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Underground Condos, Second Hand Smoke Dangers, and Other News Items

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PHOTO: FOTOLIA/KRISTIN LINCOLN
Second hand smoke dangers include a higher risk of lung cancer, according to a 15 year Japanese study.

UNDERGROUND CONDOS: The first
underground condominiums–266 windowless residences
buried beneath 8 inches of reinforced concrete and 3 1/2
feet of earth–have gone on the market in La Verkin,
Utah. The survival condos range in price from $39,000 to
$78,000. The dwellings “extra” features include a
four-year supply of dried food per home, air and water
filtration systems, water storage facilities, and emergency
generators.

SECOND HAND SMOKE DANGERS: A
15-year Japanese study has concluded that the spouses of
heavy smokers (defined as people who smoke a pack a day)
are more than twice as likely to develop lung cancer–even
though they themselves do not use tobacco–as are nonsmoking
partners of nonsmokers.

FAIR WARNING In 1950, the U.S.
population used 30 billion gallons of ground water daily.
Now the figure has increased to 100 billion gallons a day
…. Last fall–for the first time ever–690,000
residents of Tidewater Virginia were subject to water
rationing because the region had received only half of its
average rainfall …. It requires an estimated 50,000
pounds of water to produce one pound of beef …. The
Tennessee Valley Authority termed the prospects for
bringing its reservoirs to full capacity this summer
“extremely poor” unless there is a dramatic change in the
weather patterns that have prevailed since June of 1980.

... AND THEN SOME!
Arable farm soil in the U.S. is currently being paved over
at the rate of one-half square mile per hour …. About 225
million acres of American land–making up an area
roughly the size of the original 13 colonies–are
undergoing severe desertification …. Nearly 4.2 million
acres of wheat, cotton, and summer fallow lands were
damaged during the 1980-81 wind season (to put it
graphically, two bushels of farm soil are blown or washed
away for every bushel of corn grown in Iowa) …. Between
five and seven million hectares of agricultural land
worldwide are being completely lost to production, through
soil deterioration, every year.

EAT YOUR FIREWOOD: Scientists say that
products of the “shmoo tree” (named after Al Capp’s
amorphous cartoon characters) can be used as cocktail
snacks, fertilizer, timber for building, coffee
substitutes, flour surrogates, candy, and cattle forage.
The fast-growing relative of the mimosa–it’s commonly
called the leucaena, leadtree, or jumbie bean–will flourish
on marginal land, as well!

HOPE FOR HERPES: A protein found in
pokeweed–a plant that grows wild throughout the
southeastern U.S.–may be a cure for herpes. Texas
researchers report that the plant extract inhibits the
growth of herpes viruses, yet is not toxic to surrounding
cell tissue.

EARTHSHAKING FACTS: The number of
significant earthquakes–that is, those that
registered 6.5 or above on the Richter Scale–increased to
71 during 1980 (1979’s total was 56). Of the 11 quakes that
occurred in the U.S. during that spell, seven hit
California.

THE RADIOACTIVE FLUSH: The Nuclear
Regulatory Commission has proposed new standards that would
permit a wide variety of garbage containing “small” amounts
of radioactive material to be burned, placed in landfills
or dumps, flushed down toilets, or–in the case of
metals–sold as scrap!

RARE EARTH: MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ staffers have discovered
the ultimate wish book: Rare Earth Report, a publication
featuring exotic real estate properties around the world … some of which cost less than $20,000! One-year,
six-issue subscriptions are available–at
$36–from Rare Earth Report.

AS SAFE AS MOTHER’S MILK:
PCB’s–extremely stable, carcinogenic
chemicals–have been found in every sample of breast
milk taken from 1,000 nursing mothers in Michigan. Health
officials say that the amounts ranged from a trace to 5
parts per million, with the average being 1.5 PPM.
Ironically, if cow’s milk contained a level of PCB’s as
high as 1.5 PPM, it could not be sold!

Secretary of the Interior James Watt has stopped all
further expenditures to acquire land to protect the
APPALACHIAN TRAIL,
bringing to a halt negotiations that would have provided
critical links in the wilderness path way …. Experts now
believe that hyperkinesis–a disruptive behavior
disorder once believed to be largely confined to
children–probably afflicts about ONE IN EVERY 20
ADULTS
…. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recorded ten HOT TUB DROWNINGS in
1979, and attributed the deaths to excessively high water
temperatures. Three of the accidents were linked with
alcohol consumption …. Although all of the rivers in the
Brazilian state of Sao Paulo have been declared
biologically dead, the nation’s president has postponed the
enforcement of a law BANNING THE USE OF
NONBIODEGRADABLE DETERGENTS
for two years …. A
Pasadena, Texas landowner and state wildlife officials are
locking horns over the fate of a pond on the Lone Star
Stater’s property that is alleged to contain some
WHITE AMUR, A FISH PROHIBITED IN TEXAS .
Biologists want to destroy the pond’s inhabitants because
they fear that flood waters could carry the grass carp’s
roe to a body of moving water, where the eggs could hatch
…. SNAIL DARTERS HAVE BEEN FOUND 80
miles from the controversial Tellico Dam in Tennessee, an
area thought to be the darters’ only natural habitat.
Biologists are questioning whether the fish have migrated
from the Tellico site or always lived at the “new” spot.

Published on Jul 1, 1981