Apr 29, 2005

CSPA Responds to Criticism of Lawn and Garden Products

Washington, DC, April 13, 2005 -- Statements about the safety of lawn and garden products made in a news release issued today by two environmental organizations are “inaccurate and exaggerated,” according the Consumer Specialty Products Association.

“Lawn and garden products provide important health and quality of life benefits, and do not pose undue risks when used properly,” said CSPA President Chris Cathcart. “These products are among the most highly regulated on the market today, and consumers can use them with confidence while following label instructions.”

CSPA pointed out that lawn and garden products do more than create a lush lawn and beautiful flowers. They also offer protection from allergies by preventing noxious weeds and limit damage to structures and property by controlling insects. Lawn and garden products also eliminate insects and ticks that can spread diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease. By promoting healthy lawns and ornamental plants, these products also prevent soil erosion and reduce dust that can cause respiratory problems.

Cathcart further said that the environmentalists’ news release was inaccurate in stating that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not evaluate product mixtures which is required under FIFRA. He also said that the release was exaggerated to needlessly influence consumers’ behavior.

“Like all pesticides, lawn and garden products are extensively regulated by the EPA”, said Cathcart. “Manufacturers spend millions of dollars conducting extensive tests prior to submitting data to the EPA.” Before granting a registration, EPA examines the chemistry and toxicity of each product’s active ingredients and the product mixture. The agency also reviews product labels to ensure that they include directions for the proper use and storage of the product.

CSPA said that lawn and garden products are carefully formulated to satisfy specific needs and the criticism of products that kill weeds while fertilizing is unjustified.

Apr 22, 2005

Earth Day is Everyday

Earth Day 2005.

I would personally like to thank all of you for your dedication to helping people and the environment.

You have made a difference in my life and the world around you.

For those of us who believe “Earth Day is Everyday”. Thank you!

Christopher Haase

Environmental, Health and Safety Director

Quick Facts About Earth Day (From About.com)

Earth Day is a great day to spend with your kids and remind them about the environment and how important it is to celebrate Earth Day every day of the year.

Earth Day is always observed on April 22.

Reason We Celebrate Earth Day: To call attention to the environment and the “People Who Protect” it.

History of Earth Day:

  • Former U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson was Earth Day's co-founder.

  • The first Earth Day was in 1970

Observance of Earth Day:

  • Take notice of the planet Earth

  • Take care of the Environment

Sen. Gaylord NelsonSen. Gaylord Nelson

How the First Earth Day Came About

By Senator Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day

What was the purpose of Earth Day? How did it start? These are the questions I am most frequently asked.

Actually, the idea for Earth Day evolved over a period of seven years starting in 1962. For several years, it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country. Finally, in November 1962, an idea occurred to me that was, I thought, a virtual cinch to put the environment into the political "limelight" once and for all. The idea was to persuade President Kennedy to give visibility to this issue by going on a national conservation tour. I flew to Washington to discuss the proposal with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who liked the idea. So did the President. The President began his five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September 1963. For many reasons the tour did not succeed in putting the issue onto the national political agenda. However, it was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day.

I continued to speak on environmental issues to a variety of audiences in some twenty-five states. All across the country, evidence of environmental degradation was appearing everywhere, and everyone noticed except the political establishment. The environmental issue simply was not to be found on the nation's political agenda. The people were concerned, but the politicians were not.

After President Kennedy's tour, I still hoped for some idea that would thrust the environment into the political mainstream. Six years would pass before the idea that became Earth Day occurred to me while on a conservation speaking tour out West in the summer of 1969. At the time, anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, called "teach-ins," had spread to college campuses all across the nation. Suddenly, the idea occurred to me - why not organize a huge grassroots protest over what was happening to our environment?

I was satisfied that if we could tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force this issue onto the political agenda. It was a big gamble, but worth a try.

At a conference in Seattle in September 1969, I announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment and invited everyone to participate. The wire services carried the story from coast to coast. The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air - and they did so with spectacular exuberance. For the next four months, two members of my Senate staff, Linda Billings and John Heritage, managed Earth Day affairs out of my Senate office.

Five months before Earth Day, on Sunday, November 30, 1969, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the astonishing proliferation of environmental events:

"Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation's campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam...a national day of observance of environmental problems...is being planned for next spring...when a nationwide environmental 'teach-in'...coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned...."

It was obvious that we were headed for a spectacular success on Earth Day. It was also obvious that grassroots activities had ballooned beyond the capacity of my U.S. Senate office staff to keep up with the telephone calls, paper work, inquiries, etc. In mid-January, three months before Earth Day, John Gardner, Founder of Common Cause, provided temporary space for a Washington, D.C. headquarters. I staffed the office with college students and selected Denis Hayes as coordinator of activities.

Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.

Apr 20, 2005

The Body Heretic: It Scorns Our Efforts

THE promises are everywhere. Sure, you smoked. But you can erase all those years of abusing your lungs if you just throw away the cigarettes. Eating a lot of junk food? Change your diet, lose even 5 or 10 pounds and rid yourself of those extra risks of heart disease and diabetes. Stay out of the sun - who cares if you spent your youth in a state of bronzed bliss? If you protect yourself now, skin cancer will never get you.

Maybe it should be no surprise that America's popular and commercial cultures promote the idea of an inexhaustible capacity for self-rejuvenation and self-repair. After all, if America as an idea has meant anything, it has meant just that - the possibility of continual transformation - becoming wealthier, more spiritual, more beautiful, happier and feeling younger.

That optimism has helped create a society of unmatched vitality - a source of bewilderment, alarm and envy to the rest of the world. But Americans often forget, or aren't aware, of how unusual they are in this respect, notes Dr. Daniel Haber, director of the cancer center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"I grew up in Europe and I travel in Europe," he said. "And there's an amazing contrast." Europeans are far more fatalistic about their lives, he said. They believe "you need to enjoy life," so they smoke, they bask in a sun, they take pleasure in a leisurely, indulgent meal and they don't feel compelled to go to a gym.

Americans, Dr. Haber says, believe in control - of their bodies, their mental faculties and their futures. So shedding some pounds or some unhealthy habits is not merely sensible. It suggests a new beginning, being born again.

Maybe that is why people may feel betrayed when Peter Jennings explains that he stopped smoking, at least for a while, and still got lung cancer. Or why, two decades after his death, people still talk about Jim Fixx, the running guru who lost weight, stopped smoking, ran every day and dropped dead of a heart attack.

In fact, science is pretty clear on all of this: There are real limits to what can be done to reverse the damage caused by a lifetime of unhealthy living. Other than lung cancer, which is mostly a disease of smokers, there are few diseases that are preventable by changing behavior in midlife.

But that is not what most people think, said Dr. Barnett Kramer, the associate director for disease prevention at the National Institutes of Health. Instead, they believe that if you reform you'll erase the damage, in part because public health messages often give that impression. "It is easy to overestimate based on the strength of the messages," Dr. Kramer said. "But we're not as confident as the messages state."

Eating five servings of vegetables and fruit has not been shown to prevent cancer. Melanoma, the deadly skin cancer, occurs whether or not you go out in the sun. Gobbling calcium pills has not been found to prevent osteoporosis. Switching to a low-fat diet in adulthood does not prevent breast cancer.

At most, Dr. Kramer said, the effect of changing one's diet or lifestyle might amount to "a matter of changing probabilities," slightly improving the odds. But health science is so at odds with the American ethos of self-renewal that it has a hard time being heard. Here, where people believe anything is possible if you really want it, even aging is viewed as a choice.

"It's hard to find an American who doesn't believe that, with enough will, he or she can achieve anything - we've been brought up to believe that," said Dr. Barry Glassner, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California. Health, he emphasized, is no exception: "It's the same whether you're 40, 50 or 80. It doesn't matter whether you are male or female, black or white. "

But in matters of health, the strongest willed person simply cannot wipe the slate of life clean and begin again. This is true even with lung cancer and smoking. Those who quit may greatly reduce their risk of lung cancer. But they cannot eliminate it.

"The best you can be is a former smoker - you can't be a 'never smoker,' " said Dr. Kramer. "It's not all or none. It's a matter of changing probabilities."

In fact, in every area of desired physical self-renewal, the probabilities make it hard to argue that life allows one to start over.

At health clubs, pear-shaped people in their 40's and 50's obsessively lift weights, trying for those defined muscles that, even in youth, come only to those with a certain genetic predisposition. But by middle age, the overweight tend to stay that way, and the body has a harder time increasing muscle mass. So even the greatest personal trainer will not produce rippling abs.

At the cardiologist's office, middle-age men, learning that their arteries are starting to clog, swear they'll never eat chips and hamburgers again, and that they will take up jogging. Some do and a small percentage even stick with it. But no amount of exercise or diet change will make the plaque in their arteries disappear. Despite common public health recommendations, walking for half an hour a day, five days a week probably won't make most people lose weight. And while a regular regimen of walking or running will likely improve your stamina and cardiovascular fitness, there is no guarantee that it will reverse heart disease, prevent or forestall a heart attack or in any way extend your life.

The effects of other measures, like changing lifestyle or switching to a diet rich in raw vegetables, are even less clear when it comes to preventing cancer, said Dr. Kramer. "Even if they do affect the cancer," he said, " it may be that it's over an entire lifetime."

So what are Americans, with their faith in starting over, to do? When it comes to making oneself over, said Dr. Glassner, they have two options. One, he said, "is that you can consider yourself inadequate or inferior" for failing to force the years to melt away. The other is to shift the definition of rejuvenation from a arduous restructuring of the self to a paint job.

"Now, instead of losing the weight you're going to go for cosmetic surgery," Dr. Glassner said.

That is not really an answer. Collagen injections or surgery may give people more youthful looking faces, but only for a while. And liposuction won't help for long if the body restores the fat that was suctioned off the patient's arms or buttocks.

Then there is a third possibility for the resourceful, Dr. Glassner said. An overweight person can simply redefine himself as a "food adventurer."

There is one group, however, for whom a strong sense of control over the future may be an unalloyed good: the sick.

"Protective illusions," says Dr. Shelley Taylor, a psychology professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, can be a good thing. In her research, she found that among people with serious diseases, those who felt they still had control over their lives coped better with their illnesses.

The optimists fared better psychologically even when they became more ill - shattering the illusion of control. "What you often see is people use something like cancer as an opportunity to discover value in their lives, and meaning," Dr. Taylor said. "They reorder their priorities. They focus on relationships more. Control and optimism shift to things that can be dealt with."

For those in good health, there is still another option, though it is decidedly a minority position. This is simply to scale back on one's self-engineering and take more pleasure in simply getting from day to day.

The American essayist Joseph Epstein nicely expressed this view in an essay, written when he hit the age of 60, which he gave the mordant title, "Will You Still Feed Me?" In it, Mr. Epstein expresses the virtue of just enjoying the ride.

"At 60," he writes, "one probably does well not to expect wild changes, at least not for the better. Probably best not even to expect a lot in the way of self-improvement. Not a good idea, I think, at this point to attempt to build the body beautiful. Be happy-immensely happy, in fact-with the body still functional."

Of course, many in midlife will still decide to hit the gym, to eat better, drink less, relax more. And that's a good thing, if only because they will feel better for being fitter. But they shouldn't expect it to erase the effects of all those years that came before.

Apr 14, 2005

MSN's ideas for saving gas

Fuel-Saving Tips

Vehicle Maintenance

by Ann Job

A little advance planning, a less-aggressive driving style and a well-maintained car can help you get the most out of every gallon of fuel.

No matter where you live and what you drive, you can maximize every gallon of fuel. Here's how:

Regular Servicing Is Important Keep your vehicle well maintained with regular servicing to keep it operating at peak efficiency. An inefficient engine—with fouled spark plugs, for example—won't make optimum use of fuel. Be sure the air filter and the fuel filter are clean. Put in new ones if they're not. A new oxygen sensor alone can improve gas mileage by as much as 15 percent, according to AutoZone, a car parts store.

Don't forget little things like the air in your tires. Having tires inflated to the maximum recommended pressure can improve gas mileage by as much as 6 percent, while periodic wheel alignments can help improve fuel economy up to 10 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Clean out that trunk, cargo area or pickup bed. Take out unneeded items that only add weight to your vehicle. Extra weight decreases gas mileage. According to AutoZone, every 200 pounds of unnecessary weight shaves one mile per gallon off your fuel mileage.

Be a Different Driver Change your driving style. Accelerate gradually, drive smoothly and with care and you could see as much as a 20 percent gain in fuel economy compared with what you'd get with an aggressive driving style, the EPA says. Skip those jackrabbit starts and sudden pedal-to-the-metal maneuvers if you want to save gas. Anticipate stops so you avoid sudden braking, and take a long view of the road ahead, coasting safely to an intersection in front of you where you see traffic stopped.

Don't speed. A car or truck moving at 55 miles an hour can get about 15 percent better fuel economy than the same car going 65 mph. Use your vehicle's navigation system, if you have one, in your travels to new locales. This can save you from getting lost and wasting gas.

Drive Smart Don't be idle too long. Don't waste fuel by sitting in that drive-thru lane at McDonald's or Taco Bell. Park and go inside instead. Don't let your vehicle idle as you wait outside the elementary school to pick up your children. Idling uses more fuel than turning the engine off, waiting for your youngsters and then restarting the engine.

When you're in slow city traffic, keep the air conditioner off, if possible. Roll down the windows and open the air vents to keep you and your riders comfortable. That air conditioner is a burden that uses fuel, and if you're tooling around town, you can see a "very slight" improvement in gas mileage by keeping it turned off, a Mercedes-Benz spokesman said.

Plan Ahead Combine your errands into one trip, rather than taking multiple trips from home. Organize your stops so they're near each other and so you don't retrace your path. You may even be able to park in one central spot and walk between some of your stops rather than driving and parking at each one. For large gatherings like family reunions and church picnics, organize a carpool. If the distance to these events is long, Budget Rent a Car Corp. suggests even renting a 15-person van to maximize fuel savings vs. driving a number of separate vehicles in these circumstances.

Plan your trips so you go out during less-congested times of day. When there's less traffic, you're more apt to be able to drive smoothly. Use navigation aids on the Internet or in your vehicle to keep from getting lost—and thus wasting fuel—when you're headed to a new, unknown location.

Weather Effects Note that road and weather conditions have a role, too, in the fuel economy of your vehicle. Driving into a 20-mph headwind can reduce fuel economy by as much as 6 percent. Driving up a mountain road with a 7 percent grade can cut fuel economy by as much as 25 percent. Driving on gravel and in slush and snow requires a bit more fuel, too.

Other Modes of Transport Look at alternative transportation options—even if it's just for one or two days a week. Walk, bicycle, carpool or take public transportation and leave your vehicle at home. The League of American Bicyclists, based in Washington D.C., notes that cycling to work not only saves on gas, it is an excellent cardiovascular workout. And in some cases, the league says, commuters actually arrive at their destination quicker on a bicycle than they would via congested auto roadways.

When you shop for a new vehicle, compare fuel economy. Bear in mind how bigger vehicles, bigger engines, four-wheel drive and lots of optional equipment can add to a vehicle's weight and, as a result, reduce its fuel efficiency. Even larger tires can have an effect. A tire with a larger "footprint" on the road that doesn't have a special rubber compound designed to improve fuel economy has more rolling resistance than a comparable smaller tire, and this can lower fuel economy.

You don't always have to avoid popular vehicles in order to save money at the gas pump. Some smaller trucks and sport-utility vehicles rank better in fuel economy than do some cars. For example, the Ford Ranger 2WD with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and manual transmission is the "most efficient standard pickup truck," according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It gets an estimated 24 miles a gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, the EPA says, for a combined rating of 26 mpg. This is better than the combined fuel economy rating of 25 mpg for the Chrysler Sebring with automatic transmission.

Watch for New, High-Tech Solutions Check out the newest automotive technology. It's getting more mainstream with each passing year.

In spring 2002, Honda began selling its second gas-electric hybrid car in the U.S. The Civic Hybrid is rated at 48 miles a gallon in combined city/highway fuel economy by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It joins the Insight, the first gas-electric hybrid car available in the United States, and Toyota Prius hybrid car, whose U.S. sales started in the 2001 model year, as very fuel-thrifty vehicles.

In fact, all three vehicles are in the top ten on the EPA's list of fuel-efficient vehicles for the 2005 model year. The manual-tranmission Insight is rated at 60 mpg in the city and 66 mpg on the highway. A two-seater, this hatchback has a small three-cylinder gasoline engine mated to an electric motor that never needs to be plugged in. The Civic Hybrid, with a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder gas engine and electric motor, achieves 45 mpg in the city and 51 mpg at highway speeds, for a combined fuel economy rating of 47 mpg.

The four-door, five-passenger Prius uses a similar hybrid gas-electric combination, but the internal combustion engine is a 1.5-liter four cylinder. The Prius is rated at 60 mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway.

Ford Motor Co. introduced the first gas-electric hybrid sport-utility vehicle—the Escape Hybrid—in calendar 2004, and other automakers have hybrid vehicle plans in the works, too.

New technology efforts don't end there. Virtually all automakers are researching ways to build a commercially viable fuel-cell vehicle.

Even if you don't decide on a new-technology vehicle, you should carefully consider whether you really need a V6 or a V8 in your next car or truck. The National Automobile Dealers Association advises consumers to test drive models with various engines in a range of driving conditions to determine what fits them best, and to assess the tradeoffs.

Other Costs Affected Keep in mind you might pay a bit more for that next new car. Higher fuel prices in recent years have prompted many automakers to boost the price of delivering vehicles to dealerships. You see these higher trucking charges on the window sticker, on the "destination and delivery" line.

An Eye to the Future Think about how your fuel conservation efforts benefit the Earth and future generations.

Scientists say global warming and its projected disastrous effects on weather, rising sea levels and heat deaths are due, in part, to the burning of fossil fuels.

So, every gallon of gas you don't use can help ease global warming.