Try This at Home
If you own a septic system, be sure to properly maintain it. Have your septic system pumped every three years (every year if your home has a garbage disposal) and inspected at least every three years. If your septic system is leaking, it will not provide any treatment of the raw wastewater from your household.
Reduce your exposure to perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, by avoiding food packaging made with it. These chemicals can be used to make food packaging—such as containers for pizza—resistant to grease. Some PFCs are carcinogenic.
Use pots and pans that are steel clad, enameled, cast iron, or anodized aluminum and avoid nonstick coatings. Such choices will help you avoid perfluorinated compounds used in manufacturing nonstick and stain-resistant coatings. Perfluorooctanoic caid, or PFOA, which is found in the blood of most Americans, has been linked to cancer and birth defects in animals. To learn more about nonstick cookware, read the article “Sticky Business” in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s journal This Green Life.
Avoid using hazardous chemicals in your garden and lawn and disposing them in your sink, on the ground, or into storm sewers. Ask your town for information about hazardous waste collection days.
Support efforts to promote more thorough testing of chemicals before they go into production. Chemicals are present in wastewater because they are present in consumer products. Yet many of these chemicals have not been thoroughly tested to understand their health effects.
In a study of 20 private drinking water wells in seven Cape Cod towns, Silent Spring Institute scientists detected low levels of pharmaceuticals and other common household chemicals, presumably from septic systems.
Eighty-five percent of the private water well samples taken contained contaminants. The 27 contaminants found included a dozen pharmaceuticals; five perfluorinated chemicals, which are found in nonstick and stain-resistant household products; four flame retardants; two hormones; one skin care product; artificial sweetener; an insect repellent; and a plastics additive.