Deodar Cedar Natural Insecticide, Culligan Water Watch Hotline and Building Sickness

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ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
If going to work seems to bring you down, you may be suffering from more than just the routine.

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.

Appropriate Contraception

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.

Savory Grasslands

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.