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A clip-and-save reference guide for a variety of environmental issues


The other day I read in the New York Times about urine levels in Walden Pond. Now, I know this isn't the kind of article that appeals to everyone, but it appealed to me. I thought I had clipped it, but when I went to look for it later, it was nowhere to be found.

I know this happens to everyone. Not that everyone misplaces articles on urine in ponds, but that people know they read nTC something in the paper about a particular subject and now they wish they had clipped it. The reason I'm so certain this happens to other people is that most of them write me, hoping I can furnish them with the information they didn't save.

Unfortunately, my research correspondence staff is rather modest (nonexistent, in fact). This makes responding to individual queries too time-consuming. Here's what I'm going to do instead: publish the addresses or telephone numbers of the best sources of information on specific environmental issues that people most often ask about.

If you are interested, clip this column and save it. If you aren't interested and never will be, clip this column anyway. If you don't, you're bound to have an environmental emergency one of these days and be looking for my phone number.

* For pest control in house and garden try the Bio-Integral Resource Center, P.O. Box 7414, Berkeley, Calif. 94707. Send them a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) and ask for their publications list and membership info. The center's publications are understandable and comprehensive and can help answer any questions you have about pests.

* For least-toxic alternatives to household products, from drain opener to wood preservative, contact the Washington Toxics Coalition, 4516 University Way, NE, Seattle, Wash. 98105. Send an SASE for their list of fact sheet titles, or send $10 for a set of all 14 fact sheets.

If you have questions about the quality of your drinking water, call the EPA's Drinking Water Hotline, (800) 426-4791.

If you are considering buying a water filter but aren't sure what devices remove which contaminants, write the National Sanitation Foundation, P.O. Box 1468, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48106, for a copy of the latest listing of certified models.

Questions about energy-saving measures you can adopt at home? Call the U.S. Department of Energy's Conservation and Renewable Energy Inquiry and Referral Service at (800) 523-2929. They will send you fact sheets on home energy conservation techniques that are geared to the general public.

If you are interested in the same subject, but at a more technical level, call the National Appropriate Technologies Assistance Service at (800) 428-2525.

If you are a teacher looking for classroom materials about energy issues, write the National Energy Foundation, 5160 Wiley Post Way, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, Utah 84116, or call (801) 539-1406, and ask for a copy of their Resources for Education catalog.

Do you have questions about environmentally sound products? Where to find them, how to choose them? Call the Pennsylvania Resource Center's Shopping Hotline, (800) GO TO PRC.

Questions about indoor air quality? Asbestos, radon, formaldehyde, furnace emissions? Call the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Indoor Air Division, (703) 308-8470.

Do you wonder about the safety of your food? Americans for Safe Food, a project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, can tell you what pesticide residues you are likely to be eating, what the risks may be, and how you can minimize them. Call them at (202) 332-9110.

If you are looking for help encouraging -- or discouraging -- back-yard wildlife, write to the Institute for Urban Wildlife, 10921 Trotting Ridge Way, Columbia, Md. 21044 and ask for their publications list.

Direct your questions about recycling to the Ecology Center, in Berkeley, Calif., (415) 548-2220. They describe themselves as an information clearinghouse. Though theirs is not a toll-free number, the experts are very helpful and worth the call.

Before you make any toll calls, though, there are two places you should always try first: state and local government agencies. Your state department of wildlife can help you with wildlife, your trash utility can tell you about recycling, the public health department can direct you to help on water and air quality problems, and so on. These organizations usually have specific knowledge about local programs and conditions.

One other great place to try is the public library. Many of us seem to have forgotten that information is what libraries are for.

Have a question? Write Susan McGrath at P.O. Box 121, 1463 E. Republican St., Seattle, Wash. 98112.

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