Reduce, Recharge, Recycle

Measuring with digital multimeter of rechargeable battery

A multi meter is used to test battery life.

Batteries charge our world and power the devices that make our lives convenient. In an effort to reduce the amount of waste we generate, here are some simple tips for household battery use.

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Ditch the Disposables

Calling all campers! Beckoning all BBQers! Tempting all tailgaters! Summer is approaching, and we know you’ll be fueling up your portable stoves and barbeques to grill up the juiciest hot dogs and roast the perfect veggies. That means it’s time to go reusable with 1lb. propane cylinders.


Campers power their portable stove with a refillable 1lb. cylinder.


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San Mateo County Wins Exciting Awards

Elizabeth Rouan and her award.

Elizabeth Rouan and her award.

San Mateo County attended a statewide conference in early November and came back with two awards we are very proud to share!

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Environmental Health Tips

ehtipsIn honor of tomorrow (October 5) being “National Do Something Nice Day,” Environmental Health Services (EHS) is relaying answers to some of its most frequently asked questions from the public and businesses.

From food inspections to hazardous waste dumping and everything in between, read on for useful tips that may come in handy in the future.

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Environmental Health Helps Clear Invasive Species at San Bruno Mountain

Environmental Health Services staff helping out at San Bruno Mountain.

Environmental Health Services staff helping out at San Bruno Mountain.

On a foggy San Mateo County day, 35 Environmental Health Services employees volunteered to help remove invasive plants on the Bog Trail near Colma Creek at San Bruno Mountain State and County Park.

Staff spent two hours working with the San Mateo County Parks Department to remove invasive species like Cape Ivy, Radish and Poison Hemlock from taking over local native plant habitats covering over a quarter acre.

We thoroughly enjoyed being outside despite the dreary weather.

Check out some of our photos below:

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Are Pests Bugging You?

Use less-toxic pest control methods to help you get rid of or prevent unwanted pests.

Use less-toxic pest control methods to help you get rid of or prevent unwanted pests.

Unwanted pests can create health risks for people. Cockroaches and rodents can cause allergies and asthma in children. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a less-toxic pest control method that reduces and prevents pest safely by denying them what they need to infest: shelter, food and water. These creepy uninvited pests need notice-you’re in charge and they’re not welcome! Here’s what you can do:

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What is the big deal about the elephant seal?

Elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park.

Elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park by K. Cooke.

By Kathryn Cooke, Pollution Prevention Specialist, San Mateo County Environmental Health

I first became fascinated with elephant seals during an ecology class in college. The class required students to spend the entire semester researching and then writing a big report on one topic. With most of the more interesting topics gone by the time the list reached me, I took a gamble and committed myself to researching an unknown animal to me: the elephant seal. When I look back, I remember thinking, how exciting can this animal really be?

As I started diving into the research and interviewing the scientists who studied them, my interest for the species quickly grew. When I finally took the guided tour at Año Nuevo State Park in San Mateo County my passion and fascination for them became apparent as my paper slowly came together.

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Environmental Health Services: Who are we and what we accomplished in 2015

ehlogoEnvironmental Health Services is a division within San Mateo County Health System that ensures the restaurants you frequent are safe, the hotels your family and friends stay at are pest free, and residents and businesses that live or operate in this County are properly disposing of hazardous waste. Our Division is also responsible for protecting water by making sure septic tanks and groundwater are managed properly, graywater is used safely, and so much more! There are approximately 70 of us working on a variety of programs, including our amazing administrative staff.

Now that you know a little more about us, we want to tell you about some of our major accomplishments in 2015. Continue reading

Graywater Do’s and Don’ts

A potential silver lining to California’s lack of rain clouds may be that many Californians are rethinking their relationship with water. Many people are looking for methods to conserve water and use water more efficiently. One method that has gained popularity is using graywater for irrigation.

While different definitions of graywater exist, the California Plumbing Code includes wastewater from bathtubs, showers, bathroom sinks, clothes washing machines, and laundry tubs as being sources of graywater. Wastewater from toilets, utility sinks, kitchen sinks, or dishwashers is considered blackwater and cannot be used for graywater systems. Just as there are many definitions of what water sources constitute graywater, there are different ways graywater can be utilized for beneficial uses like outdoor landscape irrigation water.

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Rain barrels and HOAs

Rain barrels capture rain water from a roof to be used in the flower garden.

Rain barrels capture rain water from a roof to be used in the flower garden.

By Cynthia Knowles, Pollution Prevention Specialist, San Mateo County Environmental Health

The critical drought saga continues and creativity in water conversation measures is our new reality. The rain barrel is an excellent means to capturing precious rain water before it reaches the street, dragging cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, and car oil down the storm drain and directly into the ocean and the bay. A rain barrel is an easy way to take advantage of scarce rain water for decorative garden plants! And the San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program (SMCWPPP), in partnership with the Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) and participating member agencies, are offering rebates of up to $100 per rain barrel! Continue reading