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Health and the Environment: Ten Ways to Change Your World

  1. Planting trees helps the environment because trees absorb carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas that promotes global warming).
  2. Help your parents pull weeds and use organic products on the lawn instead of spraying it with chemicals; they are harmful to the environment, animals, and humans.1
  3. Wash your hands with regular (not antibacterial) soap because some antibacterial soaps contain pesticides.1
  4. Peel fruits and vegetables and wash them under running water. This reduces the levels of pesticides that may be on the surface.1
  5. Avoid buying Styrofoam; it can’t be recycled and does not break down naturally in the environment.2
  6. Turn off the lights and TV when you are not in the room. The fuels that power our electricity are harmful to the environment.
  7. Instead of using commercial air fresheners, you can make your own with the help of an adult; mix cedar and lavender together in a bowl or put cinnamon sticks in boiling water.3
  8. Some store-bought food contains pesticide residues or hormones. Try to buy organic (no chemicals added) food-especially meat, milk, and berries.
  9. Don’t microwave food in plastic containers or under plastic wraps or films (even if they are labeled “microwave safe”); some of the chemicals in the plastic may transfer to your food.4
  10. Eating more fruits and vegetables will help reduce the risk of developing certain cancers!1

Sources include:

  1. Cancer and the Environment: What You Need to Know; What You Can Do (pdf) – Published by the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. NIH Publication No. 03-2039. (August 2003)
  2. Goodyear, Charlie. “Styrofoam Ban for Restaurants Proposed for ’07 / Business Owners Split on Forced Switch to Eco-Friendly Options.” San Francisco Chronicle June 27, 2006: B-1.
  3. Weschler CJ. 2006. Ozone’s impact on public health: Contributions from indoor exposures to ozone and products of ozone-initiated chemistry. Environ Health Perspect 114(10):1489-96.
  4. Plastic wrap.” Food Lover’s Companion. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc, 2001. Retrieved January 23, 2008, from
  5. And the US Environmental Protection Agency,