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Five Ways to Improve Air Quality in your Home

By Charity Lombardi-Simard, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Charity is president of Lombardi Oil & Gas. She is second generation in the family business that was started by her father in the 1950’s. Her interest in the industry is the continued evolution and fast-paced movement into cleaner and more efficient energy. Her vision for the business is to maintain a personal culture with the community and to provide options and service to those that heat with fuel – with focus on hi-efficiency equipment, use of new technologies and Biofuel delivery. In her personal time, Charity is active in the Icelandic Horse Community, with 2 of her own. She travels regularly to Iceland to train and supports promotion of the breed in the US.
Lombardi Oil & Gas
Air Quality, Newburyport MA

You probably filter most of the two or three quarts of water you drink every day. But what about the 15,000 quarts of air you breathe, especially inside your home?

The fact is, indoor air can be four or five times more polluted than outside air. Why does this happen? Well, it starts with the fact that today’s homes are increasingly airtight – a consequence of building and modifying them to be more energy efficient. That means that whatever pollutants gather in your home tend to stay there.

The second part of the equation is that toxic products have become much more common in the home: from VOC-containing construction materials to chemicals contained in cleaning and personal care products and furniture items, your space is filled with potentially harmful fumes. Add that to the toxic load of outdoor air pollutants like radon and pesticides, plus other indoor pollutants such as pet dander, dust mites, and mold, and viola – you’ve got bad air.

Over time, this mix of pollutants can cause asthma and other chronic respiratory problems, along with headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue.

Five easy ways to improve indoor air quality (IAQ)

The good news is that by taking some simple precautions and making smarter buying choices, you can greatly improve air quality in your home. Here are five suggestions:

  1. Replace toxic cleaning products with natural alternatives – Shop wisely for your cleaning products, or make your own: vinegar and baking soda are great natural cleaning agents that cut grease, clean drains, kill germs, and more.
  1. Choose low –VOC paint and healthier construction materials – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in paint can cause eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment. You’ll pay a little more for low-VOC paint, but it’s a much healthier alternative. Look for mold resistant building materials, too.
  1. Add greenery – Plants absorb toxic chemicals through their leaves. Plant roots and soil bacteria also remove trace levels of toxic vapors. They look great, too!
  1. Maintain your HVAC system – Sign up for a Service Plan to keep your HVAC system working properly and moving air freely – and consider investing in a duct cleaning to remove allergens and mold.
  2. Consider installing a whole-house UV filter – The air filter in your home’s HVAC does a good job with dust, dirt, pollen and pet dander. But filters can’t do anything about chemical or biological contaminants like air-borne viruses, mold, germs, bacteria or volatile organic compounds (VOC). That’s where indoor air quality equipment like an UV Filter or whole-house air purifier come in.

With powerful filtering capabilities, these add-ons to your home HVAC system will keep pollutants at bay, helping your family breathe easier for years to come.

Contact us today to discuss service plan options and schedule service!

 

 

 

PFAS in MA Drinking Water – What You Should Know

By Bill Cooper, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
As President & Co-Founder of Blue Ribbon Water, Bill Cooper utilizes his extensive sales and marketing experience combined with strong knowledge of local municipal water challenges to create an environmentally conscious company that delivers whole house water filtration systems. Blue Ribbon Water’s focus is to deliver “Cleaner, Healthier, Great Tasting Water” (sm) throughout the entire home, restaurant, or business. The company was founded on three simple principles: 1) Be the expert on the water in each town we do business, so our solutions is the best possible. 2) Deliver superior full customer service including installation and scheduled filter changes. 3) Be honest and don’t sell customers what they don’t need. Other water filter companies, or plumbers who do water filters ‘on the side’, lack in all these areas. For instance, many residents are told they need an expensive water softener when they do not. City water rarely needs a water softener. Other companies leave it up to the customer to remember to have their filter changed. Blue Ribbon Water keeps a database of filter changes and automatically alerts the customer. Bill has lived in Newbury with his wife Debra for over 30 years. They raised their two boys here, and Bill was on the Newbury Finance Committee.
Blue Ribbon Water
PFAS in MA Drinking Water, Blue Ribbon Water, Newburyport

PFAS is back in the news again! If you have not immersed yourself in the whole PFOA / PFAS in drinking water topic, now is a great time to dive in. The Boston Globe reported on Sunday May 23 that more towns have tested above the new state legal limit for PFAS6. This blog sets out to address questions about PFAS, who should be concerned and why.

PFAS in Drinking Water: Everything you need to know.

What is PFAS? PFAS is short for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances. PFAS and its cousin PFOA are highly toxic man-made ‘forever’ chemicals. ‘Forever’, because they do not break down in the environment. PFAS and PFOA are used in manufacturing common consumer products like furniture, carpet, packaging and most famously, Teflon and firefighting foam.

Why is this important? Although most PFAS and PFOA have stopped being produced, the toxic chemicals are still in the environment and have been seeping into the ground and aquafers for decades. We have been exposed to PSAF in varying degrees for years through ingestion of food, water, and manufactured products. Studies indicate that exposure to PFAS increases the risk of cancer, harms the development of the fetus and reduces the effectiveness of vaccines. Biomonitoring studies by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the blood of nearly all Americans is contaminated with PFAS.”

Is it regulated? Because drinking water is a major source of PFAS ingestion, steps are being taken to tighten regulations on PFAS (I will refer to all forms of PFAS/ PFOA, etc as simply PFAS in this article) in drinking water. Currently, municipalities must ensure that PFAS levels do not exceed 70 parts per trillion (ppt).

One reason PFAS is in the news again is because the Massachusetts DEP published a new set of drinking water quality standards for PFAS-6 (the 6 most concerning variations) last October, and the results are now being published. The new maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 20 ppt (parts per trillion) is more stringent than the current Federal EPA MCL of 70 ppt.

In Massachusetts, cities and towns with water districts greater than 10,000 customers must begin testing and reporting for PFAS6. The testing has exposed over 65 water distribution locations in Massachusetts including Wellesley, Natick, Burlington, Wayland and even at the Old Newbury Golf Club in Newbury.

How do I know if there is PFAS in our water? The state maintains a database of all water test results for PFAS (and dozens of other toxins in our water), that is available to the public. Blue Ribbon Water monitors this database regularly for changes in contaminants. The database is easy to use, and you can download parameters to a spreadsheet. But you can find a consolidated report of all Massachusetts cities and towns on Blue Ribbon Water’s website.

Check your town: www.blueribbonwater.com/

Will water filters take out PFAS?

Yes, there are water filters on the market that reduce PFAS from drinking water. Some (very few) have gone through the stringent process of being certified by the NSF to meet NSF/ANSI 53: Drinking Water Treatment Units – Health Effects or NSF/ANSI 58: Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Treatment Systems testing standards.

Certification is a lengthy, expensive process that only a handful of manufacturers have pursued. As demand grows however, more and more filters manufacturers will apply for certification. There are some types of filters you can count on, regardless of ‘certification’. NSF/ANSI 53 only certifies a products reduction capability to below the EPA standard of 70ppt. So, there is currently no certification to the new Massachusetts standard of 20ppt.

What to consider:

There are several filter types that DO reduce PFAS very effectively, even if they are not NSF/ANSI 53 certified.

Reverse Osmosis is a very effective type of filter in eliminating almost everything from drinking water (including the good minerals we want). But in areas with extremely high levels of PFAS it is an effective solution.

Whole-house filters. If you are considering a whole-house filter, finding one that is currently NSF/ANSI 53 certified is the best start. There are several that are certified, but most with high quality activated carbon should work well. The trick with whole-house filters is the ‘contact time’ of the water with the carbon. The longer the ‘contact time’ the better, so carbon block filters with extremely tiny pores will have the greatest surface area and longer ‘contact time’. We recommend ½ micron extruded carbon block filters.

Under sink: Very few have been NSF/ANSI 53 certified, but many are extremely effective. Under sink filters with ½ micron carbon block filtration will have long ‘contact time’ and will be your best bet.

Countertop filters like Brita. These small filters will not address PFAS effectively.

Conclusion:

PFAS is an emerging threat to our drinking water. The EPA is so far behind in updating regulations, leaving it to the states to mandate safe levels. The differences from state to state, and the state to the federal government will be with us for some time. As long as there is not one single standard, manufacturers and organizations like the NSF have nothing to go on when certifying products for the public for every state regulation. As a consumer, the best thing to do is ‘something’. If you have concerns about PFAS or other contaminants, and want to do something about it, write your representatives, and purchase the best water purification product you can justify. Doing ‘nothing’ just doesn’t seem the right option.

View more information regarding Blue Ribbon Water if you found this article helpful.

MINCO Smart Growth Project at One Boston Way to Bring Much Needed Rental Units

By Caitlin Dowling, Newburyport.com Correspondent
Caitlin is a freelance editor/writer and former news producer for CNN. As a local mom of three, her family can be found enjoying all Newburyport has to offer, from strolling downtown to biking the rail trail to swimming at the beach.
MINCO Smart Growth One Boston Way Newburyport

The MINCO Smart Growth Project at One Boston Way will bring affordable rental housing options to the city of Newburyport in a quickly developing new neighborhood. Located off the Rail Trail with close proximity to the commuter rail train station, the MINCO development brings easily accessible apartments for commuters, as well as affordable living options for families, in an area that is growing in retail and entertainment.

Designed by MINCO Development, a North Andover firm, the project will feature a single 4-story building offering a total of 76 units. Along with much needed rental opportunities for city residences, this smart growth project—the first of its kind in Newburyport—will create 19 affordable housing units. Under state guidelines, a smart growth project must deem 25 percent of the building’s units to be affordable housing.

The project is also set to be the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building in the city. This means the building is designed to be energy-efficient, water-efficient, and offer environmentally friendly features such as being located near public transportation and offering electric car charging stations. In addition, the MINCO project will also feature environmentally friendly carpet, cabinets, countertops, and windows.

The location is extremely convenient for those commuting daily on the train, to both Rt. 1 and 95, as well as the Rail Trail if you work downtown. Along with an easy commute, projects like One Boston Way aims to create a community that you will want to spend time enjoying. The area—which already features breweries, gyms, restaurants, and more— is quickly developing into a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. Current businesses like Metzy’s Cantina owner Erik Metzdorf are welcoming the new foot traffic.

“I’m so excited to see the town push beyond its downtown area to a location I have always seen the value in. The boom of these projects has in turn brought in new customers to the local businesses, as well as enticing new ones to open,” said Metzdorf.

The MINCO project at One Boston Way broke ground in late December of 2019. Apartments are expected to be made available by the Spring of 2021. Follow the One Boston Way official site to stay up to date on the project, see availability, and for contact information.

 

Repair Café, Don’t Ditch It, Fix It: Electronics Repair, Jewelry Repair & More

By Laura Bentley, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Owner of Newburyport.Com, Laura manages Business Development, Fundraising, the VIP Program, Blogging and the Events Calendar.
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Grab that old toaster that’s lacking the heat or wristwatch that has you constantly running late and pay a visit to the experts at Repair Café on Saturday, January 25th from 10 am to 2 pm at the Newburyport Community/Senior Center. This pop-up event performs a wide variety of services including electronics repair, jewelry repair, and so much more.

Repair Café is a completely free service, matching up volunteer repairers with those in need of a service to troubleshoot the problem together. Along with electronics repairs and jewelry repairs, other common items include clothing, computers, ceramics, bicycles, and toys. Here is a full list of repair stations being offered at the upcoming event.

Organized by The Time Trade Network of Newburyport and Toward Zero Waste Newburyport, this will be the fourth Repair Café held in Newburyport. Over 250 Visitors with more than 350 items visited the Cafés last year.

With the slogan “Don’t ditch it, fix it,” organizers and participants donate their time in an effort to reduce the volume of materials waste, contributing to Newburyport’s zero waste goal. Repairers encourage visitors to watch and ask questions so they can not only take home a working end product but also take home some knowledge of how to fix something similar on their own.

It’s important to note that Repair Café does not offer any guarantees that they can fix your item nor are they held responsible if an item has any additional damage or stops working at home. Whether you come in for jewelry repairs or electronics repairs, if the problem turns out to be more complicated then a short session with a volunteer, Repair Café can also refer you out to a specialist.

Think you have a skill to share? Whether you’re a tinker, bike expert, computer pro, or master seamstress—Repair Café can use your help! Email RepairCafeNBPT@gmail.com or call 978-225-3440 to sign up and donate your time.

If you’re in need of repairs but can’t make this Repair Café, follow their official facebook page to stay up to date on the next event.

 

Biofuel Also known as Bioheat is the Evolution of Oil Heat!

By Charity Lombardi-Simard, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Charity is president of Lombardi Oil & Gas. She is second generation in the family business that was started by her father in the 1950’s. Her interest in the industry is the continued evolution and fast-paced movement into cleaner and more efficient energy. Her vision for the business is to maintain a personal culture with the community and to provide options and service to those that heat with fuel – with focus on hi-efficiency equipment, use of new technologies and Biofuel delivery. In her personal time, Charity is active in the Icelandic Horse Community, with 2 of her own. She travels regularly to Iceland to train and supports promotion of the breed in the US.
Lombardi Oil & Gas
Biofuel and Bioheat Newburyport

Biofuel, also known as bioheat is a blend of ultra-low sulfur heating oil with renewable biodiesel made from organic and recycled products such as soybean oil, used cooking oils, inedible corn oil, canola, tallow, fats and algae. With biofuel, homeowners can burn a better, safer and more reliable fuel resulting in lower emissions, improved air quality and better efficiency of the heating system. For biofuel blends up to 20%, there are no modifications necessary for your existing home heating equipment.

The environmental benefits of biofuel are significant. First, biodiesel lowers the carbon content of heating oil. Secondly, biodiesel is made from renewable, organic sources. And research conducted by leading authorities such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Air Resource Board indicates that biofuel reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions (sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide) from 50% to 86% compared to traditional heating oil or diesel fuel. Additionally, research conducted by the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) indicates that when ultra-low sulfur heating is blended with biodiesel at 20% (B20), this BIOHEAT fuel significantly reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions making BIOHEAT cleaner than natural gas.

Following extensive testing and research, American Society of Testing & Materials (ASTM), with support from the heating oil industry and the National Biodiesel Board, has set a standards for recommended percentage blends of biodiesel in heating oil. These percentage blend specifications are currently up to B20 (a 20% blend of biofuel). The heating oil industry along with the National Oilheat Research Alliance and the National Biodiesel Board are committed to introducing higher blends of biodiesel into the heating oil marketplace and these organization are conducting ongoing research on higher percentage blends of biodiesel in heating oil.

To learn more about bioheat, visit DiscoverHeatingOilMass.com

To start enjoying the benefits of Biofuel with a 20% Blend, contact us at Lombardi Oil & Gas

Visit Lombardi Oil & Gas, sponsor of the upcoming Greater Newburyport Green Expo on April 11th.

Newburyport Recycling – Simple Tips to Help Save Money for Our City!

By Elizabeth de Veer, Newburyport.com Correspondent
Elizabeth de Veer is a writer who lives in Georgetown, MA. Her hobbies include organizing her elementary school-age daughter and chasing her labradoodle. Favorite coffee: hot. Favorite Beatles album: Sgt. Pepper. Favorite naughty food: lobster roll and fries. Her first novel is due to be published in winter 2019.
Newburyport Recycling

Newburyport Recycling provides an important service that allows community members to actively participate in minimizing our waste and, in turn, reflects how much we value a healthy environment. However, due to shifting policies overseas, the neighborhood recycling rules are changing, and Newburyport Recycling needs citizens to learn the new guidelines. Take a few minutes to become aware, and adjust the way you recycle. When the community supports the recycling process by following the rules, we save the city money that can be invested elsewhere.

Did you know … recycling companies assess carts of materials submitted for recycling? If more than 10% of the materials are considered trash, the city is subject to an additional 10% contamination fine on top of the recycling cost per barrel. That adds up fast!

Curbside recycling carts LOVE: empty bottles, jars, and containers made of metal, plastic and glass from the kitchen, laundry and bath, and paper and flattened cardboard. All of these things must be CLEAN – carefully rinse out food containers, like yogurt cups. Pizza boxes that aren’t too greasy and have no food or liners in them can be recycled.

Curbside recycling says NO THANKS to: recyclables in bags, loose plastic bags and plastic wrap, containers still containing food or liquids, clothing and linens, and “tanglers” – hoses, wires, chains, strings of lights, etc.

Some things can’t go into curbside recycling but can be brought to the Newburyport Recycling Center on Colby Farm Lane on the first Saturday of every month from 8 am to noon. This list includes: metal/aluminum siding, scrap metal, pots & pans, utensils (silverware, cooking utensils) and tools. If in doubt, throw it out!

Try at home:

  • Review this flyer showing what goes into curbside recycling and what does not. If anything on that list surprises you, make a list to post above your kitchen recycling bin, download a reference postcard or pick one up at City Hall.
  • Get the kids involved! Invite them to pitch in by reading the flyer and helping around the house to make sure that recycling not only gets done but gets done right.
  • Talk to your neighbors. The community wins when everybody makes the effort to become more aware of the DOs and DON’Ts.
  • Set up a backyard composting bin for vegetable scraps and garden waste. These can be used to create “compost tea” that can really help your garden. If you don’t know where to start, try this composting guide for beginners. Composting bins are available from the city at a great discount – and Newburyport has a subscription curbside compost program.
  • Sign up for a free home visit! Contact City Hall’s Recycling, Energy, and Sustainability Office at (978) 465-4410 or email TowardZeroWasteNewburyport@outlook.com and a member of the recycling team will come with a short presentation and be able to address all your questions for all members of your household.

Newburyport Recycling has employed a team of cart checkers to review curbside recycling carts and make sure all are complying. Team members will let residents know what they are doing wrong by leaving tags on carts. If a cart has multiple infractions, that cart will not be picked up until it is brought into compliance. For more information, check out this list of hard to dispose items, and recycling program basics.

Let’s become aware, get active, and get busy recycling the right way. Recycling Right benefits the whole community! Make sure to mark your calendar for the Newburyport Green Expo, on April 11th where you can lean many ways that we can all help protect the environment.

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