Liz Crenshaw's Guide to Consumer Issues, Recalls and More

Ask Liz: Tap Water, Battery Disposal & Buying Firewood

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ask Liz: 10-31-08

    What are some tips to avoid getting burned when buying firewood? The National Institute of Standards and Technology says:

    • Most wood is sold in a measurement called a cord, so it is important to know how large one cord of wood really is.
    • A cord measures 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long or 128 cubic feet.
    • According to Saunders Landscape Supply in Chantilly, Va., the going price for a cord of wood is about $250 before delivery fees and taxes.
    • By federal standard, wood can ONLY be sold by the cord or by fractions of a cord.
    • But there's an exception for wood sold in packaged form -- like what you'd see at a supermarket.
    • Always get a receipt when buying firewood so that your transaction is in writing.

    What's the proper way to dispose of household batteries? We checked with two battery companies -- Duracell and Energizer -- and the Fairfax County Solid Waste Management Program for this answer.

    • Duracell and Energizer say alkaline batteries -- like AAs and AAAs -- no longer contain mercury, which means they are environmentally safe and you can throw these out in your household trash.
    • Fairfax County says alkaline batteries are the ONLY type that can be safely disposed in the trash.
    • Batteries used in electronics like laptops and cameras should either be taken to a recycling center or a hazardous waste facility… however, this depends on factors such as if the battery is rechargeable. Click here for more information.

    Is day-old tap water safe to drink? The American Water Works Association says:

    • In most cases, the water will remain safe to drink the next day. Airborne contaminants like bacteria shouldn't pose much risk after only one day.
    • If you receive your water from a community water system, most providers add a disinfectant to keep the water safe as it travels to your tap.This disinfectant goes away over time, so the longer the water sits out, the lower the level of protection.
    • However, the bottom line is that water sitting out for a day doesn't pose a large health risk, it just may not taste as good as fresh water out of the tap.

    Got a question for Ask Liz? Email askliz@nbcwashington.com or connect with the Consumer Unit on Facebook and Twitter!