Dear EarthTalk: I was in Los Angeles recently and the smog was not nearly as bad as when I visited 15 years ago. Is it really better now, and if so, how did it get that way? Or did I just happen to visit on a good day?-- Marjorie Hicke, Atlanta, GA
Dear EarthTalk: I read that car makers had agreed to up fuel economy standards to an average of about 55 miles per gallon by the year 2025, and that specifics were due to be hammered out by the end of 2011. Did this happen and where do things stand now?-- Scott Ellis, Norwalk, CA
EarthTalk® E - The Environmental Magazine Dear EarthTalk: There are many areas around the U.S. where “disease clusters” have occurred, whereby unusually large numbers of people have gotten sick, usually because of proximity to a polluter. What if anything is being done to remedy the situation?-- Michael Sorenson, Natick, MA
Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that Bisphenol A (BPA)—which is harmful to human health—was found to be present in retail cash register receipts and that, since those receipts get recycled, the chemical may also be present in toilet paper and other paper products? -- Jocelyn Mitchell, via e-mail
Dear EarthTalk: I was horrified to read recently that our oceans are actually becoming acidic, that the continued burning of fossil fuels is changing the chemistry of our seas. What’s going on? -- Kim Richardson, San Diego, CA
Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that cable and other pay TV boxes that sit atop television sets consume massive amounts of energy, in part because they are always on, even when the TV is off? -- Sam Winston, Metarie, LA
Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that the bathroom is where over half of our household water usage takes place? What are some ways to take a bite out of that? -- Shelby McIntyre, Chico, CA
Yes indeed, some 60 percent of our household indoor water usage happens in the bathroom. As such, updating old leaky fixtures and changing a few basic habits could go a long way to not only saving fresh water, an increasingly precious resource, but also money.
Many mainstream mouthwashes contain ingredients that you wouldn't want to swallow or rinse down the drain. Fortunately, there are many natural alternatives available now, including recipes for making your own.
Ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states have, in the face of federal inaction, agreed on a region-wide greenhouse gas emissions limit, enforced through the sale of pollution permits to large fossil fuel power plants there.