Hybrid Hazel Trees, Dietary Guidelines and Cod-Fearing Fish

article image
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/MADY70
Folks in the upper U.S. and Canada can take part in an ongoing project to help develop high-yield hybrid hazel trees and bushes suited for North America.

This short series of reports includes news on hybrid hazel trees, a spice better than BHT, cod-fearing fish, dietary guidelines for the heart, parks and pesticides, radon reports and fuel cell progress.

Bits & Pieces: Hybrid Hazel Trees, Dietary Guidelines and Cod-Fearing Fish

Clean Means Money

Thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in profits are
generated each year by the pollution abatement and control
industry (known in economic circles as PABCO). Expenditures
for PABCO reached $70 billion in 1985, according to a study
by Management Information Services, Inc. Though most of the
money was spent by public agencies, says the study, private
investments totaled $8.5 billion–which alone
generated over 167,000 jobs and produced $2.6 billion in
corporate profits. The report observed that PABCO has
injected new life into “mature industries presently
suffering from stagnant sales and foreign competition.”
PABCO-related activities, for instance, have created over
3,000 jobs in iron and steel manufacturing.

Hybrid Hazel Trees

Folks in the upper U.S. and Canada can take part in an
ongoing project to help develop high-yield hybrid hazel trees and
bushes suited for North America. The Northern Nut Growers
Association is offering packets of special hybrid hazel
seed nuts (eight per packet, $4) to anyone interested in
participating in the program. The hardy hybrid hazel trees are
fast-growing bushes that reach a maximum size of about 20
feet high by 10 feet wide, and start producing edible
kernels in four to five years. If you’re interested also in
joining the Northern Nut Growers Association, a one-year
membership is $15, and entitles you to purchase the hazel
seed packets for $3 each. Write to the Northern Nut Growers
Association, Delphi, IN.

Beats BHT

Researchers at Rutgers University have formulated a natural
preservative from the spice rosemary that is “equal to or
better than BHT.” Spices, of course, have been used as food
preservatives for centuries, but the distinctive flavors of
the spices involved have always limited their applications.
The Rutgers scientists, however, have extracted the
food-keeping antioxidants present in rosemary and distilled
away the smell and taste. Within the food industry, BHT is
considered the best synthetic preservative, but it is
possible that the new rosemary derivative may someday
replace it.

Eat Hearty

The American Heart Association’s latest dietary guidelines
for maintaining a healthy heart are designed to promote
optimum well-being without imposing unrealistic mealtime
restrictions. The guidelines: 1) Limit alcohol consumption
to 15% of total caloric intake, and to no more than
1.7 ounces ethanol per day; 2) restrict protein
(particularly meat protein) to 15% of total calories;
3) limit total fat intake to 30% of total calories,
with no more than 10% saturated fat; 4) keep
cholesterol consumption down to 100 milligrams per 1,000
calories, with a maximum 300 mg per day; and 5) limit
sodium intake to one gram per 1,000 calories, not to exceed
three grams a day.

Cod-Fearing Fish

Typically, only about 5% of the salmon raised in and
released from Pacific Northwest fish hatcheries each year
survive to return to freshwater spawning grounds. One cause
of the high mortality rate, say researchers, is that the
homegrown fish have not

learned to avoid cod, a natural salmon predator. So now
scientists are trying to learn how to literally put the
fear of cod into hatchery salmon. One experimental
technique involves immersing a transparent Plexiglas tank
containing young salmon in another tank full of hungry cod,
which strike the sides of the smaller container. Another
approach is to simply drop frozen whole cod into the midst
of the salmon, startling them. Though still experimental,
the procedures have produced “very dramatic differences” in
salmon survival and may someday be used by commercial
hatcheries.

Parks and Pesticides

Although it still spreads some 25 tons of pesticides a
year, the National Park Service has halved its use of the
chemicals since 1978, says a report in Environmental
Action
magazine (bimonthly, $20; Environmental Action,
Washington, DC). Over
200 Park Service employees have been trained in integrated
pest management, which stresses minimal use of chemicals
and applications carefully timed to coincide with the
target pest’s natural cycle. The service’s consumption of
synthetic herbicides and insecticides has decreased from
100,000 pounds in 1979 to less than 50,000 pounds, while
use of low-toxicity substances such as Bacillus
thuringiensis
and boric acid has increased 25%.

Bus Saw

Yankee ingenuity is alive and well in Maine, where Martin
Madden, Sr., recently converted a 1973 school bus into a
sawmill on wheels. Madden and his son removed all the seats
except the driver’s, installed a standard tractor-type mill
behind the seat, then cut through a side wall and added
hinges to create an opening for feeding logs into the mill.
To power the 40-inch saw, he added an outer rim to a rear
wheel, attached an exterior flywheel to the saw, and
connected the two with a drive belt. When he arrives at a
job site, he merely jacks up the drive wheel, cranks up the
bus, and slips the mill into gear. “I’m using about five
gallons of gas per 1,000 board feet,” he says. “That’s not
too bad for a small, one-man operation like mine.”

Radon Reports

At least 8 million homes in the country are thought to have
dangerously high concentrations of radon, a naturally
occurring radioactive gas that enters buildings through
foundation cracks, faulty slabs, and drainage systems. The
EPA has blamed radon for 5,000 to 20,000 U.S. lung cancer
deaths annually and has warned against smoking in homes
where radon levels exceed four picocuries (a measure of
radioactivity); in New York State alone, 15% of all homes
surpass that level. According to University of Pittsburgh
researchers, virtually every state has some radon. The good
news: Excessive radon pollution can be controlled.
Depending on the severity of the problem, corrective
measures can be simple and inexpensive (opening basement
windows to improve ventilation) or complicated and
expensive (installing a pipeline to divert the gas away
from the site). For further information, read A
Citizen’s Guide to Radon: What It Is and What to Do
About It
and Radon Reduction Methods: A
Homeowner’s Guide,
both available free from EPA,
Office of External Affairs (80 EA), Denver, CO. Also, an easy-to-use radon home
test kit is available for $16.95 (or three for $45, for
those wanting to test basement, living, and sleeping areas)
from The Fund for Renewable Energy and the Environment,
FREE Market, Dept. RTK, Washington, DC.

Fuel Cell Progress

Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory have
designed and built a miniature, lightweight fuel cell
that-if scaled up–could deliver twice the power and fuel
economy supplied by an internal combustion engine of equal
weight. Fuel cells produce energy by converting a fuel such
as methane, alcohol, or hydrogen directly into electricity
by way of chemical reactions that release electrons. Unlike
other working fuel cells that generate relatively little
current in relation to their considerable size, the Argonne
model-which consists of thin, ceramic components
honeycombed together like a piece of corrugated
cardboard–produces a relatively high current density. The
researchers have tested cells only a few inches across that
generate up to a watt of electricity, and are now working
to develop larger, more powerful units.

Carbon Monoxide Down

The Clean Air Act and, more specifically, auto-emissions
controls are credited with a continuing decline in carbon
monoxide levels among city dwellers, says Dr. Paul
Heckerling of the University of Illinois-Chicago. In a
1985-86 study of 101 nonsmoking adults, the mean carbon
monoxide blood level was 0.77%, compared with 1.53% in
a similar Chicago study in 1974-75 and 2.04% in 1970.

Greenway Corridors

The President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors is
considering developing a national network of “greenway
corridors”: strips of land along streams, old canal paths,
abandoned rail lines, and powerline rights of way that
could be set aside and used as parks. The commission
suggests that the network be started by establishing
greenways near urban centers, where most of the population
lives; later, extensions could be added to reach into
suburban and rural areas. Local and state groups would be
responsible for establishing and maintaining the recreation
parks, but with additional financial and administrative
support from the federal government.