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Leading to problems

Implications of the study linking childhood lead exposure and adult criminality

A study just published in the journal PLoS Medicine (and written up in the L.A. Times) suggests a link between childhood lead exposure and adult arrests for violent crimes. Studying 250 adults for whom they had prenatal and childhood blood lead level measurements, University of Cincinnati researchers found that each 5-microgram-per-deciliter increase in blood lead levels at age 6 was associated with a nearly 50 percent increased risk of arrest as a young adult (the risk ratio was 1.48). The good news is that overall, U.S. children's blood lead levels have dropped dramatically since manufacturers started phasing lead out of …

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More employees encouraged to telecommute, work short weeks

Employers across the country are offering workers the option to telecommute or work a four-day week to help cut down on fuel costs. Compressed work weeks are particularly attractive to employees who work in places without reliable mass transit -- especially since a 10-hour day can mean coming in early and leaving late enough to avoid rush hour traffic. As an added bonus, offices find that fewer employees on site means lessened energy costs. And allowing workers to cut down on commuting can also increase morale. "As the price of gas rises, the level of grumbling rises," says a spokesperson …

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From Libretto to Liquor

Truth or falsetto An Inconvenient Truth gives its encore performance -- at the Milan opera house. Climate change ain't over 'til the fat Albert sings. Photo: Gil Cohen Magen / Reuters Lookin' fin Feel like a fish out of water? Slip into an itsy bitsy teeny weeny salmon skin bikini. Made from discarded scales and trimmed in Lycra, they may cost a lox, but your chums will surely filet envious. Pop on pop Think those salmon 'skinis are a bit fishy? Suit up with a pant/jacket combo made from recycled pop bottles. Pair it with a clip-on recycle tie and …

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Candy-shaped rat poison on its way out

EPA gives manufacturers three years to adjust to new regulations designed to protect children

The U.S. EPA announced today that it would be tightening up the safety requirements on ten nasty rodenticides that are blamed for poisoning around 10,000 children -- mostly black and Latino inner-city kids -- every year. Those ten chemicals will no longer be available in the form of little pellets that look like candy, and that small children are so prone to stick in their mouths. The new rules will require non-agricultural users of rat poison to use it only inside tamper-resistant bait stations designed to protect kids. This is great news, and a long time in coming. There's just …

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Mow and mow worse

My yard, a source of shame

When my fella and I bought our house last year, we tried to make thoughtful decisions as we accessorized our new lives -- years of editing Umbra have left me with little choice. So we bought a reel mower -- completely manual, no gas, no cord, just a few blades and some sweat. And I'm here to report: Our mower sucks. It rattles. It doesn't cut all that well. It completely misses the tall, thin weeds that have populated our lawn this spring, so that even after a fresh cut it looks like we haven't touched the thing for weeks. …

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Toward a civil, inclusive national conversation on food — over a savory tart

As the date for Slow Food Nation -- the big sustainable-food conference scheduled in San Francisco this coming August -- draws near, I've been thinking about attitudes toward food in the erstwhile Fast Food Nation. Like a big pot of water that's been on high heat seemingly forever, our national conversation on food seems to be reaching a boil at long last. Slow Food Nation. Now, my world revolves around food, so I may not be the most reliable gauge of such things. I have a tendency to assume everyone shares my obsession -- to the point where I am …

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Truth or falsetto

Inconvenient Truth gives an encore — as an opera

Climate change ain't over 'til the fat Albert sings ...

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A fool and his money

I'm guessing these people just want attention, so I'll give them a little: Conservative grassroots group Grassfire.org wants people to waste as much energy as possible on June 12 by "hosting a barbecue, going for a drive, watching television, leaving a few lights on, or even smoking a few cigars." But only a little.

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City residents emit less CO2, study says

Residents of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States emit less carbon dioxide pollution per capita than the U.S. average, according to a new study. The Brookings Institution analyzed data on household and transportation energy use and found that the average U.S. resident was responsible for about 2.87 tons of carbon pollution a year, but that residents of the U.S.'s 100 largest metro areas had footprints of just 2.47 tons a year on average. Among the 100 largest cities, Honolulu residents were responsible for the least per capita emissions: about 1.5 tons per person per year. Lexington, Ky., …

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Heating heaven

Early appearances of climate change in popular literature

Last week, I picked up a copy of the newly reissued 1971 Ursula Le Guin classic The Lathe of Heaven, which takes place in dystopic, post-collapse Portland, Ore., circa 2002 or so. It's typical brilliance from Le Guin, of whom I can't read enough, but I was interested to see that the novel begins by describing Mt. Hood devoid of snow due to the greenhouse effect. The climate is entirely different from that of the 1960s, with blue skies a thing of the past and rainfall patterns completely shifted. It's the earliest "popular literature" mention of global warming I've come …

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