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 By Penny Brookins


Since WWII 80,000 new chemicals have been developed. Over 4 Billion pounds of toxic chemicals are used every year in the U.S., including 72 million pounds recognized as Carcinogens or cancer causing substances. Of the top 20 chemicals nearly 75% are known or suspected to be toxic to the developing brain. From 2001-2011 the cases of Asthma in the U.S. grew 28%. From 1950-2001 the incidents of all types of cancer increased by 85%. According to Rick Irvin, a toxicologist from Teas A & M University, "Chemicals have replaced bacteria and viruses as a main threat to human health..." 


Did you know that your sweet smelling clothes dryer sheets are made with Fiberglass and pack a toxic cocktail of ingredients? They contain the following:

Quarternary Ammonium-linked to respiratory disorders, skin irritant, contributes to antibiotic resistance.

Benzyl Acetate-Linked to pancreatic cancer

Ethanol-On the EPA's Hazardous Waste list. Causes nervous disorders

Ethyl Acetate-also on the EPA's Hazardous list.

Limonene-a carcinogen

A-Terpineol-can cause respiratory problems, fatal edema, and central nervous damage.

Ethyl Acetate-EPA Hazardous list (a narcotic)

Camphor-can cause central nervous disorders.

Chloroform-neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic

Linalool-narcotic. Causes central nervous disorders.

Pentane-harmful if inhaled.


Mister Steamer a non-chemical softener/wrinkle release ball. Or use a damp washcloth with 5 drops of essential oil (I like Lavender) sprinkled on it. Put the cloth in the dryer with your clothes. Replenish the essential oil on the cloth with each load. 


Triclosan-can disrupt the endocrine system, may harm immune system, elicits antibiotic resistance, and is an active ingredient in pesticides. Currently under FDA review.

Quaterenary Ammonium-contributes to antibiotic resistance, irritates the mucous lining, aggravates allergic reactions. Also highly toxic to birds and fish.

Phthalates-can leach from hands into foods and then into your body, disrupts hormonal system, has been found to cause breast cancer in women, and birth defects.

Toluene-used as a blending agent, highly toxic, disrupts homones, can cause cancer, narcotic, also used as a nail polish solvant


This is my favorite recipe from the book series GORGEOUSLY GREEN  by Sophie Uliano. Anyone who knows me knows that I carry a small glass spray bottle of this in my purse.

1 oz. water

1 oz. cheap Vodka (80 proof)

1 tsp. aloe vera gel

1/2 tsp. vegetable glycerin

2 drops each essential oils of cinnamon, clove, rosemary, eucalyptus, 

10 drops each lemon, tea tree essential oils

1. Using a 2 oz. glass or plastic spray bottle, pour the water and Vodka into the bottle, leaving half and inch empty at the top of the bottle. 

2. Add aloe vera gel, glycerin, and essential oils. shake gently.

Makes two ounces. Shelf life is 6 months. I make this in big batches and keep a refill jar in the refrigerator.

NOTE: The essential oils used in this recipe have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.  They also add good-for-you oils to your skin. Essential oils are available at Whole Foods, Sprouts and other health markets. Store your oils in a cool, dark cupboard. 


2-Butoxyethanol-key ingredient that gives cleaner sweet smell, powerful solvent. According to Environmental Protection Agency, can cause narcosis, pulmonary edema, severe liver and kidney damage.

Isopropanal-Extremely flammable, used as a shellac solvent and in anti-freeze.

Ethylene-petroleum product. If inhaled can cause dizziness, nausea, or asphyxia. A harmful


Ammonia-used in petroleum refining, corrosive to skin, eyes and lungs. If inhaled can irritate the lungs, cause asthma, and can be fatal if swallowed.

The average household contains approximately 62 toxic chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic. Although standards are set for use in the workplace, there are no standards set for home use. Used in a confined area, such as a bathroom, you can end up with air quality levels greater than workplace safety standards allow. Eliminating enviromental toxins can improve your health.


16 oz. spray bottle

1 1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup distilled water

8 drops of your choice of essential oil (lemon, lime, grapefruit, wild orange or a combination)

Combine ingredients in your bottle, shake well and you are ready to have clean, sparkly windows.








                Allen's Anecdotes

                               Allen's Headshot            


 Several years ago, I found myself on a glorious summer afternoon in the most interesting town of globe Arizona, ready to inspect a small home for a large investor.  This home was situated right at the base of a rather steep hill of about 100 feet in height.  On the top of the hill, was a house of similar size which barely fit on the hill top. There were no side yards to speak of and if you tossed a rock out of a window, it would bound down the hillside and surely land on the house below...directly onto the house I was to inspect! I remember thinking that I hoped the retaining wall wouldn't fail while I was doing my inspection. 
This is a story about retaining walls. There are two types of retaining walls on a residential property. One is a "decorative" retaining wall, and the other is a "structural" retaining wall.  A decorative retaining wall generally is installed for landscape purposes and usually terraces a property and controls drainage.,  A "structural" retaining wall is one that, if it failed, would affect the "Structural Components that support non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads)...of a structure." Retaining walls are designed not to move. They are built with huge foundations that have lots of concrete and steel in them so they will not move.  Things like "dead heads" (these tie the retaining wall back into the hillside to keep it from moving) and "buttresses" (perpendicular supports to keep the wall from tipping or moving laterally) are often installed at great expense to help keep the masonry retaining wall from moving. Retaining walls are difficult to fix and very expensive to repair or replace.
The first thing I noticed as I approached the property from the street was an eight foot high retaining wall at the base of a very steep 100 foot hill. The masonry retaining wall was attempting to hold back the hillside from collapsing onto the property where the house was that I was inspecting I say attempting because the wall was not very straight. Flying buttresses (perpendicular supports) had been installed every ten feet along the retaining wall in an attempt to stop lateral movement, but the wall was still moving so much that it looked like a snake! The "S" curves measured up to four feet from a straight line ten times along the length of the retaining wall.
When evaluating retaining walls, the inspector must keep in mind that these types of walls are designed not to move. The inspector who sees movement must ask him or herself: "If the wall is moving, what will stop it from moving more?" Any signs of movement, such as cracks in the masonry, deteriorated mortar or grout damage means that further evaluation by a professional engineer with remedy as necessary by a qualified and competent contractor is absolutely necessary. In this case, the retaining wall was so far beyond help, with the flying buttresses installed, and with tons of dirt being held back by the masonry, it was everything I could do to keep from saying: "Tear the wall down and start over!" The retaining wall movement had been on-going for so many years, that there was a fairly large sigh before the words tripped off my tongue and again at the end of the sentence there was another fairly audible sigh.
My fear was that if the retaining wall completely failed, it would result in enough movement in the hillside, that the house on the top of the hill might topple down the hill and land directly on top of the house I was inspecting.  My fears increased when the clock reached 4 PM and at least four mines simultaneously did their dynamite blasting for the day. What sounded like an air raid siren sounded first, and then the ground shook violently. I thought I was experiencing an earth quake...but it was just the daily mine blasting routine that shook the entire town every single day. My customer said: "If the wall hasn't failed by now, it probably never would."
One year later, the same customer asked me to come back to Globe to inspect another house for him. Guess which property he wanted to purchase? You guessed it...the house on the top of the hill! It had a retaining wall of its own on the other side of the home, in a similar condition...


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Wishing you a successful month,

Allen Blaker, ACI

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