News briefs on the Deodar Cedar natural insecticide, Culligan water watch hotline and getting building sickness at your workplace.
The Deodar Cedar Natural Insecticide
The existence of a natural insecticide with a fragrance pleasant enough to recommend it as a perfume has been reported by researchers in India. The Deodar Cedar natural insecticide repellent is an oil obtained from the deodar cedar tree ( Cedrus deodara ), a native of the Himalayas, which is planted in the warmer parts of the U.S. as an ornamental. The oil of this tree has long been used in India to discourage clothes moths and beetles, but the researchers found that a mere 1% concentration was just as effective against mosquitoes.
BT: The Hazards of Success
Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) has proved to be a relatively safe, versatile, and effective biological insecticide which can all but replace chemical controls in many applications. But recent research indicates that if we continue to use BT as indiscriminately as we have chemical controls, we'll be faced with many of the same old problems—including insect resistance. William McGaughey, an entomologist for the U.S. Grain Marketing Research Laboratory in Manhattan, Kansas, has found that insects can develop high rates of resistance to BT in less than a year. The insects McGaughey experimented with developed as much resistance to the biological insecticide as they might have been expected to develop when exposed to chemical insecticides, but whereas it might have taken 30 or 40 generations for chemically treated bugs to acquire that degree of resistance, the biologically treated bugs did it in 15. So far, resistant populations have been found only in grain stores, where BT is more stable and persistent. But McGaughey believes a similar resistance could begin to develop outdoors with increased use of the biological pesticide.
Breast-feeding could be more important than modern contraceptives in influencing population growth in many developing countries, according to Cornell University scientist Michael C. Latham, who is involved in a study of infant feeding practices in Kenya and Indonesia. Because frequent and intensive breast-feeding can delay fertility in new mothers, women who don't breast-feed can give birth to twice as many children in a given time span as those who do. Latham's research indicates that an important factor in Kenya's rate of population growth, which is currently the highest in the world, may be that the majority of Kenyan women regularly start bottle-feeding their children two or three months after birth. Latham noted that breastfeeding could be promoted as part of a total contraceptive program in those countries that have been resistant to modern contraceptives. Mothers in such nations might be persuaded to breast-feed their children regularly if they understood the immediate health and economic benefits of nursing, the researcher believes.
A Culligan WaterWatch Hotline
Culligan International Company, a major manufacturer of water-conditioning devices, has announced the installation of a "WaterWatch" hotline designed to field consumer questions about water quality. The WaterWatch specially trained operators are prepared to answer your queries concerning your home water sources for cooking, bathing, and drinking.
Consumers calling the toll-free number, staffed from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Central Standard Time, not only will have their questions answered, but will also receive a free brochure, "What You Should Know About the Water You Drink."
Work and Building Sickness
If going to work seems to bring you down, you may be suffering from more than just the routine. Doctors have, in recent years, identified an ailment they call building sickness, with symptoms including inflamed nasal passages, sniffles, dry throat, headache, and lethargy. The syndrome is common enough to be recognized in many countries as an important cause of lagging productivity. Now a survey published by the British Medical Journal indicates that workers in artificially vented spaces are twice as likely to complain of building sickness as those in naturally ventilated areas. Nasal inflammation was five times more common in people working in air-conditioned and humidified offices than it was in those working in naturally ventilated ones; stopped-up noses and dry throats were complained of three times as often; and lethargy and headaches were twice as common. The authors of the report have not been able to identify a specific cause—levels of carbon monoxide, ozone, formaldehyde, air velocity, and humidity did not differ significantly in the closed and open environments—but the remedy seems simple enough: Open a window.
Wildlife biologist Allan Savory's controversial range management plan for the arid Southwest—based on his contention that grass needs grazing (see MOTHER EARTH NEWS N0. 91, page 138)—is beginning to sound a little more conventional these days. A Syracuse University researcher has made field observations in the Serengeti Plain of Northwest Africa that tend to support the notion that the grazing of herds of wild animals promotes the development of healthy grasses. After measuring the height, mass, and growth characteristics of plants growing on the plains, he found that nibbled grasses were actually thicker and hardier. Savory, a native of Zimbabwe, asserts that the grasslands of the American plains can be properly maintained only by simulating the grazing habits of the herds of bison and antelope that once roamed this continent. Many had criticized what they considered to be Allan's unscientific approach to range management—but current research seems to be confirming at least a few of his claims.