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Enviro-Newsbrief January 21, 1999


Enviro-Newsbrief                             January 21, 1999

     The following is a daily update summarizing news of interest
to EPA staff. It includes information from current news sources:
newspapers, newsletters, and other publications. For more
information, contact the EPA Headquarters Information Resources
Center at (202) 260-5922, or e-mail LIBRARY-HQ.

**Viewpoints expressed in the following summaries do not
necessarily reflect EPA policy**

A searchable archive of past Enviro-Newsbriefs can be found on
the EPA web site at the following URL:
http://www.epa.gov/natlibra/hqirc/enb.htm


** POLYSTYRENE **

Walking on Eggshells, Polystyrene People Make a Comeback. The
Wall Street Journal, January 21, 1999, ppA1,A8.

     The polystyrene industry is experiencing a revival after
suffering an enormous image crisis in the late 80's due to
pressure from environmentalists. The ultimate blow came when
McDonald's stopped using polystyrene clamshell boxes for its
hamburgers in 1990.
     The mass exodus from polystyrene food containers to paper
containers such as cups is beginning to reverse a bit, thanks to
its lower costs and better insulating abilities.  The industry
still has to work to combat image problems, however. "People use
our products," said Mike Levy, director of the Polystyrene
Packaging Council. "But they don't like them very much."
     One way that the negative environmental image is being
countered is by printing environmental information about
polystyrene on the products themselves or displaying it at the
point of sale. Egg cartons sold at D'Agostino Supermarkets in New
York include information on the environmental benefits of
polystyrene: no CFCs are used, fewer raw materials are required,
and the egg cartons are recyclable. At the Jamba Juice Co. on the
West Coast, where polystyrene cups are used for smoothies, a
pamphlet is displayed called "Who Is Polly Styrene?" that
discusses the case for polystyrene.
     Environmentally-concerned consumers still tend to prefer
paper for its biodegradability.  The polystyrene industry is
responding by creating a cup made from foam that looks like a
normal paper cup.  The cup is thin and has a rolled lip and a
side seam. The cups, produced by Tenneco Inc., cost less than
paper cups, and don't require "double-cupping," according to John
Zinsel, who owns three coffee and tea shops in New Orleans.
     Borders Group bookstores began shipping books and CDs in
foam peanuts in 1996, because it saved them over $1 million each
year from the paper padding that they had been using. Virginia
Lyle, environmental affairs manager at Free-Flow Packaging
International Inc., was responsible for educating Borders'
employees about polystyrene packing materials and convincing them
that polystyrene peanuts were not so bad.
     The industry now has global sales of about $8.5 billion each
year.  It had suffered a sales drop of 15% after the McDonald's
public switch away from the material. Sales are expected to rise
3.4% a year through 2002.
     McDonald's is planning to return to clamshell burger boxes
this year, although it is going with a material made by Earth
Shell Corp. The boxes are made from limestone, starch, and other
materials.


** SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHING **

Medical Journals Give New Meaning to "Political Science."
[Editorial]. The Wall Street Journal, January 21, 1999, pA18.

     Hudson Institute fellow Michael Fumento uses the recent
firing of George Lundberg, editor of the _Journal of the American
Medical Association_ (JAMA), to explore what he sees as "the
politicization of science and medical journals." Lundberg was
fired after "inappropriately and inexcusably" interjecting the
journal "into a major political debate that has nothing to do
with science or medicine," in the words of the Vice President of
the AMA. Lundberg had published a Kinsey Institute study
measuring how many college students considered oral sex to be
"sex."
     Fumento says that the JAMA affair is just one among many
instances in which journals - "almost certainly quite
intentionally" - publish scientific studies that are meant to
have a political effect.  In particular, he focuses on "bogus"
environmental studies that "end up costing the nation vast sums
of money for environmental studies and regulations."
     The author highlights a 1996 study reported in the journal
_Science_ that linked pesticides to hormone disruption. The study
(and a book, _Our Stolen Future_) led Congress to direct the EPA
to begin screening pesticides for hormonal effects.
     Fumento writes, "Science's editors were apparently
untroubled by the study's highly unusual methodology. Not only
did it not employ live animals, it didn't even use animal cells.
Instead the researchers gave their chemical cocktail to yeast -
great for baking and brewing but a questionable surrogate for
humans." The study was also funded in part by the W. Alton Jones
Foundation, whose director, John Peterson Myers, coauthored _Our
Stolen Future_.
     Devra Lee Davis, an epidemiologist at the World Resources
Institute, is also criticized by Fumento for her study linking a
reduction in the birth rate of males and man-made chemicals. The
study was published in JAMA last April under Lundberg's
editorship.
     A 1993 _New England Journal of Medicine_ study on
particulate air pollutants and mortality rates from respiratory
diseases led to unnecessary EPA regulations on small particulate
matter, according to Fumento.
     Fumento concludes, "... the role these journals play is so
incredibly important, the cost of malfeasance so terribly high,
that politics must not be allowed to worm into the science.
'Everybody does it' is no more an excuse for our scientific
gatekeepers than for our president."



** GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE **

Clinton Proposes Fund to Help Cut Greenhouse Gases, Air
Pollutants. Daily Environment Report, January 21, 1999, pA-2.

     The White House announced yesterday that the president's
budget proposal for FY 2000 will include a fund aimed to reduce
the emissions of both greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.
The fund, called the Clean Air Partnership Fund, was announced in
the president's State of the Union address on January 19.
     The EPA would administer the fund, which would be used to
provide grants to state and local governments.  The grants would
be used for voluntary projects to curb emissions.
     The White House said the fund would "stimulate cost-
effective pollution control strategies, spur technological
innovation, and leverage substantial non-federal investment in
improved air quality."
     The budget is also expected to include tax incentives for
climate change related action.  The president called on Congress
"to reward companies that take early, voluntary action to reduce
greenhouse gases" in the State of the Union address. Some tax
breaks will be proposed for consumers who purchase cars, houses,
appliances, etc., that are energy-efficient.
     The president's budget proposal is due on February 1.

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