California Condors, Grasshopper Control and the Dangers of Decaffeinated Coffee

This short series of reports includes news on California condors laying eggs, a new microbial grasshopper control and information on the process used and the dangers of decaffeinated coffee.

| July/August 1982

  • Decaffeinated coffee dangers
    The federal government is conducting carcinogen tests on methylene chloride, a chlorinated hydrocarbon commonly employed to remove caffeine from coffee beans.

  • Decaffeinated coffee dangers

News briefs on California condors laying eggs, a new grasshopper control method and the dangers of decaffeinated coffee. 

California Condors, Grasshopper Control and the Dangers of Decaffeinated Coffee

THE JOYS OF PARENTING? The female half of a pair of rare California condors—which accidentally lost their first egg of the season when it rolled over the edge of the birds' nest as they were squabbling over who would enjoy the privilege of sitting on it—has laid another one, causing glee among biologists. The couple is believed to be the same one that fledged a chick in 1980 (they squabbled over feeding the youngster back then!).

OL' MAN RIVER: A New Orleans college student—outraged by the amount of carcinogenic material being dumped into the Mississippi River—has begun bottling the suspect liquid for sale in French Quarter gift shops. The vials carry a guarantee that their contents can "remove paint, kill weeds, and cultivate tumors". (The claims aren't all that outlandish, either . . . considering that the New Orleans municipal water supply contains at least 250 questionable elements, including arsenic, cyanide, and mercury salts.)

BOMBS AWAY: U.S. Department of Agriculture officials have enlisted the aid of a radio-controlled model airplane flying club for a "pilot" project which involves spreading a virus-laden spray over cabbage looper-infested fields near Columbia, Missouri. By using the mini-aircraft to create isolated "hot spots" of the virus, researchers can gauge the rate of growth and effectiveness of the natural pest deterrent.

LOG TREATMENT BAN IMMINENT? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations that would restrict the use of wood preservatives-such as creosote, inorganic arsenic compounds, and pentachlorophenol (PCP)which have been shown to pose health risks to humans. These substances have been used in the past to treat the lumber contained in many log home kits, and the agency suggests that owners of houses constructed from such packages recoat interior PCP-treated surfaces with a sealer such as polyurethane, to minimize vaporization from the toxic chemical.

THIS WON'T HURT A BIT: Immunocastration—a nonsurgical method of castrating male animals which consists of injecting them with anti-LHRH (a pituitary gland suppressant)—has been shown to be effective in sheep, cattle, chickens, and other animals intended for slaughter, according to the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center. Scientists are not yet sure whether the drug will work on long-lived companion animals, such as horses, which will likely require periodic booster shots. The potential side effects of the treatment include hardening of the arteries and eventual immunity to the injections.

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