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WSU's Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors guides Detroiters on having healthier homes

June 7, 2016

DETROIT – Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors – also known as CURES – hosted Detroiters at a special event focused on how to have healthier homes. With a nearly packed house at Matrix Human Services of Detroit, residents learned important information that can improve their health and homes.

Guy Williams, CEO and Founder of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ), kicked off the event by informing attendees about the health risks involved in many common household chemicals, plastics and more. DWEJ works in collaboration with numerous community partners, including Wayne State University, to create clean, healthy and thriving communities in Michigan by tackling environmental problems that touch homes. Through their efforts, they help shape policies that strengthen the voice of communities; educate residents in an effort to have safe and healthy neighborhoods; and assuring that as neighborhoods are rebuilt, there is a focus on repairing and protecting the environment.

Zero Waste Detroit joined the event to discuss the assistance they can give to help residents begin curbside recycling in Detroit. Through their efforts, they are helping to eliminate waste that goes in to incinerators, and ultimately reduce toxins that enter in to the environment. Staff  members from Zero Waste Detroit reach out to the community by visiting community organizations, block clubs, church groups and more. Through their efforts, they hope to expand curbside recycling programs citywide, and greatly reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and incinerators.

Melissa Cooper Sargent of the Ecology Center gave helpful tips to residents on how to keep indoor air healthier, home cleaning recipes, tips on reading cleaning labels and more. Her advice included:

  • Circulate the air in homes by opening windows and using air conditioning units less. The EPA finds that indoor air is more polluted that the air outsisde.
  • Remove shoes at the door when coming indoors to avoid tracking contaminates from outside throughout the house.
  • Eliminate the use of pesticides. Use traps and non-toxic sprays instead.
  • Use green cleaners: do not use air fresheners, avoid antibacterial soaps, and avoid products that are labeled danger, poison and flammable. Essential oils are great to use as scents in the home. White vinegar is a food grade antimicrobial, mild soap and warm water effectively remove germs after 30 seconds of washing hands, and baking soda, vinegar and mild soap can be used to make cleaning products. (For recipes, visit: http://ecocenter.org/home-cleaning-recipes)
  • Avoid BPA in plastics. Do not heat food in plastics or Styrofoam; avoid canned foods; use glass or stainless steel reusable drinking bottles. Do not drink from plastic bottles left in hot cars.

To view the top 10 tips to avoid toxics at home, visit here: http://www.ecocenter.org/sites/default/files/toxics/Top%2010%20Tips%20to%20Avoid%20Toxics%20at%20Home-EC15.pdf

Residents left with an arsenal of great tips on how to make their homes and neighborhoods healthier and cleaner.

The event was led by Peter Lichtenberg, director of the Institute of Gerontology and Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, and CARES Community Outreach & Engagement Team co-director; Melissa Sargent, CARES Community Outreach & Engagement Team advisory board co-chair and environmental health educator at the Ecology Center; Guy Williams, CEO and Founder of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice; and Brian Smith, CURES Outreach Coordinator.

The Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors is one of approximately 20 select P30 Core Centers funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (ES020957). CURES places special emphasis on understanding how environmental exposures during life windows of heightened susceptibility can adversely affect health, particularly in vulnerable persons such as children and adults of low socio-economic status, older adults, first responders, and refugees. At the heart of CURES is a grass-roots community engagement program committed to improving healthy living and working environments in the city of Detroit. CURES applies team-based approaches that integrate multiple disciplines to address pressing environmental health problems. CURES is directed by Melissa Runge-Morris, M.D., director of Wayne State University’s Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and professor of oncology.

To learn more about CURES, visit http://iehs.wayne.edu/cures.php