice bottles and use them for water.
    • Use empty jars to hold leftover food.
    • Reuse boxes.
    • Purchase refillable pens and pencils.
    • Participate in a paint collection and reuse program.
    • Donate extras to people you know or to charity instead of throwing them away.
  • Recycle:

Learn more:

Reducing and recycling wastes, including syringes and other medical wastes, and used oil.

Recycling and properly disposing of materials:

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Ensuring Safe Drinking Water

Actions You Can Take to Reduce Lead In Drinking Water - This publication offers information and solutions to many common questions surrounding lead in your drinking water.

Cleaner Water through Conservation - Explains the relationship between the quantity of water and its quality and discusses how developing water-use efficiency programs can help states and local communities achieve cleaner water through conserving water.

Drinking Water - The home page for the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water.

Drinking Water and Health: What you need to know (PDF) - This EPA publication (EPA 816-K-99-001) answers many basic questions about drinking water systems. (11 pp, 995K, About PDF)

Drinking Water Contaminants - EPA sets standards for approximately 90 contaminants in drinking water. This Web site contains more detailed information on specific contaminants.

Local Drinking Water Information - This page gives consumers an easy way to find information about their drinking water supplier, their sources of drinking water, and what their state drinking water program is doing.

Private Drinking Water Wells - Learn how to test and protect your private well water.

Water on Tap - How safe is my drinking water? Where does my drinking water come from, and how does it get to my home? What can I do to help protect my drinking water? This publication examines these questions and offers information on protecting your drinking water.

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Improving Indoor Air Quality

Asbestos in Your Home - This online pamphlet will help you understand asbestos: what it is, its health effects, where it is in your home, and what to do about it.

Indoor Air Quality in Homes - While pollutant levels from individual sources may not pose a significant health risk by themselves, most homes have more than one source that contributes to indoor air pollution. There can be a serious risk from the cumulative effects of these sources. Find out about how to protect you and your family.

Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems (PDF) - (15 pp, 1.6MB, About PDF) This fact sheet discusses problems caused by microbial growth, as well as other potential effects of flooding, on long-term indoor air quality and the steps you can take to lessen these effects.

Reduce Risks of Radon : Test and Fix Your Home - You can't see radon. And you can't smell it or taste it. But it may be a problem in your home. Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. Get information to reduce radon levels in your home.

Secondhand Smoke - This site discusses the health risks to children and adults from secondhand smoke with particular regard to immediate health effects with links to publications.

Protect Your Family and Yourself from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning - Knowing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and immediate first aid techniques provided in this document can save your life or the lives of your family.

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Using Toxics and Pesticides Safely

What is a Pesticide? - This document explains what is and what is not a pesticide.

What are Biopesticides? - Different from conventional pesticides, biopesticides are a group of pesticides that are sometimes controversial and make their way into the media. This web page helps to educate the public on this class of pesticides.

National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) - This site provides a wide variety of pesticide-related information as well as a toll-free number for further information.

Ten Tips to Protect Children from Pesticide and Lead Poisonings around the Home - These simple steps can help you save children from environmental hazards around the home.
* Spanish Version

Protecting Pets - Learn how to protect your pets from pests and potential pesticide risks by following product label directions and understanding the precautions.

Controlling Pests - Learn how to reduce the need for pesticides and how to use pesticides safely

Disposing of toxics and pesticides - Common household items such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides contain hazardous components. Although we cannot completely stop using hazardous products, we can make sure that leftovers are managed properly. The best way to handle household hazardous waste is to give leftovers to someone else to use.

Many communities have set up collection programs to keep hazardous products out of landfills and combustors. More than 3,000 household hazardous waste (HHW) collection programs exist in the United States. Find out more about HHW.

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Reducing Your Exposure to Harmful Substances

Air quality - Explore EPA's AirCompare site. Discover how the air quality in your city compares with other cities, what time of year has the best air quality, and whether air quality in your area is improving or getting worse.

Asbestos - Wondering whether your home might contain asbestos? or what to do if you know materials in your home contain asbestos?

Lead and Indoor Air Quality - Humans are exposed to lead in many ways; through air, drinking water, food, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint, and dust. This publication explains the dangers from lead, suggesting ways to reduce your exposure. Learn more about lead

Mercury - Mercury is contained in some of the fish we eat, whether caught in local lakes and streams or bought in a grocery store. Mercury is also contained in some of the products we use, which may be found in your home, at the dentist, and at schools.

Mold - Learn how to control moisture and mold in your home, and how to cleanup moldy areas.

Pesticides - Find out how to use pesticides safely in your home.

Radon - Radon is a cancer-causing natural radioactive gas that you can't see, smell or taste. Its presence in your home can pose a danger to your family's health. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America.

Renovation and home remodeling -

Sun Safety: Learn about the UV Index - Do you know that a few simple precautions can help protect you and your children from skin cancer and serious eye injury?

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Using Safer Cleaning Products

Using safer cleaning products can help protect your family’s health and the environment. EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Program allows safer products to carry the DfE label, through its Safer Product Labeling Program. The DfE mark enables consumers to quickly identify and choose products that can help protect the environment and are safer for families. Find DfE-labeled products.

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Pollution Prevention

Recycling - This document provides an overview of recycling including what is in our trash and steps you can take to recycle at home.

Recycling Hotline: Earth 911 Exit EPA Disclaimer - By simply typing in your zip code, this hotline helps you locate recycling centers in your community "for all types of recyclables."

The Consumer's Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste - This booklet describes how people can help solve a growing problem...garbage! Individual consumers can help alleviate America's mounting trash problem by making environmentally aware decisions about everyday things like shopping and caring for the lawn.

Where Can I Take My Computer? - EPA's Product Stewardship website has information on opportunities for donating and recycling computers and other electronics.

Used Oil Management Program - Provides information about changing motor oil, recycling used oil, and changing and recycling used oil filters.

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Buying and Maintaining an Environmentally Friendly House

Design for the Environment - Look for the DfE label when you shop. Design for the Environment allows manufacturers to put the DfE label on household and commercial products, such as cleaners and detergents, that meet stringent criteria for human and environmental health. Using these products can protect your family's health and the environment.

Energy Efficient Homes and Heating and Cooling Systems - This resource discusses home products such as air conditioners, furnaces, and thermostats, and illustrates the savings for homeowners who buy Energy Star products.

Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon - This Guide answers important questions about radon and lung cancer risk.  It also answers questions about testing and fixing radon hazards for anyone buying or selling a home.

EPA's Clean Energy Site - Clean energy is energy derived from highly efficient, clean technologies, including renewable, "green" power, and combined heat and power. The EPA's Clean Energy Programs are designed to improve the national foundation of information on Clean Energy by creating networks between the public and private sector, providing technical assistance, and offering recognition of environmental leaders that adopt Clean Energy practices.

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Lawn and Garden Care

Lawn and Garden and Tips for a Waste-Free Lawn and Garden - Learn about many things you can do to reduce waste and conserve resources from caring for you lawn and garden equipment, to greenscaping.

Your Yard and Clean Air - This document provides tips on how you can prevent pollution in your own backyard by adopting practices that will help protect the environment now and in the future.

Green Landscaping with Native Plants - This site provides a wizard that answers commonly asked questions about landscaping with native wild flowers and grasses in the Great Lakes region.

The Hidden Hazards of Backyard Burning (PDF) (2 pp, 272K, About PDF) - This EPA publication (EPA 530-F-03-012) informs citizens of the health hazards of burning household waste in burn barrels and open piles and providing alternatives to burning.

Natural Landscaping - Online publication explaining natural landscaping ideas.

Greenscaping - EPA's GreenScapes Program can show you how to reduce the environmental impacts of landscaping your lawn and property by grasscycling, mulching, and composting.

Composting - Discusses what composting is, what compost can be used for, and other related topics.

Compost Yard Trimmings and Some Food Scraps - Food scraps and yard trimmings can be turned into natural additives for lawns and gardens, and can significantly reduce the amount of waste that goes in a landfill.

The Natural Landscaping Alternative: An Annotated Slide Collection - Native plants provide a beautiful, hardy, drought resistant, low maintenance landscape while benefiting the environment. This Annotated Slide Collection contains fifty slides selected for their ability to define natural landscaping and explain its benefits, to illustrate applications of natural landscaping, and to demonstrate installation and management techniques.

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