Green Buckeye RN

Newsletter Vol. 2 No. 2: May 2009



Rain or roof gardens are methods of conserving and filtering water, managing storm runoff, limiting erosion, and preventing contamination of water sources.  In the case of roof gardens, the “green roof” also cools it, lessening the building’s energy consumption.

Present day urban areas consisting of asphalt, pavement, rooftops, parking lots and other impervious surfaces allow rain water to collect contaminants as it washes over surfaces and ultimately delivers those contaminants to the storm drain.  Pesticides, fertilizers, oil, gasoline, transmission fluid, heavy metals, swimming pool chemicals, and animal wastes are gathered as rain water passes over the surface of  parking lots, roof tops, and driveways. 

Photograph by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel

Photograph by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel (National Geographic)

Usually collected in storm sewers, storm water often ends its journey in lakes and streams, bypassing any water treatment facility.  In communities that do not have separate sewer systems, storm water may be mixed with human waste water.  Overflow commonly ends up in surface bodies of water, again untreated …hence the closed beachs after heavy storms. 

Rain gardens are utilized by both commercial enterprises and private homeowners.  Whether trying to limit the excess collection of water in your parking lot or front yard, rain gardens can help.  Generally located in shallow yard depressions or in isolated islands (like those seen in parking lots, often to divide the parking and driving areas), rain gardens act to filter contaminated water before it returns to the storm sewer via an installed pipe, or is simply conserved in the roots of plants.  Both systems minimize the chance of runoff waters collected in the soil from reaching deeper  ground water.  Collection of water by these gardens also helps to lesson the damage of standing water to pavements and lawns.  The size of a effective rain garden depends on the size of the area which needs to be drained…about 20 percent of the area to be treated.  Hardy native plants are more likely to put down deep roots and survive without extensive attention.

Roof gardens, whether planted in containers or more directly on the roof, also limit runoff, pooling of water, and damage to contruction materials.  Additionally, roof gardens serve as a cooling source in urban heat zones.  Although more cosly to install than conventional roofs, the energy savings generated usually pays for the roof in three to five years.

Conventional roof gardens are layered constructions, starting with a waterproof barrier, drainage filters and/or storage, soil or other growing medium, and the vegetation. 

Government buildings and green lovers have been joined by an increasing number of health care facilities looking to green roofs to generate energy savings and conserve water.  In Ohio, Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital has installed a green roof.  Green roofs can also be found at the Ohio EPA, the Toledo Public Library, and the Cleveland Environmental Center (

DID YOU KNOW? The average North American residence uses half of its water outside. 

Sierra Club, Green Tips.

Healthy Yards, Healthy Streams Course: FLOW and Sierra Club will offer a six-week course on how to manage Ohio streams by making your own yard healthier, more beautiful, and safer for your family.  Topics will include rain barrels, rain gardens, composting, low-impact lawn care and backyard habitat.  Two course dates offered.  Email Heather Dean (  for more information and to register for the course.

The Central Ohio Sierra Club will host a presentation about rain gardens at the Whetstone Library in Clintonville, 3909 N. High St. Columbus, OH 43214 on May 13th. Featured speakers will be Stephanie Suter from the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District and Brandi Whetstone from the Sierra Club Clean Water Campaign.  Contact Brandi at Brandi Whetstone, Sierra Club (   Visit the Central Ohio Rain Garden Initiative website at ( ) for more information about local efforts to promote rain gardens for community beautification and clean water.

National Geographic, May 2009.  Up on the Roof

Rain Garden Booklet

Union of Concerned Scientists.  Greentips, April 2009.  Fight Water Pollution in Your Own Back Yard.

U.S. EPA : National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

U.S. EPA : Source Water Protection Practice Bulletin: Managing Storm Water Runoff to Prevent Contamination of Drinking Water


The Ohio Public Health Combined Conference, May 11-13, 2009 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Columbus, Ohio will include an environmental tract for public health and other nurses or health care professionals.  Go to for the full agenda, registration, and hotel details.

Cleanmed, the green health care conference, will be held in Chicago, Illinois on May 18-20, 2009.  The meeting focuses on environmentally preferable purchasing, sustainability, green building, and waste reduction.  Go to

The State of Environmental Justice in America 2009 Conference is slated for May 27-29, 2009 in Washington, DC.

The Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable will be held at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, IN on June 3-5, 2009.

Greening up health care’s food service is the topic of FoodMed at  The conference is scheduled for June 30 – July 1, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  Break out tracks include such topics as obesity and the food system, protecting antibiotics through sustainable food procurement, food waste management, implementing farmers markets and onsite gardens, understanding food certification ecolabels, and eating locally.

The Communities in Action for Asthma-Friendly Environments National Forum will be held on June 4-5, 2009 in Washington, D.C.  Register at

Promoting Environmental and Policy Change to support Healthy Aging to will be held September 15-16, 2009 in Chapel Hill, NC.  This symposium is part of the CDC’s Healthy Aging Program.

The 2009 National Environmental Public Health Conference: Healthy People in a Healthy Environment will be held October 25-28, 2009 in Atlanta Georgia.  Abstracts are due May 8, 2009.



The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics ( released “No More Toxic Tub: Getting Contaminants Our of Children’s Bath & Personal Care Products.” Forty-eight products were tested for the presence of 1, 4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen.  Twenty-eight of the products were also tested for the presence of formaldehyde, again a probable carcinogen according to the EPA.  These two ingredients are merely a dot among the 12,500 different ingredients in personal care products.  Look closely at this report.  I’m willing to wager that you have used many of these “trusted” products. Download your copy at

The Organic Consumers Association ( and The Green Patriot Working Group ( published their March 2009 Safety Guide to “Personal Care and Cleaning Products.”  This one-pager lists safe products and those to avoid in categories of diswashing soap, hand soap, all purpose soaps, household cleaners, baby & childrens’ body wash and shampoo, shampoos & conditioners, body wash, facial cleansers, lotions, sunscreens, shave lotions, and deoderant.  Download at

An updated “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide”from the Environmental Working Group ( lists the organically-grown fruits and vegetables to purchase based on the amount of pesticides used in the growing process.  The apple is #2 in the Dirty Dozen.  Find #1 at

Practice Greenhealth ( has launched a new web-based tool to calculate the public health impact and costs of electricity consumer by health facilities in the United States generated from non-renewable fossil fuel.  The Health Care Clean Energy Exchange Energy Impact Calculator (EIC) calculates surfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and mercury emissions based on kilowatt use by the facility and the fuel mix of the relevant poser grid.  Applying peer-reviewed data provided by Envrionmental Protection Agency and other experts, the EIC then estimates the health impact and costs of health incidents such as premature death, chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks and hospital ER visits created by these emissions.  The Energy Impact Calculator is available to all members and is also available to the genereral public.  (From the January 2009 issue of Greenhealth, a Practice Greenhealth publication.)  Find the EIC at

The US Department of Health & Human Services’ Household Products Database is a handy site to look up chemical products and their effects is located at   Includes auto products, household cleaners and air fresheners, pesticides, lawn & swimming pool products, personal care products, home maintenance items such as putty, gout, & insulation, arts & crafts supplies, pet care products, and home office supplies.

SC Johnson ( has made public the contents of their household cleaning products.  Kudos!  Go to

Google announced the beta launch of a new free web application called PowerMeter designed to provide users who already have “smart” electricity meters in place to track exactly how their homes are consuming energy.  The software, still in prototype stage, can tell users, for example, which applicances in their homes are using the most energy.  In the US, only about 2 million homes are currently equipped with smart meters.  From E-Magazine ( 2/27/ 2009.

The Center for Environmental Oncology ( at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute has released their Spring 09 newsletter including articles on women and the environment, the breast cancer-work connection, breast milk and environmental pollutants, and nurse’s chemical exposure in the workplace.  This publication is always filled with useful links and resources.  Download the pdf publication from the website.
The Environmental Conservation Briefing Book 2009,  produced by the Ohio League of Conservation Voters (  and the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), is available for download at the OEC website,

The Alliance for Nurses for Healthy Environments (  is a new organization of individual nurses and representatives of nursing organizations that are addressing environmental health through nursing and patient education, nursing practice, research, and policy efforts.

The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) announced its release of the Critical Windows of Development, an interactive web page that pairs normal human development in the womb with laboratory research showing where and when low-dose exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates and dioxin has effects.

The March 09 issue of Environmental Health included the report of a study on the link between hospital cleaning products and worker health.  The abstract is available at   A Medscape article discussing the study entitled Chemicals in Hospital Cleaning Products May Affect Workers’ Health  may also be accessed at   This study is one of several linking exposure to cleaning products and solvents to respiratory disease, including occupationally-acquired asthma.


United States Capitol Building


Legislation: At the Federal Level
President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 into law.  The law preserves over two million acres of wilderness and scenic rivers, provides habitat protections for some birds, and enlarges fifteen of our national parks. 

The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) requires the phase out of the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in the feedstock of livestock and poutry.  S. 619, introduced by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and H.R. 1549, introduced by Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) require the elimination of some tetracyclines, penicillin G, macrolide, lincosamide, stretogramin, aminoglycoside, and sulfonamide for routine use in non-ill animals.  The routine use of antibiotics in animal husbandry is considered a source of increasing antibiotic resistance.

Read the bills at  Further information concerning antibiotic resistance is available at

Senators Feingold (D-WI), Boxer (D-CA), and Cardin (D-MD) introduced The Clean Water Restoration Act to the 111th Congress this month.  Intended to close loop holes opened up by regulatory changes and Supreme Court rulings, this act would protect streams, lakes, rivers, and wetlands from industrial waste and destruction of wild life habitat.  Currently, only “navigable” waters are protected from dumping of industrial waste.  Contact your senators and representatives and ask them to support measures to restore protections to all water sources.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure included sewage right-to-know notification provisions in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) reauthorization (HR 1262).  The bill passed out of committee on March 20, 2009.  The Clean Water SRF helps pay for critical stormwater, wastewater, and drinking water needs across the country.  The sewage right-to-know provisions require public notification when a swer spill has potential to affect the public health.    From 3/20/2009.

The National Water Research and Development Initiative Act of 2009 (HR 1145) was introduced to the House on February 24, 2009 by Representative Bart Gordon (D-TN).  The purpose of this act is to” address changes in water use, supply and demand in the U.S., including providing additional support to increase water supply through greater efficiency and conservation.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will issue regulations on worker exposure to diacetyl, a food flavor chemical used in the production of microwave popcorn to provide a buttery flavor.  Workers exposed to diacetyl may develop “popcorn lung.”  For more reading on the topic, go to

At the EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency released 2007 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data on March 19 of this year.  The TRI collects data on toxic chemical and other waste releases on the part of business and industry.  The rules governing the TRI requirements for reporting releases were altered during the Bush administration…eliminating reporting regulations for releases on the smaller end of the scale despite huge public protest.  The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 restored TRI reporting requirements to their original status. View the Toxic Release Inventory at   To look at pollution in your area, go to and type in your zipcode. 

The U.S. EPA’s Strategic Plan for Evaluating the Toxicity of Chemicals, released in March of this year, offers a new paradign for evaluating chemical toxicity and potential impacts on human health.  The evaluation of chemicals already in everyday use and their potential to cause illness and/or developmental problems is long overdue.  Access the report at

Earlier this month, the EPA began a review of coal ash storage practices.  Coal ash is the heavy metal-containing waste product produced during the combustion process.  Following the spill of coal ash in Kingston, Tennessee, the storage practices of power companies burning coal came under scrutiny.   The EPA is currently collecting data on coal ash storage practices nationwide in an effort to assess threats to public health and the environment.  The EPA expects to have regulations regarding coal ash by the end of this year.

Did you know?  Coal ash is disposed of in coal ash ponds and landfills.  Maryland’s coal waste is disposed of right next door in West Virginia’s coal ash ponds.  Where are Ohio’s disposal sites?  Does Ohio accept waste from other states?

Legislation: At the State Level
The focus in the General Assembly is on the completion of Ohio’s budget bills.  The outcomes of H.B. 2, the Transportation Budget, have received a lot of attention from environmental advocates…especially as concerns mass transit and diesel technologies.  On March 5, 2009 the Ohio House of Representatives approved a budget which includes the establishment of a passenger train service linking Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Springfield and Dayton.   Other greening measures included in the House version of H.B. 2 are investment in clean diesel technologies, both publicly and privately owned, improvement and repair of the Ohio Turnpike, consumer rebate programs for housholds using appliances with the Energy Star label, and bucking up state energy building codes.  The Ohio Environmental Council ( can be credited for their advocacy of greener transportation in the state.  The bill was signed by Governor Strickland on April 1st.

Ohioans for Health, Environment and Justice (OHEJ) hopes to see their environmental justice bill introduced in the General Assembly by the end of 2009 (   This group of grassroots advocates has been gathering input from citizens throughout Ohio whose health, homes, and communities have been adversely impacted by contamination of their environment by proximity to military complexes, landfills, brownfields, major highways, and industry.  The group also hopes to simulate regulatory change through the Ohio EPA.
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray dropped a lawsuit against lead paint manufacturere accused of violating the state’s public nuisance law and committing fraud by manufacturing and selling lead paint.  The dropped suit comes months after a disappointing decision by the Rhode Island Supreme Court to overturn the landmark verdict finding paint companies liable for creating a public nuisance in Rhode Island.  (Excerpted from Alliance Alert, a monthly electronic newsletter by the Alliance for Healthy Homes at

At the Ohio EPA
Ohio EPA has released the fish consumption advisory updates for the 2009 fishing season.  In addition to these updates, all Ohio fish advisories can be found on Ohio EPA’s web site at or call 1-800-755-4769 or (614) 644-2160.  Check this out before you eat your catch!  Many fish contain mercury, a potent neurotoxin, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), a substance that has been banned since the 1970’s due to its potent toxicity and persistance in the environment, including wild life that ingest the substance.


Letters From Eden, A Year at Home, in the Woods (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006) combines the journals and artistry of Julie Zickefoose, a resident of Appalachian Ohio.  This beautiful book showcases Zickefoose’s love of all wild things in general, and birds in particular.  Lavishly illustrated with the artist’s sketches and watercolors, the author shares notes about her life and passion through walks in her own backyard and  the neighboring area as the seasons change.  A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Elizabeth Royte’s Garbage Land (Little, Brown and Company, 2005) is the story of one Brooklynite’s study of what happens to garbage…from the wastebasket and garbage can to the recycling center, compost heap, and landfill.  Royte follows her trash from on place to another, even out-of-state to view the final resting place of her throw-aways.  An illuminating look at what really happens to the megatons of garbage that we generate and cannot quite disappear!



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