A Breakwater Made of Old Tires, Why Nuns Have the Finest Skin, How Fresh Water Is Being Produced From the Sea and More

Learn about the Onges tribe's diet, the "working wounded," what fire ants eat and other short news bits.

| January/February 1979

  • Old Tires
    San Francisco protects pier 39 with a breakwater made from recycled tires. By using recycled materials for the breakwater, the city only had to pay $500,000 for the project (that's one quarter the normal cost of building a breakwater in 1979).

  • Old Tires

NUNS HAVE THE FINEST SKIN, according to the Cosmetic, Toiletries and Fragrance Association (CTFA) . . . a trade group of about 250 manufacturers and 20 testing firms which has lined up some convent sisters to test skin products. What's the nuns' beauty secret? How do they get such youthful skin? "They normally don't use cosmetics," a spokesman explained. 

OUR FRIEND, THE FIRE ANT. Though his bite has been described as "somewhere between that of the yellow jacket and the man-eating shark", the notorious fire ant – it was recently discovered – just loves to eat cotton bollworm eggs, weevil larvae, and even young boll weevil beetles . . . pests that have become immune to most pesticides and which were thought to have no natural enemies. On top of that, fire ants also dote on sugar cane borers, ticks, horn flies, and soybean caterpillars. 

MILLIONS OF POUNDS OF HERBICIDE DRIFT FLOAT DOWN FROM SOUTHEASTERN SKIES, and the Federal environmental officers are worried. These herbicides — 2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5-T — are the same chemicals once used by the U.S. Military to defoliate jungles in Vietnam (until it was discovered they cause birth defects in mice and rats). Now, the same defoliants are sprayed – in huge quantities – on farm crops throughout the southeastern states . . . with virtually no safeguards. Any licensed pilot can spray the chemicals, and no federal or state permits are needed. Says one EPA official, "There's no telling what impact this stuff is having." 

THE "WORKING WOUNDED" is the name HEW Secretary Joseph Califano, Jr. gave to the millions of Americans doomed to die of cancer "wounds" suffered at their place of work. A new government report says that 40% of cancers are probably related to risks on the job. 

FOOD JUST LIKE MOM USED TO TAKE OUT is the latest hot news in "home cooking". One company cashing in on this trend is Atlas Food Systems and Services of Greenville, South Carolina, which already has frozen cheeseburgers and hot dogs on the market, and has recently come out with "Breakfast on a Bun". Other food companies are expected to follow suit. 

ARMADILLOS AGAINST LEPROSY The hopes of 15 million leprosy sufferers are now pinned on a small colony of armadillos in England's West Country. Their low body temperature, which suits the leprosy organism, has enabled researchers to develop the mycobacterium needed for a live vaccine. The humble armadillo has also given the world a skin test for potential leprosy victims that works in much the same way as skin tests for tuberculosis. 


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