Q I use a vacuum cleaner to kill and remove spiders and other bugs in my house. Now, I'm told that this doesn't kill them and they can just crawl out again. Is that true?

A Spiders and other insects are not automatically killed when sucked up by a vacuum, and it's possible for them to crawl out if left alone, according to the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

When removing insects and spiders with a vacuum, it's best to throw away the bag or contents. If you want to use the bag again, you could freeze it. Place the bag in a garbage bag and place it in the freezer or outdoors in freezing weather for a couple days.

Holiday greenery

Q Isn't it illegal to dispose of brush such as Christmas trees and greens in the garbage? I've seen garbage trucks from two different companies throwing trees in the back of their trucks, presumably with the rest of the garbage.

A No, it's not illegal, said Kathy Moger, of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. But most metro communities have a collection program that should handle trees and brush, she said. To find out if your community has such a program, go to www.greenguardian.com.

Dust Buster warning

Q I recently purchased a Black and Decker Dust Buster and was surprised to see this warning in the instruction manual: "This product contains chemicals, including lead, known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling." Is it common for this type of product to contain lead and other hazardous chemicals?

A Yes, it's a common warning on a variety of electrical products. California law requires manufacturers to warn consumers if they can be exposed to certain chemical substances while using their product.

Black & Decker's products are made from many materials necessary to the proper functioning of the product, explained Jerry Carter, a customer service representative with Black & Decker. Many electrical cords, for example, are made from a rubberlike material called polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and that PVC often contains lead. The lead enables the cord to withstand heat and remain flexible.

To comply with California law, the warning must be included in the product's instruction manual. Because of nationwide distribution, the warning is on products sold in Minnesota.

More on Spice Islands

Several readers contacted Fixit to say they buy Spice Island spices at their local market, including Jerry's Foods in Edina and Cub stores. So, although the manufacturer says the brand isn't widely distributed here, you might just find the spices at your local market.

Send your questions to Fixit in care of the Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488, or call 612-673-9033, or e-mail fixit@startribune.com. Past columns are available at www.startribune.com/fixit.