Vol. 8, No. 5

Less Spooky, More Safe

October’s spookiness can be a joy to celebrate. Of course, there’s the high holiday of spookiness on October 31, along with the dimming light, falling leaves, and passing storms that can all bring a sense of delight to the season.

There are many ways to celebrate fall like corn mazes, pumpkin patches, harvest festivals, or simply enjoying the cooler weather with a pumpkin-spiced beverage in hand.

Lengthening darkness means outdoor activities will require more effort to be seen. Make sure bikes are visible and that evening walks include reflective clothing. Prepare carefully for winter weather hiking and know how to hike after dark either because you intentionally chose that timeframe or just got caught after sunset! Less daylight doesn’t have to mean less physical activity. Start a weekend walking group, delight in the windiness of our local beaches, and get your hands dirty in the garden this fall!

Flame Retardants and Emerging Chemicals of Concern

There are a lot of spooky things in plastics, flame retardants, and other products that are commonly found inside of our homes. There are new products coming out on the market all of the time and it can feel overwhelming to know what products are safer for our kids, pets, and community. None of us want to feel spooked about what’s inside our homes and there are simple daily practices that can keep our homes less spooky and more safe.

  • Read labels! Choose safer products anytime you’re purchasing something new.
  • Wash all plastic dishware by hand and don’t use it in the microwave.
  • Vacuum weekly.
  • Damp dust weekly.
  • Take outside shoes off at the door.

Keeping your home free of clutter, dust, and mold as much as possible will go a long way towards keeping your family safer. Regular cleaning reduces the amount of harmful materials that can create allergies and long-term health effects. Bringing fresh air into your home by opening windows daily for at least a few minutes and using kitchen and bathroom fans whenever you cook and bathe will help reduce mold and the need for stronger-cleaning products.

Soil Testing

Fall is a great time to get your soil tested. As the saying goes, “If you’re not testing, you’re guessing.” As lawn care season winds down, this is a great time to test the soil and make a plan for next year’s nutrient needs.

The Basic Soil Test from Thurston Conservation District provides great information from a local authority. Test results include information on the main nutrient needs: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, as well as the main micronutrients, and will tell you how much organic matter is in the soil. This information can guide your fertilizer choices and let you know if adding compost to the soil to add organic matter is needed for a healthier lawn.

In addition, a soil test can help determine the amount of fertilizer your lawn needs. Adding the correct amount of fertilizer to your lawn saves you money and prevents extra fertilizer from washing away into nearby streams, lakes, and Puget sound.

The Thurston Conservation District can guide you through the soil sampling process and help you choose which test is best for your situation. 

Plant Specific Soil Testing

Looking to plant some berries or fruit trees this fall or next spring? Concerned about your perennial herb garden that isn’t thriving? Success in the garden starts with healthy soil! Fall is a great time to get your soil tested. Whether you are planning to add an orchard or just want to grow some tomatoes and basil next summer, a Comprehensive Soil Test can help you make the most efficient fertilizer additions.

The comprehensive soil test provides the same information as the basic test outlined above with more information on the micronutrients needed like zinc and the level of soluble salts in the soil that lets you know how available many of the nutrients are to your plants.

Thurston Conservation District can help you decide which test is best for your situation.

Q: My kids are dressing up for Halloween and want to use face paint as part of their outfit. Is face paint safe? 

A: Face paint is a popular alternative to bulky masks, that can make it difficult for children to see, especially in the dark, but face paint has safety issues of its own. Face paints may contain ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction, like rashes, itching, or swelling. FDA testing of face paint samples found that some face paints contain lead, in addition to other heavy metals like nickel, cobalt, and chromium, all of which can cause skin allergies and may have long-term health effects. These heavy metals will not be listed on the label.

Face paint with packaging that claims to be “nontoxic,” “gentle,” or “hypoallergenic” may still contain known skin allergens that could cause a reaction, so always be sure to test the product on your child’s forearm a few days before applying the paint to their face.

Tips to make Halloween dress-up safe and fun and not scary:

  • Make your own face paint with safer ingredients, such as cornstarch, cold cream, washable paint, or natural food coloring.
  • Avoid applying face paint near children’s eyes and mouth.
  • Avoid talc-based and aerosol products. These can be breathed deeply into lungs.
  • Find a great hat or wig to wear instead of using colored hairsprays.
  • Choose “fragrance-free” products – always check the ingredient label. 
  • Be wary of red colored lipsticks, these often contain lead.
  • Wash all makeup off before going to bed.

Remember, it’s not only on Halloween that we should think about the safety of what we put on our skin. Personal care products that we use every day, including makeup, may contain harmful ingredients. Check out this guide and the Environmental Working Group for more information. 

Medication Storage and Disposal: It Makes a Difference!

This article was written by guest author Kateri Wimsett, Health Education and Outreach Specialist for Thurston County Public Health and Social Services.

Many of us have medications stored in medicine cabinets, bedside tables, and even handbags that are expired or no longer needed. A great way to make sure those medications don’t end up in the wrong hands is to safely dispose of them. When you dispose of unwanted medications at a drop box, you help protect our community and keep medications out of our local waterways.

Thankfully, safe disposal is free and convenient. There are numerous locations in Thurston County where you can take unwanted medications for free, safe disposal. Many of these are located at pharmacies including all of the local Rite Aid and Safeway stores. You can find a location near you at www.thurstonmedicationtakeback.org.

For medication still in use, plan for safe storage. Safe storage of medications is essential. Securely storing your medication protects your loved ones (including pets) from misuse and poisonings. Consider these basic tips for medication storage:

  • Keep medicine out of reach.
  • Store medications in their original containers with caps on.
  • Avoid storing medicine in your bathroom, kitchen, purse, or other visible places.
  • Store in a locked location like a cabinet or drawer. If that isn’t convenient, consider using a lock box or bag.
  • Pay attention to how the medicine is being used. Know how many pills you have.

Want to learn more? Check out this article

Connect to Farmers

Olympia Farmers Market

High Season: Thursday-Sunday,

April 1-October 29, 2023

Holiday Season: Saturdays & Sundays, November 4-December 17, 2023

Winter Season: Saturdays,

January 6-March 30, 2024

10:00am - 3:00pm

700 Capitol Way N

Olympia, WA 98501

(360) 352-9096


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