~Meniscus Archives~

Summer 2004
Issue #4

May - August 2004

Visual Art and Spiritual Evolution
Andy Gmür
Biological evolution has advanced to the point that a 'spiritual evolution' is taking place. This natural process is happening, no matter if we are aware of it or not.

The Dehydration Epidemic
Jaime Larese
Our first step to improving a myriad of health problems is understanding dehydration and how much water we need to be drinking daily to maintain our fragile health.

What's Endangering Our Earth?
Jeff Hernandez
The everyday items that are meant to facilitate our lives, in fact may be harming us more than we bargained for. Organic chemicals are extremely cheap to produce and are very effective in their job functions.

Looking Forward to Clean Energy
Jon Heinrich
Fortunately, solutions exist and if we are able to raise awareness and convince our policy makers to consider it a priority, we can all look forward to a bright, energy-rich future instead of one marked by environmental, political, and social disaster.
Aaron Ades
You don't need to save for a rainy day if you create a system that is in harmony with the needs of the human animal. Create what you need and eliminate the reliance on things you cannot create.
Ten Things You Can Do to Help Your Earth
Chrystie Hopkins
Whether you live in New York City or Big Fork, Montana, everyday decisions that you make can impact the environment. The revolution starts at home. Here are ten things that you can do to help save YOUR world.
Derek Gumuchian
We are all one. In this article we explore the idea of the Earth as an entire entitiy and as our mother.
The Fabulous Sylvan Sisters
Dan Berthiaume
An hour later, Donna was lazily reclining in the passenger seat of Melinda's cherry red Volkswagen New Beetle, consuming a brunch consisting of a can of Diet Pepsi and a low-tar cigarette...
è bella Designs in Peru
Michael Weintrob
Photographer Michael Weintrob travels to Peru with è bella Designs, to capture how è bella has helped to revive the art of weaving and the Peruvuian economy.
Rough Around the Edges
Jonathan Alsop

Technically, first thing in the morning is the very best time to taste wine since your palate is fresh and unviolated. But I don't do it: the sight of daddy in his bathrobe on a Sunday morning slogging down a half-dozen bottles of wine could stay with a child.

Show Review:
Pete Pidgeon & Arcoda—Six Years of friends, funk and crack horns.
Jon Heinrich
Pete Pidgeon & Arcoda celebrate six years as a band by playing at Boston's Harpers Ferry. Opening up for Arcoda was Color and Talea and Caveman. 4/4/04.

CD Reviews:

Empty Food
Kerry Rumore
Fish Pond &
The Little Prince Discovers a Rose
Katie Molnar

Selections by Brian Gagné:

  • [It Fails to Pass]
  • Fever/Lever
  • Grief
  • Smallness annihilated in the scope of puzzlement
  • Untitled A

Spring Issue Launch
Club Europa,
Feb. 19, 2004

State of the Art,
Oct. 23, 2003

Portland, Maine
Aug. 30, 2003

Premier Launch,
Zeitgeist Gallery,
Aug. 14, 2003















Compiled and written from information found at the following sites:



What's Endangering Our Earth?

Jeff Hernandez
Published 5/15/04

On a daily basis, at home, school, or work, we are surrounded and bombarded by toxic contaminants that are a result of modern manufacturing methods. Awareness of their existence, their health risks, and their environmental impact is not only important for our benefit, but also for the sake of our family, environment, and future generations.

Some of the most dangerous contaminants known today are called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints, paint strippers, building materials, wood preservatives, cleaning supplies, degreasers, copiers, printers, correction fluids, carbonless copy paper, glue, adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.

These everyday items that are meant to facilitate our lives, in fact may be harming us more than we bargained for. Ironically, we as consumers are the reason they are produced. Organic chemicals are extremely cheap to produce and are very effective in their job functions.

Volatile Organic Compounds

VOCs are not ingredients themselves, rather, they are gases that are slowly and constantly being released from organic chemicals that are used to manufacture a product. EPA studies indicate that while people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed.

Persistent Organic Pollutants

POPs on the other hand are highly stable organic compounds used as pesticides, disinfectants, and industrial chemicals. POPs are a special problem because they persist in the environment, accumulate in the fatty tissues of most living organisms, and are toxic to humans and wildlife.

Many consumer and commercial products contain POPs as their main ingredient. POPs are also found in household insecticides, degreasers, and moth repellants. POPs are so pervasive, that according to the EPA, nearly every person on earth can be shown to harbor detectable levels of dozens of POPs.

POPs and other variations such as Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) Pollutants pose risks to human health and ecosystems thus making them highly destructive to our planet as a whole.

Disturbing Consequences

Constant exposure to VOCs can cause adverse health conditions such as cough, chest tightness, fever, chills, muscle aches, and allergies. High concentrations of VOCs and POPs have been shown to cause cancer, reproductive problems, birth defects, and even death. The use of products that emit VOCs and POPs is also at least in part responsible for many Building Related Illness (BRI) conditions such as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), and Asthma.

If in fact these products are so harmful for us, why then are they still being manufactured and sold to the public? The truth is that there are currently few regulations on the development or safety testing of these chemicals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only tests prescription drugs and consumable products. The EPA will investigate after sufficient complaints have been reported. Basically, if a chemical warrants an investigation, there have already been many people negatively affected. Interestingly enough, the EPA has listed most VOCs and POPs as Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS). Unfortunately, chemical production continues largely unregulated.

How to Save Our World

The best way to protect ourselves and our planet is to minimize or eliminate our exposure to these substances. Not surprisingly, some of the most toxic are found in everyday "off-the-shelf" products like all-purpose cleaners, oven cleaners, and fabric softeners.

These harmful poisons need to be replaced with non-toxic and environmentally safe counterparts right away. For daily cleaning, baking soda and vinegar are wonderful natural alternatives that do a great job keeping things clean.

If you are currently using a product that has one of the following ingredients, the best thing you can do for everyone's health is to stop using it and throw it out. Harmful VOCs and POPs include: Ammonia, Ammonium Hydroxide, Chlorine bleach, Formaldehyde, Hydrochloric acid, Hydrochloric bleach, Lye, Naphtha, Nitrobenzene, Perchlorethylene, Petroleum Distillates, Phenol, Propylene Glycol, Sodium hypochlorite, Sodium laurel sulfate, Sodium tripolyphosphate, and Trichloroethane.

And, of course, if you're throwing away bottles, before you toss them in with your trash, check to see if there's a community toxic waste program nearby where you can safely dump all your "old" cleaning supplies. The last thing you want is those chemicals seeping into our water supply.
If we all do our part by not purchasing toxic products, we can all make a difference in reducing harmful chemicals from our bodies and our environment.

Jeff Hernandez


Jeff Hernandez is the co-founder of AA Environmentally Safe Cleaning http://www.aaclean.com a Cambridge based cleaning company that specializes in non-toxic cleaning of homes and non-profit organizations. He is an advocate of cutting back on our dependence on chemicals and toxic substances that harm our health and our planet. He can be reached at jeff@aaclean.com.




Meniscus Magazine © 2004. All material is property of respective artists.