Coastal Zone Management Act, Specialty Produce Foragers and In-Car Pollution

This short series of reports includes news on the Coastal Zone Management Act, specialty produce growers/foragers and in-car pollution.

| May/June 1987

  • Ocean and pollution
    Nearly 3.5 trillion gallons of sewage are dumped into marine waters each year.

  • Ocean and pollution

This short series of reports includes news on Coastal Zone Management Act, frozen strawberries, methane digesters, specialty produce growers/foragers, a fast food guide and in-car pollution. 

Coastal Zone Management Act, Specialty Produce Foragers and In-Car Pollution

The Coast Isn't Clear

Demographers predict that by 1990 three-quarters of the U.S. population will live within 50 miles of a coast—Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf or Great Lakes. Yet coastal waters are already heavily burdened, says a report in Environmental Action magazine (bimonthly, $20; 1525 New Hampshire Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20036). Nearly 3.5 trillion gallons of sewage are dumped into marine waters each year. Industrial wastes contribute a substantial share of pollution—industries in Maryland alone dump more than 2,763 tons of heavy metals into the Chesapeake Bay annually. Adding to the problem are offshore oil and gas drilling, coastal erosion caused by construction and the dumping of materials dredged from rivers and harbors. The sum total could spell crisis—but at least some positive forces are at work. Among them is the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), passed in 1972 to provide federal funds to states that develop effective coastal management programs. For more information on coastal issues and CZMA, write the Coastal Alliance, Washington, DC.

Really Frozen Strawberries

In search of a fail-safe method for preserving superior strains of food plants, scientists at the USDA's National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Oregon, are freezing strawberry shoot tips in liquid nitrogen and will be storing them at minus 325 degrees Fahrenheit for as much as 100 years. In what has been called "the world's longest experiment," some of the shoot tips will be removed from deep freeze after five, 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100 years and (the researchers hope) grown into whole plants. The results of preliminary tests spanning shorter periods are encouraging: 90% of frozen-then-thawed shoots grew into normal, full-size specimens. If perfected, the technology could be used to keep back-up stocks of botanical material on hand, which could then be called upon to replace strains that might be wiped out by disease or disaster in the future.

Methane Digesters

Scientists working near hydrocarbon seeps 150 miles off the Louisiana coast have discovered deep-sea mussels that eat—and derive their nourishment from—methane. Bacteria inside the creature's gills convert the natural gas to proteins and other life-sustaining organic compounds. Researchers say that the mussels are the first living organisms known to have a taste for methaneand add that the mussels themselves taste "sweet and delicious."

In-Car Pollution

A researcher studying commuter autos on the Los Angeles freeway during rush hour has found levels of toxic pollutants inside cars three to five times higher than daily levels outside. Samuel Witz of the South Coast Air Quality Management District discovered heightened concentrations of benzene, toluene, lead, nickel, chromium and manganese in automobiles traveling the freeway during peak periods. He ascribes part of the problem to deposits, both on the pavement and on tires, stirred up by heavy traffic and sucked in through auto ventilation systems. Concentrations were particularly high in air-conditioned cars driven with the windows up.

Texas Goes Local

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, a well-known consumer advocate and author of Eat Your Heart Out, has launched a state-wide program designed to encourage Lone Star farmers, food processors and consumers to keep their business at home. Over 300 Texas food companies and four dozen retail chains now use the program's "Taste of Texas" logo to identify their products. "For every additional 1% of the national food-processing market Texas captures," Hightower said recently, "the state's economy gains an additional $3 billion in retail sales . . . and 90,000 new jobs. For every dollar in retail sales by a Taste of Texas company, 36 cents goes to the Texas farmer. That's 11 cents more than the national average and can easily mean the difference between a producer shutting down and staying in business,.

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