Pesticide DangerI am writing in response to...


Pesticide Danger

I am writing in response to the letter from Allen James, executive director of RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), July 19. He criticized the editorial, June 27, which drew comparisons between the reaction of the lawn care industry to the new Prince George's County pesticide notification law and the efforts by the tobacco industry fighting smoking regulations.

Mr. James directed his comments to "pesticide runoff from urban lawns." As noted in your editorial, we at Thunder Hill Elementary School in Columbia have taken on the task of hand-weeding certain areas of the school grounds previously sprayed with herbicides. (Herbicides are specific types of pesticides which kill plants.)

We are concerned about the cumulative effects that pesticide run-off may have on groundwater, Chesapeake Bay, and ultimately all living things in our ecosystem.

We are especially worried about the possible effects of direct exposure to these toxic chemicals. This key issue was not addressed in Mr. James' letter.

Pesticides applied to lawns, school grounds, playgrounds, parks and other green areas are picked up by people on shoes, clothing, skin and pet fur. Many commonly-used pesticides are listed by the EPA as known, possible or suspected human carcinogens.

The struggle to secure legal safeguards against unnecessary exposure to pesticides will be long and difficult. Pesticide usage is so pervasive that we accept it as the norm and often fail to question its safety or necessity. When we do, we are assured by industry representatives that it poses no health risk.

Unlike cigarette smoke, which can be seen and smelled, we often cannot detect pesticides with our senses. Pesticides persist in the environment longer than cigarette smoke, affecting those who come into contact weeks or months after application.

What's at stake in terms of the corporate profits of the pesticide industry and public health will ensure that this struggle will ultimately dwarf the smoking controversy. . .

Nancy Lefenfeld


The writer is chairperson of the health and safety committee of Thunder Hill Elementary School.

Dumping On MVA

This is in reference to the letter of July 16, written by Mary Lou Roberts and captioned by the letters editor, "Another MVA Horror Story."

I read that letter, which was given a prominent spot on the editorial page, but I wonder if your editor read it.

How in the world can this be called an MVA horror story when three different government agencies were involved? Do you expect the Motor Vehicle Administration to re-issue a drivers license to someone it believes has not paid his fines?

It seems to me that The Sun has a strong bias against the MVA. Ms. Roberts' problem began when her friend was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. It's a wonder The Sun doesn't blame that on the MVA also.

As for the letter itself, I get a little tired of reading letters from people who feel so superior to state workers.

If she thinks that government offices are understaffed and people under-trained, I'd like to know where she was when Gov. William Donald Schaefer was laying off state workers, taking away benefits and cutting salaries.

She says that the people who suffer the most are the ones paying the taxes which pay state employees' salaries. I say "Hogwash!" Doesn't she know that state employees pay taxes, too?

I'm really glad that she got her friend's problem resolved. She said that she finally found a gentleman who knew what he was doing, but she didn't say what department of government he was with. Could it be possible that he was an MVA worker?

Hank Kasmierski

Locust Point

Gas Guzzlers

I had to laugh when I saw the letter from Joseph Carroll of the New Car and Truck Dealers Association. Mr. Carroll fails to mention that he and other auto lobbyists fought both the "clean car" and "gas guzzler" programs for the past two years, as they have fought on a national level to keep cars from being more efficient. . . .

The gas-guzzler program provides incentives for Marylanders to purchase more efficient cars. The money charged to purchasers of "guzzling" cars will fund much needed public transit, providing for an efficient and clean future for Maryland. Five other states want to follow our lead.

Car dealers should wake up and smell some fresh air and next year support both the guzzler and the clean cars program.

Dru Schmidt-Perkins


The writer is state director of Clean Water Action.

Buyer Beware of Sellers' Advice

Ellen James Martin's July 26 Real Estate section column, "Know your wants before you hunt for a new house," quotes real estate brokers who "caution" prospective home buyers not to dilly-dally in deciding to buy lest they not get their "dream homes."

"Even in a tepid market, you can still lose a house," proclaims one agent quoted by Ms. Martin. "Buyers have to be very careful not to be overconfident if a house is going to remain on the market until they get back to it," warns another, whose living, of course, depends on commissions generated by home sales.

Another agent actually advises against thinking about a purchase over the weekend. No doubt these agents would prefer the buyers rush to sign on the dotted line. The quicker the commissions come in, the quicker they collect their paychecks. Could there be a connection?

One important point she fails to recognize is that it is infinitely better to lose out on an attractive house because of over-caution rather than hastily buy a lemon because you're afraid someone will beat you to it.

Often, home buyers get too emotional and fall in love with a property. This is a mistake. Anyone contemplating an expenditure in the six-figure range (where most home buyers are today) better get tough and be darned careful before plunking down a dime.

And remember, it's better to lose a dream house than to get burned, because, believe me, there are plenty of homes for sale. You will find another house.

My own experience is evidence. My husband and I shopped for a year before buying our house. We eventually decided to buy into a new development and are quite satisfied. Our house is priced very competitively, based on its cost per square foot. (That measure, by the way, is probably the most reliable one for evaluating how good a deal you're getting.)

In the course of that year, we looked at 20 or 30 homes, and passed on some nice properties. Why? The prices were simply too high. We weren't going to overpay and risk losing value in this risky market, even for a "cream puff."

At the end of the article, Ms. Martin does advise against impulsive buying. But then she advises buyers to consult with their agents, failing, once again, to mention that all agents -- except the relatively rare "buyer brokers" -- represent the sellers under the law. And she closed her column by noting that if a seller "becomes annoyed and happens to have another viable buyer in the wings, you could lose out."

I suspect that sellers with viable, non-contingent buyers waiting in the wings are fairly rare these days.

Susan A. Winchurch



Columnist Jonathan Power, like all advocates of free immigration, never seems to ask himself where the limit is.

Mr. Power stated (July 24) that people move only to where jobs beckon. The case of recent Haitian immigrants belies that statement.

Out of desperation born of a hopeless situation in their own country, they will go anywhere there is a glimmer of hope. But the lucky ones who have been admitted to the United States are not finding jobs.

As long as Third World populations grow faster than the resources to provide employment, housing, education, food and health care, people will move to a place with greater resources.

Mr. Power and other writers seem not to understand that resources in the industrialized countries are limited, too.

Should the United States allow hordes of immigrants in until all of the wildlife has been forced out, all the forests cut down, all the water supplies polluted, the land exhausted, the landfills overwhelmed, the quality of life reduced to Third World standards?

The U.S. was almost completely self-sufficient during most of its history. Now this country is running through its resources as if there were no tomorrow, and using up great quantities of the produce of other countries as well.

There is a tomorrow. Let's balance the people and the resources they will need before it is too late.

We can visualize the consequences of present trends and avoid the worst outcomes. An old Chinese proverb reads, "If we don't change our direction, we'll end up where we are headed."

Carleton W. Brown


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