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What's your EnviroQ? Answer Page


The "What's your EnviroQ?" feature highlights important environmental issues and helpful information that everyone can use. We hope the EnviroQ will stimulate users' interest and curiosity about a variety of topics and make it fun to learn about environmental protection.

Use this page to check your answers or read more of the EnviroQs.




How many USA lung cancer deaths each year are due to radon?

a. 200
b. 2000
c. 20000
d. 200000

The answer is c.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and has been identified as a leading cause of lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking in the United States. EPA's most recent health risk assessment estimates that 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year are due to radon. You can't see or smell radon because it is a colorless, odorless gas. The only way to know whether radon exists in elevated levels in your home, and to protect your family from radon, is to TEST! Who can test or fix your home? | USA map of radon zones




How many tons of road salt are used each year in the United States?

a. 500 thousand
b. 2 million
c. 11 million
d. 97 million

The answer is c.

More than 11 million tons of salt are applied to roads in the Unites States annually. As ice and snow melt, or rain falls, the salt is washed into the surrounding soil. Salt also enters ground water from improperly protected storage stockpiles. Road salt application and storage




Mercury should be carefully cleaned up and disposed of when you

a. visit the innermost planet
b. break a thermometer
c. transmute lead into gold
d. deliver messages quickly

The answer is b.

When liquid mercury (also known as elemental or metallic mercury) is spilled, it forms droplets that can accumulate in the tiniest of spaces and then emit vapors into the air. Mercury vapor in the air is odorless, colorless, and very toxic! Most mercury exposures occur by breathing vapors, by direct skin contact or by eating food or drinking water contaminated with mercury. Any amount spilled or leaked must be treated with extreme caution and cleaned up or removed immediately and very carefully so as not to spread any contamination. What should I do if I have a mercury spill? | Basic information about Mercury | FOR KIDS! What you need to know about Mercury!




In case of oil or chemical spill, who you gonna call?

a. the neighbors
b. the marines
c. the national response center
d. the garbage collector

The answer is c.

To report an oil or chemical spill, call 1-800-424-8802. An environmental emergency is a sudden threat to the public health, or the well-being of the environment, from the release or potential release of oil, radioactive materials, or hazardous chemicals. Environmental emergencies may happen from transportation accidents, events at chemical or other facilities using or manufacturing chemicals, or as a result of natural or man-made disasters. They can be large spills in the ocean or small spills along a neighborhood street. While there are many serious environmental problems EPA is concerned with, an emergency response generally focuses on a sudden, immediate threat. More about environmental emergencies




Photovoltaic panels create electricity from what source?

a. wind power
b. hybrid fuel
c. sunlight
d. water power

The answer is c.

Solar power is produced using solar cells, also known as photovoltaics. Photovoltaic cells turn sunlight ("photo") energy into electricity ("voltaic"). Like batteries, solar cells generate direct current (DC) which is then converted to alternating current (AC). Solar cells can be used to generate electricity on-site at facilities, and they are often mounted on rooftops. More about green power




Which U.S. state has the most acres of wetlands?

a. Minnesota
b. Louisiana
c. Florida
d. Alaska

The answer is d.

In the 1980s, an estimated 170-200 million acres of wetland existed in Alaska - covering slightly more than half of the state. Next to Alaska, Florida (11 million), Louisiana (8.8 million), Minnesota (8.7 million), and Texas (7.6 million) have the largest wetland acreage. In the 1600s, over 220 million acres of wetlands are thought to have existed in the lower 48 states. Since then, extensive losses have occurred and over half of our original wetlands have been drained and converted to other uses. More information about wetlands status and trends.




Who organized the first Earth Day?

a. John F. Kennedy
b. Gaylord Nelson
c. Rachel Carson
d. Al Gore

The answer is b.

Gaylord Nelson (1916-2005), Wisconsin governor and U.S. Senator, is considered to be the father of the first Earth Day (held on April 22, 1970). In 1995, Senator Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts to inspire Americans about the importance and urgency of environmental protection. Senator Nelson's biography | More about Earth Day




What percent of U.S. waste materials is potential compost?

a. 11 percent
b. 23 percent
c. 47 percent
d. 72 percent

The answer is b.

Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 23 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That's a lot of waste to send to landfills when it could become useful and environmentally beneficial compost instead! Composting offers the obvious benefits of resource efficiency and creating a useful product from organic waste that would otherwise have been landfilled. Create your own compost pile | Composting programs where you live




What's not safe to throw out in your trash?

a. vacuum cleaner bags
b. domestic particulate waste
c. yard waste and cuttings
d. household hazardous waste

The answer is d.

Products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides, that contain potentially hazardous ingredients require special care when you dispose of them. The dangers of such disposal methods might not be immediately obvious, but improper disposal of these wastes can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health. Read more about how to dispose of household hazardous waste correctly.




What type of trash takes up the most space in US landfills?

a. plastic
b. metal
c. paper
d. yard waste

The answer is c.

The trash most commonly found in municipal landfills is plain old paper—on average, it accounts for more than 40 percent of a landfill's contents. Newspapers, which can be recycled, can take up as much as 13 percent of the space in US landfills and deteriorates very slowly in a landfill. Research has shown that, when excavated from a landfill, newspapers from the 1960s can be intact and readable. More information.




How do children become lead poisoned?

a. Put their hands or other objects covered with lead dust in their mouths.
b. Consume paint chips or soil that contains lead.
c. Breathe in lead dust (especially during removal of old paint).
d. All of the above

The answer is d.

Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly. Basic facts about lead.




The Great Lakes contain what percent of the world freshwater supply?

a. 5
b. 10
c. 20
d. 100

The answer is c.

The five Great Lakes - Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior - are the largest surface freshwater source on the Earth. They contain more than 90 percent of the U.S.'s freshwater supply and more than 20 percent of the world's. These vast, inland seas provide water for consumption, transportation, power, recreation, and a host of other uses. Despite their considerable size, the Great Lakes are sensitive to the effects of a wide range of pollutants. The Great Lakes Interagency Task Force was created in 2004 to provide strategic direction on Great Lakes policy, priorities, and programs. Learn more...




Transportation consumes about what percent of the total energy used in the United States?

a. 10 percent
b. 25 percent
c. 33 percent
d. 50 percent

The answer is b.

Transportation consumes about 25 percent of the total energy used in the United States. Driving can release harmful chemicals or other pollutants into the air. When, where, how, why and what you drive all play an important role in affecting air pollution. Drive wise and be more environmentally friendly when you need to get somewhere.




EPA Green Power Partnership

Select your state

and click GO.

How clean is the electricity I use?

a. jolting
b. stunning
c. shocking
d. it depends

The answer is d.

In the United States, electricity is generated in many different ways, with wide variations in environmental impact. Traditional methods of electricity production contribute to air quality problems and the risk of global climate change. With the advent of electric customer choice, many electricity customers can now choose the source of their electricity. Use the Green Power Locator | More on EPA's 100 percent green power purchase




How did old New York City subway cars land in the Atlantic Ocean?

a. The "F" line ends on Coney Island
b. To create calamity movie scene
c. Put there to create artificial reefs
d. Free car wash

The answer is c.

Old New York City subway cars were put into the Atlantic Ocean to act as artificial reefs. Reefs provide a home for fish and other ocean wildlife. Dives by the EPA Mid-Atlantic region dive team have confirmed that the cars are intact, well covered by growth, and surrounded by fish. Artificial reefs are especially important in the often flat-bottomed mid-Atlantic area, and provide important habitat for fish and other ocean creatures. More about artificial reefs.




How many people celebrated the first Earth Day?

a. 500000
b. 1.2 million
c. 20 million
d. 100 million

The answer is c.

Twenty million people celebrated the first Earth Day. EPA was born in 1970 - a time when rivers caught fire and cities were hidden under dense clouds of smoke. We've made remarkable progress since then in protecting human health and safeguarding the natural environment. In 1996, the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list, reflecting its recovery since the 1972 DDT ban. In 1972, only 36 percent of the nation's assessed stream miles were safe for uses such as fishing and swimming: today, about 60 percent are safe for such uses. More history of Earth Day




Erik Estrada as 'Ponch'Oil from one oil change can contaminate a million gallons of fresh water.

Public service message MP3
en espaƱol MP3
Transcripts and more info

Used oil from one oil change can contaminate how much fresh water?

a. none
b. 100 gallons
c. 10,000 gallons
d. 1 million gallons

The answer is d.

Used oil from one oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of fresh water - a year's supply for 50 people! Safe recycling of your used motor oil is easy to do:

  • Do not spill any oil on the ground.
  • Put your used motor oil in a clean plastic container with a tight lid. Never store used oil in a container that once held chemicals, food, or beverages.
  • Do not mix the oil with anything else, such as antifreeze, solvent, or paint.
  • Take used motor oil to a service station or other location that collects used motor oil for recycling.

More information: Call 1-800-CLEAN UP. Safely disposing of used oil | Help for business - Automotive Recyclers Exit EPA Disclaimer
Public service message by actor Erik Estrada




Shade trees around your house can reduce your air conditioner bill by up to how much?

a. 10 percent
b. 25 percent
c. 50 percent
d. 75 percent

The answer is d.

Plants can significantly reduce a building's energy needs since it's cooler in the shade of trees and warmer behind plants that block the winter winds. The Department of Energy predicts that proper placement of as few as three shade trees will save an average household $100-$250 in energy costs each year. And a Pennsylvania study found that air conditioning needs could be reduced by up to 75 percent by shading a house with trees! Using plants to reduce heating and cooling needs | Buying a room air conditioner




Find a green vehicle


Go to the
Green Vehicle Guide

Choosing the most fuel-efficient vehicle saves you how much over the vehicle life?

a. 50
b. 200
c. 900
d. 1500

The answer is d.

Here's a way to save money while helping the environment and reducing our reliance on imported oil: buy a vehicle with higher fuel economy. Choosing a vehicle that gets 25 rather than 20 miles to the gallon will prevent 10 tons of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of your vehicle. Choosing the most fuel-efficient vehicle in a class could save you more than $1,500 in costs and prevent over 15 tons of greenhouse gas pollution over the lifetime of your vehicle. More information | Green vehicle guide | Find a green used car




How many school days each year do children in the US miss due to asthma-related illness?

a. 1/2 million
b. 1 million
c. 14 million
d. 33 million

The answer is c.

Nearly one in 13 school-aged children has asthma, and the percentage of children with asthma is rising more rapidly in preschool-aged children than in any other age group. Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to a chronic illness, accounting for over 14 million missed school days per year. Read more about managing asthma in the school environment.




Wetlands provide:

a. natural water filtration
b. habitat for commercial fisheries
c. protection against flooding
d. all of the above

The answer is d.

We celebrate wetlands each May when they are teeming with new animal and plant life. Wetlands are valuable because they replenish and clean water supplies and reduce flood risks. In addition, wetlands provide recreational opportunities and aesthetic benefits. They serve as sites for research and education and benefit commercial fishing. May is Wetlands Month! | More information about wetlands




How can scrap tires help save the environment?

a. better education
b. make lots of swings
c. drive fewer miles
d. burn them for fuel

The answer is d.

In 2003, 130 million scrap tires were used as fuel, up from 25.9 million in 1991. Tires can be used as fuel either in shredded form - known as tire derived fuel (TDF) - or whole, depending on the type of combustion device. Scrap tires are typically used as a supplement to traditional fuels such as coal or wood. There are several advantages to using tires as fuel. For example, tires produce the same amount of energy as oil and 25 percent more energy than coal. More about tire-derived fuel.




Before you use a pesticide you should

a. wash your hands
b. wrap it in plastic
c. sweep the floor
d. read the label

The answer is d.

Many pesticides may pose some risk to humans, animals, or the environment, simply because they are designed to kill or somehow harm pests. At the same time, pesticides are useful because they control disease-causing insects, weeds, or other pests. Literally, "the label is the law" and it's your guide to using pesticides safely and effectively. The label contains pertinent information that you should read and understand before you use any pesticide product. Read the label first | FOR KIDS: What is a pesticide?




What's one way you can fight mosquitos?

a. Use tiny swords and shields
b. Install a protective force-field
c. Empty standing pools of water
d. Move to a cold climate

The answer is c.

While moving to a cold climate is a possibility, it's an extreme one at best. However, a serious consequence of some mosquito bites may be transmission of certain serious diseases such as malaria, West Nile fever, and several forms of encephalitis. Not only can mosquitoes carry human diseases, they also can carry several diseases and parasites of dogs and horses. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to reduce risks from mosquitos, for example:

  • Empty standing water in old tires, cemetery urns, buckets, plastic covers, toys, or any other container where "wrigglers" and "tumblers" live.
  • Use mosquito repellents when necessary and follow label directions and precautions closely.

More on mosquito control | Insect Repellent Use and Safety (from the Center for Disease Control)




Urban areas can be how much warmer than surrounding rural areas?

a. no, colder
b. about the same
c. 2-10 F warmer
d. 15 F warmer

The answer is c.

For millions living in cities, "heat islands" are a growing concern. A heat island occurs when urban and suburban areas are 2 to 10 degrees F (1 to 6c. warmer than nearby rural areas. Even a few degrees can be a significant change. Heat island temperatures impact communities by increasing peak energy demands, air conditioning costs, air pollution levels, and heat-related health effects and illness. Read more about heat islands




What ratio of Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime?

a. One in five
b. One in ten
c. One in a hundred
d. One in a thousand

The answer is a.

Currently, one in five Americans develops skin cancer during their lifetime. More than one million people are diagnosed with this disease each year, making it the most widespread form of cancer in the US. But it is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer; limiting sun exposure can help avoid skin health problems. The sun emits ultraviolet radiation, which can be damaging to all forms of life. Learning about sun protection and skin cancer is a painless way to safeguard you and your family’s health. Skin cancer facts




Why did they electrify a waterway near the Great Lakes?

a. monitor ship traffic
b. prevent harbor freezing
c. block invasive species
d. stop vegetation growth

The answer is c.

An "invasive species" is a plant or animal that is non-native (or alien) to an ecosystem, and whose introduction is likely to cause economic, human health, or environmental damage in that ecosystem. Once established, it is extremely difficult to control their spread. An electrical fish barrier was used as a demonstration project in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to study the effectiveness of preventing species migration between the River and the Lake. The electrodes pulse DC current into the water, causing fish will turn back rather than pass through the electric current. The electric current poses no threat to people. About the electric barrier




When should you be most concerned about sun exposure?

a. During a solar eclipse
b. Early morning
c. Middle of the day
d. Riding in a convertible

The answer is c.

Whether you're riding in a convertible or working outdoors, the middle of the day, about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is when the sun is most intense and you should be most concerned about exposure to the sun. You should try to apply sunscreen whenever you’re in the sun, but more often during midday. The sun beams down ultraviolet (UV) rays that can lead to serious health effects, such as skin cancer, cataracts, and immune suppression. Read more about protecting yourself and your family.




AQI means:

a. Aquatic Quinine Indicators
b. A Quince Inside
c. Air Quality Index
d. Apres Quarantine Insights

The answer is c.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a brief, easy-to-read report of daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and which associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. The AQI reports on five major air pollutants, including ground-level ozone, particle pollution (extremely fine dust, also known as "particulate matter"), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health. About the AQI | Information for health care providers




If your skin burns in ten minutes, what SPF sunblock should you use to be outside for 5 hours?

a. SPF 4
b. SPF 15
c. SPF 30
d. Just stay inside

The answer is c.

Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, is a multiple of how much time you can stay in the sun without burning your skin. If your skin burns in ten minutes, and you use SPF 30, you should be able to stay in the sun for 300 minutes (5 hours) without burning (length of time for your skin to redden x SPF = length of time you're protected. . The higher the SPF value, the greater the protection. It is recommended that you apply several times a day, especially if you sweat or are in the water. Sunscreen lotion with SPF prevents the absorption of UV-B rays from the sun. Overexposure to the sun not only causes sunburn, but can also cause eye damage premature wrinkling, skin cancer, and damage to your immune system. Sun Safety Action Steps | Sunwise for Kids




Only you can prevent what fires?

a. local
b. urban
c. wild
d. small

The answer is c.

Only you can prevent wildfires is the motto of Smokey Bear. A wildfire raging out of control can devastate large areas of forest habitat, waste valuable timber resources, and endanger communities where people live and work. Forest managers now use carefully-controlled "prescribed fires" to reduce the accumulated forest vegetation that can fuel a dangerous wildfire. This allows native plants and animals thrive in a diverse and healthy forest environment. Safety tips for preventing wildfires. Exit EPA Disclaimer




Water-efficient fixtures can save about how much water per home annually?

a. 1,500 gallons
b. 9,300 gallons
c. 54,000 gallons
d. 99,000 gallons

The answer is c.

Residential demands account for about three-fourths of the total urban water demand. Indoor use accounts for roughly 60 percent of all residential use. Low-flow plumbing fixtures and retrofit programs are permanent, one-time conservation measures that add little or no additional cost over their life. The City of Corpus Christi, for example, has estimated that an average three-member household can reduce its water use by 54,000 gallons annually and can lower water bills by about $60 per year if water-efficient plumbing fixtures are used. More about home water efficiency




What's the leading cause of water quality problems in the U.S. today?

a. factories
b. nonpoint sources
c. water treatment
d. toxic waste sites

The answer is b.

Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt "runoff" moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even our underground sources of drinking water. States report that nonpoint source pollution is the leading remaining cause of water quality problems. What you can do to prevent nonpoint source pollution (anywhere you live).




If instructed to boil water, you should boil it for:

a. 30 seconds
b. 1 minute
c. 10 minutes
d. 30 minutes

The answer is b.

EPA and the Centers for Disease Control issued a joint policy statement that bringing water to a rolling boil for 1 minute will kill all known waterborne pathogens, including Giardia and Crypto sporidium. Note: If you live at high altitudes (above 6,000 feet), you should boil water for 3 minutes because water boils at a lower temperature at high elevations. More on emergency disinfection of drinking water.




A "red tide" is

a. marching lobsters
b. paprika oil spills
c. single-cell plants
d. toxic pollution runoff

The answer is c.

A "red tide" or "harmful algal bloom" is natural event caused by rapid growth of microscopic, single-celled algae that makes the ocean looks red or brown, especially in summertime, and especially when rains wash more nutrients into rivers and the sea. Most kinds of algae are harmless plants but some types produce a natural toxin that can contaminate shellfish that eat the algae. Animals or humans who eat the contaminated shellfish can be poisoned. Local fishing areas are usually closed during major red tides to prevent harvest and sales of contaminated shellfish. Local fish advisories tell you when to avoid buying or eating shellfish. Fish advisories where you live | About harmful algal blooms (from CDC)




Which creates more pollution, the average car or the average home?

a. average car
b. average home
c. about the same
d. neither

The answer is c.

The average home creates more pollution than the average car. One inexpensive and energy- efficient way you can cut your home-related pollution is to replace old light bulbs and fixtures with EnergyStar-qualified lighting. Changing just five conventional bulbs to energy-efficient bulbs can save an estimated $60 per year. That's a $6 billion energy savings for Americans and an energy savings equivalent to the annual output of more than 21 power plants. And if every American household did this, together we'd keep more than one trillion pounds of greenhouse gas out of our air. Learn more...




Which is the largest estuary in the country?

a. Long Island Sound
b. Barataria-Terrebonne
c. Chesapeake Bay
d. Puget Sound

The answer is c.

At about 200 miles long and as much as 35 miles wide, the Chesapeake Bay is the largest of 130 estuaries in the United States. The bay's watershed includes parts of six states and supports more than 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals. The Chesapeake is a commercial and recreational resource for the more than 15 million people who live in its basin. More about estuaries




What's the number one trash item found on beaches?

a. cigarette filters
b. plastic bottles
c. seaweed
d. food bags

The answer is a.

From 1996 to 2000, international marine debris collectors found over 6 million cigarette filters on beaches, followed by over 3 million food bags. Where do all the cigarette filters come from? Much of the blame must be placed on careless beachgoers, but they are not the only source. Smokers who flick cigarette filters out of a car window, stamp cigarettes out on a sidewalk, or dump out their car ashtrays in a parking lot contribute to the marine debris problem. Cigarette filters can wash or blow down storm drains that lead into our local waterways and eventually, the ocean. What you can do to reduce marine debris.




What percent of U.S. morning traffic consists of students being driven to school?

a. 5
b. 10
c. 20
d. 35

The answer is c.

Based on national studies, 20 percent of weekday morning traffic in the US is students being driven to school. These trips can cause increased traffic congestion around schools, which can prompt even more parents to drive their kids to school. In addition, short motor trips contribute significant amounts of air pollution because they typically occur while an engine's pollution control system is cold and less effective. Safe walking routes for school kids help alleviate traffic congestion and related pollution. More on healthy communities and healthy kids




What would you find on a site about "el medio ambiente"?

a. ambient French music
b. environmental information in Spanish
c. German-Spanish dictionary
d. singing with gusto in Italian

The answer is b.

Le invitamos a encontrar información útil en español y ocasionalmente en inglés referente a la protección de la salud humana y nuestros recursos naturales---nuestra agua, nuestro aire y nuestra tierra. Más información
[Translation: We invite you to find useful information in Spanish and occasionally in English about protecting human health and our natural resources--our water, our air, our land.More information]




What is the most environmentally friendly way to get rid of garbage?

a. recycling
b. composting
c. use less stuff
d. landfilling

The answer is c.

Source reduction is a basic solution to the garbage glut: using less material means less waste at the end. Because source reduction actually prevents the generation of waste in the first place, it comes before other options that deal with trash after it already exists. Recycling (or re-using) and composting are the next best options because they reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and also let materials be re-claimed and used again when possible. Landfilling is the last option, when waste and materials are simply discarded. Tips for reducing waste at home.




How many lightbulbs does it take to save $10 billion?

a. one
b. one in each home
c. 25 million
d. 10 billion

The answer is b.

Nearly 20 percent of our home's electricity use goes to lighting. Choosing energy-efficient lighting is an easy way to start using energy wisely. Switch out a single light bulb or fixture in your home to a light that's earned the government's ENERGY STAR for energy efficiency. Most electricity in the United States is generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal or oil, which release greenhouse gases into our air. So, when you use less energy, you help prevent global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Take the pledge to save energy.




What percent of all poisonings in the U.S. involve a child under age six?

a. 10 percent
b. 25 percent
c. 50 percent
d. 75 percent

The answer is c.

Lock household pesticides and chemicals in a high cabinet away from food. Every 15 seconds U.S. poison centers receive a call about someone being exposed to a poison, and 40 percent of those cases involve a child under three years old. According to the National Safety Council, over half of the more than two million poisoning incidents each year involve children under six. Prevent poisoning in your home | 10 tips to protect children




A typical light bulb wastes what percent of electricity?

a. 5 percent
b. 30 percent
c. 65 percent
d. 90 percent

The answer is d.

The typical incandescent light bulb turns only about 10 percent of its electricity into light. A typical light bulb, when on, is hot. That's because 90 percent of the energy is wasted as heat, which means it isn't very energy-efficient. EnergyStar-qualified lighting, such as compact fluorescent bulbs, uses two-thirds less energy and generates 70 percent less heat than an equivalent incandescent light bulb. More about energy efficient lighting.




Why do some traffic signals look like dots?

a. a hallucination
b. to frighten birds
c. a cluster of tiny lights
d. recycled fish scales

The answer is c.

The dots you see in many traffic signals are LEDs - dozens of tiny Light Emitting Diodes clustered together to create one large traffic signal. LEDs are used because a LED light consumes 90 percent less electricity than conventional light bulbs and therefore save energy and money. And because LEDs can last 10 years or longer, they also save on maintenance costs. Inside an LED (from Arizona State University)Exit EPA Disclaimer




About what size are "PM 2.5" airborne pollution particles?

a. 1/3 the size of a chickpea
b. 1/30 the size of a human hair
c. 1/300 the size of a starfish
d. 1/3000 the size of an coconut-laden swallow

The answer is b.

PM 2.5, or "fine particles," refers to particles less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers in size -- approximately 1/30th the width of a human hair. These particles can penetrate into the lungs and have been associated with a number of serious health problems such as asthma, bronchitis, heart problems, and even premature death. More about particle pollution | Particle pollution report




Recycling aluminum cans saves how much energy, compared to making new aluminum?

a. 35 percent
b. 55 percent
c. 75 percent
d. 95 percent

The answer is d.

Recycling aluminum cans saves 95 percent of the energy required to make the same amount of aluminum from raw aluminum ore, bauxite. For other recycled products, the amount of energy saved differs by material, but almost all recycling processes achieve significant energy savings compared to production using virgin materials. Harvesting, extracting, and processing the raw materials used to manufacture new products is an energy-intensive activity. Reducing or nearly eliminating the need for these processes, therefore, achieves huge savings in energy. More about recycling | About aluminum




The average U.S. home can accumulate how many pounds of hazardous waste in one year?

a. 10 pounds
b. 50 pounds
c. 100 pounds
d. 500 pounds

The answer is c.

The average home can accumulate as much as 100 pounds of household hazardous waste in the basement or garage and in storage closets in one year. When improperly disposed of, household hazardous waste can create a potential risk to people and the environment. Because of the potential risks associated with household hazardous wastes, it is important that people always use, store, and dispose of materials containing hazardous substances safely:

  • Use and store products containing hazardous substances carefully to prevent any accidents at home. Never store hazardous or toxic liquids or materials in a food container. Keep products containing hazardous materials in their original containers and never remove the labels. Corroding containers, however, should be repackaged and clearly labeled. This will prevent accidental ingestion and also can help protect sanitation workers.
  • When leftovers remain, never mix household hazardous waste with any other product. Incompatible things may react, become more dangerous, ignite, or explode; contaminated household hazardous waste may become unrecyclable.
  • Follow any safety instructions for disposal and use provided on the label.
  • Take household hazardous waste to a local collection program, if available.

More information about household waste.




About how much can you save each year by installing a programmable thermostat?

a. 15
b. 40
c. 75
d. 100

The answer is d.

One great way to save energy and money in winter is to install a programmable thermostat. When installed and used with the four pre-programmed temperature settings for weekend and weekdays, you can save about $100 each year while staying comfortable. Before leaving for vacation, turn down your thermostat (to "hold" a lower setting) so that you don't waste money and fuel by fully heating an empty house. Due to the potential fuel savings, your programmable thermostat will likely pay for itself in its first year. More tips for weathering the winter

A common misconception associated with thermostats is that a furnace works harder than normal to warm the space back to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back, resulting in little or no savings. This misconception has been dispelled by years of research and numerous studies. The fuel required to reheat a building to a comfortable temperature is roughly equal to the fuel saved as the building drops to the lower temperature. You save fuel between the time that the temperature stabilizes at the lower level and the next time heat is needed. So, the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save. More on thermostats and control systems (the US Department of Energy)




EPA was originally created by which US president?

a. John F. Kennedy
b. Lyndon Johnson
c. Richard Nixon
d. Jimmy Carter

The answer is c.

President Nixon created the US EPA on December 2, 1970. In his message to Congress earlier that year about the plan to create EPA, President Nixon wrote, "As concern with the condition of our physical environment has intensified, it has become increasingly clear that we need to know more about the total environment--land, water, and air. It also has become increasingly clear that only by reorganizing our Federal efforts can we develop that knowledge, and effectively ensure the protection, development and enhancement of the total environment itself." Read more about EPA's early years




What percent of batteries are sold during the holidays?

a. 25
b. 40
c. 55
d. 70

The answer is b.

About 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Give rechargeable batteries along with your electronic gifts, and consider giving a battery charger, too. Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown away, and can save money in the long run. Recycling batteries | More tips to reduce holiday waste




Household waste in the U.S. generally increases by how much over the holidays?

a. 50 thousand tons
b. 100 thousand tons
c. 1 million tons
d. 10 million tons

The answer is c.

Over the holiday season, consumers flock to malls, department stores, and outlets in search of gift, cards, trees, and more. But as we enjoy the holidays, we also consume lots of resources and generate lots of waste. A recent report noted that the amount of household garbage in the United States generally increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, from 4 million tons to 5 million tons. Ideas you can use to reduce holiday waste




Cruise ships generate a large volume of waste due to

a. exotic destinations
b. spicy food served
c. numbers of passengers
d. multiple time zones

The answer is c.

Large cruise ships provide overnight accommodations for 3,000 or more passengers for multiple days. In contrast to similarly-sized cargo ships, cruise ships generate a substantially larger volume of wastewater due to the higher number of passengers and crew, and more waste from activities or services such as restaurants, dry-cleaning, photo processing, salons and spas, shopping and recreation, medical services, and others.

However, vessels are responsible for proper trash disposal. It is illegal to dump plastic refuse, and garbage mixed with plastic, into any waters; and dumping non-plastic trash and other forms of garbage is restricted. The law applies to all U.S. vessels wherever they operate (except in waters under exclusive jurisdiction of a U.S. state) and to foreign vessels operating in U.S. waters. With 3,000 or more passengers, cruise ships have potential to cause a large environmental impact if they do not dispose of waste properly. Report suspected illegal dumping to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 or the Coast Guard at 1-800-368-5647. More about about cruise ship discharges | Cruise ship consumer fact sheet (Coast Guard)




What percentage of US homes have a septic system?

a. 5 percent
b. 15 percent
c. 25 percent
d. 45 percent

The answer is c.

Septic systems are being used in 25 percent of all U.S. homes. Poorly managed systems have been named as a concern by nearly every federal and state program that deals with water resource issues. According to various reports and studies, an estimated 10-20 percent of septic systems fail each year. Septic systems that are properly designed and managed can provide effective treatment and protection of health and water resources. Ten simple steps to keep your septic system working properly.







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