Wisdom Magazine's Monthly Webzine Skip Navigation Links
Wisdom Magazine is also one of the country's largest free holistic publications with 150,000 copies printed bi-monthly in three regional print editions. Wisdom is dedicated to opening people's hearts and minds to the philosophies, products and services of the new millennium.
Home  About  This Month's Articles  Calendar of Events  Classified Listings  Holistic Resource Directory
 Educational Programs  Sacred Journeys & Retreats  Yoga Teacher Training
 Article Archives  What's New in Books, CD's & DVD's  Wisdom Marketplace
 Where to Find Wisdom Near You  Subscriptions  Web Partner Links
 Advertising Information  Contact Us
Denali Institute of Northern Traditions
Miriam Smith
Margaret Ann Lembo
Maureen St Germain
Spirit Hollow
Laura Norman Reflexology
Vibes Up
Light Healing
Sacred Journeys Retreats
Alternatives For Healing

EarthTalk®

by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss


EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Can you discuss pollutants in car interior materials, and also pollution inside cars originating from gasoline and diesel exhausts outside the car? -- Mervyn Kline, Philadelphia, PA

The interior of your car may seem like a safe haven from air pollution, but it may actually be quite the opposite. Chemicals emanating from the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests and seats mix with the airborne pollution being generated under the hood to form a witch’s brew of toxins for those riding inside.

“Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” says Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center, a Michigan-based non-profit. The extreme air temperatures inside cars on sunny days can increase the concentration of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and break other chemicals down into more toxic constituents. Some of the worst offenders include airborne bromine, chlorine, lead and other heavy metals. “Since these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face,” adds Gearhart.

Exhaust fumes also find their way into the passenger cabins of many cars. The International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) found that concentrations of carbon monoxide (a noxious by-product of internal combustion known to cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue as well as being a major asthma trigger) may be 10 times higher inside any given car than outdoors along the roadside. ICTA added that in light of the fact that the average American spends an hour and a half driving around each day, in-car air pollution may pose “one of the greatest modern threats to human health.”

To help consumers minimize their exposure, the Ecology Center released the fourth version of its Consumer Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Cars in 2012, comparing over 200 different cars across the 2010 and 2011 model years. Those scoring the most kudos in regard to interior air quality include the Honda Civic, Toyota Prius and Honda CR-Z. The Civic scored first by being free of bromine-based flame retardants (BFRs) in interior components, utilizing polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-free interior fabrics and trim, and having low levels of heavy metals.

Meanwhile, pulling up the rear were Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport, the Chrysler 200 SC and the Kia Soul. The Outlander finished in last place due to its use of BFRS as well as antimony-based flame retardants in its interior, chromium treated leather components and excessive amounts of lead in seating materials.

“The good news is overall vehicle ratings are improving,” reports the Ecology Center, adding that the top performers have gotten rid of BFRs and PVC altogether in their interiors. “Today, 17 percent of new vehicles have PVC-free interiors and 60 percent are produced without BFRs.”

Consumers can check on their late model car by steering their web browser to the HealthyStuff.org website, the Ecology Center’s free online resource for consumer information. While environmental and public health groups are working to try to get automakers to clean up their interiors, individuals can reduce their exposure by parking in the shade, using interior sun reflectors to keep temperatures down inside the car and rolling down the windows to let the fresh air in.

CONTACTS: Ecology Center, www.ecocenter.org; ICTA, www.icta.org; Model Year 2011/2012 Guide to New Vehicles, www.healthystuff.org/documents/2012_Cars.pdf.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: While working to protect public land from resource extraction and development seems to be the focus of many environmental groups, what is being done to preserve and protect private property—the majority of our land—across the country? -- Jim Friedland, Bath, ME

Indeed, private property makes up about 60 percent of the total land base across the United States. In 42 states there is more private land than public, and by a wide margin in most cases. (Only Alaska, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, Wyoming and California have more public land—that is, land owned by a federal, state, county or municipal government—than private.) Of course, all this private land isn’t just the parcels where our houses sit. It includes most commercial, industrial and agricultural lands as well.

What we each do on our own private property may be our own business, but whether and how we take care of it does impact the public good and the health of ecosystems near and far. One way each of us can do our part is by cultivating native plants and landscaping around our homes and businesses to increase habitat for local wildlife. As development slowly but surely swallows up open space, every backyard counts. The National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF’s) Certified Wildlife Habitat program provides homeowners with information and inspiration to make their backyards part of the solution.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans have used local land trusts to put conservation easements on their properties that preclude future development. The Washington, DC-based Land Trust Alliance serves as a clearinghouse for information on obtaining conservation easements and other private land protections through one of the 1,700 local land trusts across the country. And the Virginia-based Nature Conservancy has helped protect upwards of 15 million acres of private land across the U.S. by buying at-risk parcels, putting conservation easements on them and seeing that they are managed sustainably moving forward.

As for conservation on working lands, the American Farmland Trust has helped thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country protect over five million acres of private agricultural and grazing land through conservation easements and other tools designed to limit the conversion to non-agricultural uses.

There are also smaller regionally focused groups that work on private lands conservation. Stewardship Partners works with Washington state homeowners and businesses to restore fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality, protect open space and “green up” the built environment while maintaining working landscapes of farms, forestland and livable communities. The group has helped hundreds of farms and vineyards across the state identify ways to restore otherwise unproductive lands for the betterment of local ecosystems, and is helping thousands of homeowners across the state install “rain gardens” that utilize rainfall to save water and reduce run-off pollution in and around the Seattle area.

Another pioneering private lands conservation group, the Pacific Forest Trust, works with owners of private forestlands throughout California, Oregon and Washington to preserve working forests and keep sustainable forest practices alive and well in some of the country’s most productive timber forests. To date the group has helped conserve upwards of 50,000 acres of private forestland in the region through conservation easements and other means.

CONTACTS: NWF, www.nwf.org; Land Trust Alliance, www.landtrustalliance.org; The Nature Conservancy, www.nature.org; American Farmland Trust, www.farmland.org; Stewardship Partners, www.stewardshippartners.org; Pacific Forest Trust, www.pacificforest.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I understand the Navy is doing sonar testing and training in the oceans and that their activities will likely kill hundreds if not thousands of whales and other marine mammals. What can be done to stop this? -- Jackie Bomgardner, Wilton, CT

Active sonar is a technology used on ships to aid in navigation, and the U.S. Navy tests and trains with it extensively in American territorial waters. The Navy also conducts missile and bomb testing in the same areas. But environmentalists and animal advocates contend that this is harming whales and other marine wildlife, and are calling on the Navy to curtail such training and testing exercises accordingly.

“Naval sonar systems work like acoustic floodlights, sending sound waves through ocean waters for tens or even hundreds of miles to disclose large objects in their path,” reports the non-profit Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). “But this activity entails deafening sound: even one low-frequency active sonar loudspeaker can be as loud as a twin-engine fighter jet at takeoff.”

According to CBD, sonar and other military testing can have an especially devastating effect on whales, given how dependent they are on their sense of hearing for feeding, breeding, nursing, communication and navigation. The group adds that sonar can also directly injure whales by causing hearing loss, hemorrhages and other kinds of trauma, as well as drive them rapidly to the surface or toward shore.

In 2007, a U.S. appeals court sided with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which had contended that Navy testing violated the National Environmental Policy Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act. But within three months of this ruling, then-President George W. Bush exempted the Navy, citing national security reasons. The exemption was subsequently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court upon challenge, and the Navy released estimates that its training exercises scheduled through 2015 could kill upwards of 1,000 marine mammals and seriously injure another 5,000.

Luckily, in September 2013 a federal court in California sided with green groups in a lawsuit charging that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) failed to protect thousands of marine mammals from Navy warfare training exercises in the Northwest Training Range Complex along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. In the opinion, Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas ruled that NMFS’s prior approval of the Navy’s activities there failed to use the best available science to assess the extent and duration of impacts to the marine mammals. As a result of the ruling, NMFS must reassess its permits to ensure that the Navy’s activities comply with protective measures per the Endangered Species Act.

“This is a victory for dozens of protected species of marine mammals, including critically endangered Southern Resident orcas, blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins and porpoises,” says Steve Mashuda, an attorney with the environmental law firm, Earthjustice, which represented the coalition in the lawsuit.

The recent ruling will no doubt be challenged. Also, the Navy still has the green light to use sonar and do weapons testing off the East Coast despite the risks. Concerned readers can send a message through the NRDC website calling on U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to direct the Navy to adopt safeguards to protect marine mammals during training without sacrificing national security.

CONTACTS: CBD, www.biologicaldiversity.org; NMFS, www.nmfs.noaa.gov; NRDC, www.nrdc.org; Earthjustice, www.earthjustice.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I hear there’s a greener form of fracking for natural gas and oil that uses carbon dioxide instead of water to access underground reserves. Is this really better for the environment? -- Jason Burroughs, Erie, PA

Hydraulic fracturing (known as “fracking”) is a method of causing fissures in underground shale rock formations to facilitate the extraction of otherwise inaccessible natural gas and oil. In a typical fracking operation, drillers inject a mixture of pressurized water and chemicals underground to fracture the rock and free up the gas and oil. Not widely employed in the U.S. until less than a decade ago, fracking has quickly become a major player in the U.S. energy scene. The resulting influx of cheap domestic natural gas—cleaner burning than the oil and coal it has replaced—is at least partly responsible for the fact that the U.S. has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions to the lowest levels since 1992.

Fracking has been good for oil companies, the economy and even our carbon footprint, but it doesn’t come without environmental cost. A typical fracking operation pumps some five million gallons of water and chemicals underground to break up the shale. About half the water is removed during the oil and gas recovery process, leaving the other half underground where it can contaminate aquifers and degrade soils.

Enterprising petroleum engineers have been hard at work trying to find ways to frack without water. One promising alternative involves using carbon dioxide (CO2) to break up the underground shale instead of water. “Fracking with carbon dioxide has a number of potential advantages,” reports Kevin Bullis in the MIT Technology Review. “Not only would it eliminate the need for millions of gallons of water per well, it would also eliminate the large amounts of wastewater produced in the process.”

He adds that CO2 may also yield more natural gas and oil than water, given the dynamics of how it works underground. Also, CO2 used in fracking can be recovered and used repeatedly. And once a well is done producing, it can be sealed up, sequestering the CO2 underground where it can’t add to global warming.

Researchers at the University of Virginia estimate that fracked sections of the Marcellus shale in the eastern U.S. could store over half of all U.S. CO2 emissions from power plants and other stationary sources over the next 20 years, with other shale formations providing significant additional storage.

Right now CO2-based fracking is uncommon, given the abundance of water in our biggest fracking regions and the logistical challenges in transporting a compressible gas to well sites safely and cheaply. But as fracking expands into politically charged areas, or arid regions where water is scarce, waterless fracking could become more common. Already, nearly half of the fracked wells drilled across the U.S. in 2011-2012 are in water-stressed areas, according to the sustainability-oriented non-profit, CERES. And a recent study from the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie concluded that many of the countries with the greatest promise for developing shale oil and gas through fracking suffer from water shortages.

Bullis says that one of the largest shale gas resources in the world is in China underneath 115,000 square miles of desert. “Piping in water would strain already tight supplies,” he says, but adds that China’s major use of coal-fired power plants means the country has plenty of CO2 it could be capturing and using.


CONTACTS: MIT Technology Review, www.technologyreview.com; “Estimating the Carbon Sequestration Capacity of Shale Formations Using Methane Production Rates,” http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es401221j.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I hear there’s a greener form of fracking for natural gas and oil that uses carbon dioxide instead of water to access underground reserves. Is this really better for the environment? -- Jason Burroughs, Erie, PA

Hydraulic fracturing (known as “fracking”) is a method of causing fissures in underground shale rock formations to facilitate the extraction of otherwise inaccessible natural gas and oil. In a typical fracking operation, drillers inject a mixture of pressurized water and chemicals underground to fracture the rock and free up the gas and oil. Not widely employed in the U.S. until less than a decade ago, fracking has quickly become a major player in the U.S. energy scene. The resulting influx of cheap domestic natural gas—cleaner burning than the oil and coal it has replaced—is at least partly responsible for the fact that the U.S. has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions to the lowest levels since 1992.

Fracking has been good for oil companies, the economy and even our carbon footprint, but it doesn’t come without environmental cost. A typical fracking operation pumps some five million gallons of water and chemicals underground to break up the shale. About half the water is removed during the oil and gas recovery process, leaving the other half underground where it can contaminate aquifers and degrade soils.

Enterprising petroleum engineers have been hard at work trying to find ways to frack without water. One promising alternative involves using carbon dioxide (CO2) to break up the underground shale instead of water. “Fracking with carbon dioxide has a number of potential advantages,” reports Kevin Bullis in the MIT Technology Review. “Not only would it eliminate the need for millions of gallons of water per well, it would also eliminate the large amounts of wastewater produced in the process.”

He adds that CO2 may also yield more natural gas and oil than water, given the dynamics of how it works underground. Also, CO2 used in fracking can be recovered and used repeatedly. And once a well is done producing, it can be sealed up, sequestering the CO2 underground where it can’t add to global warming.

Researchers at the University of Virginia estimate that fracked sections of the Marcellus shale in the eastern U.S. could store over half of all U.S. CO2 emissions from power plants and other stationary sources over the next 20 years, with other shale formations providing significant additional storage.

Right now CO2-based fracking is uncommon, given the abundance of water in our biggest fracking regions and the logistical challenges in transporting a compressible gas to well sites safely and cheaply. But as fracking expands into politically charged areas, or arid regions where water is scarce, waterless fracking could become more common. Already, nearly half of the fracked wells drilled across the U.S. in 2011-2012 are in water-stressed areas, according to the sustainability-oriented non-profit, CERES. And a recent study from the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie concluded that many of the countries with the greatest promise for developing shale oil and gas through fracking suffer from water shortages.

Bullis says that one of the largest shale gas resources in the world is in China underneath 115,000 square miles of desert. “Piping in water would strain already tight supplies,” he says, but adds that China’s major use of coal-fired power plants means the country has plenty of CO2 it could be capturing and using.


CONTACTS: MIT Technology Review, www.technologyreview.com; “Estimating the Carbon Sequestration Capacity of Shale Formations Using Methane Production Rates,” http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es401221j.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I understand the Navy is doing sonar testing and training in the oceans and that their activities will likely kill hundreds if not thousands of whales and other marine mammals. What can be done to stop this? -- Jackie Bomgardner, Wilton, CT

Active sonar is a technology used on ships to aid in navigation, and the U.S. Navy tests and trains with it extensively in American territorial waters. The Navy also conducts missile and bomb testing in the same areas. But environmentalists and animal advocates contend that this is harming whales and other marine wildlife, and are calling on the Navy to curtail such training and testing exercises accordingly.

“Naval sonar systems work like acoustic floodlights, sending sound waves through ocean waters for tens or even hundreds of miles to disclose large objects in their path,” reports the non-profit Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). “But this activity entails deafening sound: even one low-frequency active sonar loudspeaker can be as loud as a twin-engine fighter jet at takeoff.”

According to CBD, sonar and other military testing can have an especially devastating effect on whales, given how dependent they are on their sense of hearing for feeding, breeding, nursing, communication and navigation. The group adds that sonar can also directly injure whales by causing hearing loss, hemorrhages and other kinds of trauma, as well as drive them rapidly to the surface or toward shore.

In 2007, a U.S. appeals court sided with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which had contended that Navy testing violated the National Environmental Policy Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act. But within three months of this ruling, then-President George W. Bush exempted the Navy, citing national security reasons. The exemption was subsequently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court upon challenge, and the Navy released estimates that its training exercises scheduled through 2015 could kill upwards of 1,000 marine mammals and seriously injure another 5,000.

Luckily, in September 2013 a federal court in California sided with green groups in a lawsuit charging that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) failed to protect thousands of marine mammals from Navy warfare training exercises in the Northwest Training Range Complex along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. In the opinion, Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas ruled that NMFS’s prior approval of the Navy’s activities there failed to use the best available science to assess the extent and duration of impacts to the marine mammals. As a result of the ruling, NMFS must reassess its permits to ensure that the Navy’s activities comply with protective measures per the Endangered Species Act.

“This is a victory for dozens of protected species of marine mammals, including critically endangered Southern Resident orcas, blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins and porpoises,” says Steve Mashuda, an attorney with the environmental law firm, Earthjustice, which represented the coalition in the lawsuit.

The recent ruling will no doubt be challenged. Also, the Navy still has the green light to use sonar and do weapons testing off the East Coast despite the risks. Concerned readers can send a message through the NRDC website calling on U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to direct the Navy to adopt safeguards to protect marine mammals during training without sacrificing national security.

CONTACTS: CBD, www.biologicaldiversity.org; NMFS, www.nmfs.noaa.gov; NRDC, www.nrdc.org; Earthjustice, www.earthjustice.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: While working to protect public land from resource extraction and development seems to be the focus of many environmental groups, what is being done to preserve and protect private property—the majority of our land—across the country? -- Jim Friedland, Bath, ME

Indeed, private property makes up about 60 percent of the total land base across the United States. In 42 states there is more private land than public, and by a wide margin in most cases. (Only Alaska, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, Wyoming and California have more public land—that is, land owned by a federal, state, county or municipal government—than private.) Of course, all this private land isn’t just the parcels where our houses sit. It includes most commercial, industrial and agricultural lands as well.

What we each do on our own private property may be our own business, but whether and how we take care of it does impact the public good and the health of ecosystems near and far. One way each of us can do our part is by cultivating native plants and landscaping around our homes and businesses to increase habitat for local wildlife. As development slowly but surely swallows up open space, every backyard counts. The National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF’s) Certified Wildlife Habitat program provides homeowners with information and inspiration to make their backyards part of the solution.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans have used local land trusts to put conservation easements on their properties that preclude future development. The Washington, DC-based Land Trust Alliance serves as a clearinghouse for information on obtaining conservation easements and other private land protections through one of the 1,700 local land trusts across the country. And the Virginia-based Nature Conservancy has helped protect upwards of 15 million acres of private land across the U.S. by buying at-risk parcels, putting conservation easements on them and seeing that they are managed sustainably moving forward.

As for conservation on working lands, the American Farmland Trust has helped thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country protect over five million acres of private agricultural and grazing land through conservation easements and other tools designed to limit the conversion to non-agricultural uses.

There are also smaller regionally focused groups that work on private lands conservation. Stewardship Partners works with Washington state homeowners and businesses to restore fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality, protect open space and “green up” the built environment while maintaining working landscapes of farms, forestland and livable communities. The group has helped hundreds of farms and vineyards across the state identify ways to restore otherwise unproductive lands for the betterment of local ecosystems, and is helping thousands of homeowners across the state install “rain gardens” that utilize rainfall to save water and reduce run-off pollution in and around the Seattle area.

Another pioneering private lands conservation group, the Pacific Forest Trust, works with owners of private forestlands throughout California, Oregon and Washington to preserve working forests and keep sustainable forest practices alive and well in some of the country’s most productive timber forests. To date the group has helped conserve upwards of 50,000 acres of private forestland in the region through conservation easements and other means.

CONTACTS: NWF, www.nwf.org; Land Trust Alliance, www.landtrustalliance.org; The Nature Conservancy, www.nature.org; American Farmland Trust, www.farmland.org; Stewardship Partners, www.stewardshippartners.org; Pacific Forest Trust, www.pacificforest.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Can you discuss pollutants in car interior materials, and also pollution inside cars originating from gasoline and diesel exhausts outside the car? -- Mervyn Kline, Philadelphia, PA

The interior of your car may seem like a safe haven from air pollution, but it may actually be quite the opposite. Chemicals emanating from the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests and seats mix with the airborne pollution being generated under the hood to form a witch’s brew of toxins for those riding inside.

“Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” says Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center, a Michigan-based non-profit. The extreme air temperatures inside cars on sunny days can increase the concentration of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and break other chemicals down into more toxic constituents. Some of the worst offenders include airborne bromine, chlorine, lead and other heavy metals. “Since these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face,” adds Gearhart.

Exhaust fumes also find their way into the passenger cabins of many cars. The International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) found that concentrations of carbon monoxide (a noxious by-product of internal combustion known to cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue as well as being a major asthma trigger) may be 10 times higher inside any given car than outdoors along the roadside. ICTA added that in light of the fact that the average American spends an hour and a half driving around each day, in-car air pollution may pose “one of the greatest modern threats to human health.”

To help consumers minimize their exposure, the Ecology Center released the fourth version of its Consumer Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Cars in 2012, comparing over 200 different cars across the 2010 and 2011 model years. Those scoring the most kudos in regard to interior air quality include the Honda Civic, Toyota Prius and Honda CR-Z. The Civic scored first by being free of bromine-based flame retardants (BFRs) in interior components, utilizing polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-free interior fabrics and trim, and having low levels of heavy metals.

Meanwhile, pulling up the rear were Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport, the Chrysler 200 SC and the Kia Soul. The Outlander finished in last place due to its use of BFRS as well as antimony-based flame retardants in its interior, chromium treated leather components and excessive amounts of lead in seating materials.

“The good news is overall vehicle ratings are improving,” reports the Ecology Center, adding that the top performers have gotten rid of BFRs and PVC altogether in their interiors. “Today, 17 percent of new vehicles have PVC-free interiors and 60 percent are produced without BFRs.”

Consumers can check on their late model car by steering their web browser to the HealthyStuff.org website, the Ecology Center’s free online resource for consumer information. While environmental and public health groups are working to try to get automakers to clean up their interiors, individuals can reduce their exposure by parking in the shade, using interior sun reflectors to keep temperatures down inside the car and rolling down the windows to let the fresh air in.

CONTACTS: Ecology Center, www.ecocenter.org; ICTA, www.icta.org; Model Year 2011/2012 Guide to New Vehicles, www.healthystuff.org/documents/2012_Cars.pdf.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.


Add Comment

Article Archives  This Month's Articles  Click Here for more articles by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss
Joshua Bloom
Empowered Light Expo
Light Healing
Miriam Smith
Kiros Book
Alternatives For Healing
Spirit Hollow
Laura Norman Reflexology
Denali Institute
Margaret Ann Lembo

Call Us Toll Free: 888-577-8091 or  |  Email Us  | About Us  | Privacy Policy  | Site Map  | © 2016 Wisdom Magazine