Writer: Lynne Peeples

Consumer Protection

“Biodegradable,” a Magic Word for Environmentally-Minded Consumers, Isn’t Always a Green Panacea

The ''Biodegradable'' label can be a powerful draw for shoppers concerned about the future of the planet. But they might not be aware of a critical drawback: As biodegradable materials break down in a landfill, which is where they usually end up, they can release methane, a potent greenhouse gas with climate warming effects upwards of 30 times that of carbon dioxide.

Environment

Curbside Quandary: Who Will Fix America’s Ailing Recycling Programs?

Mike Walker has just finished his lunch in the cafeteria at PCC Community Markets in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle. On the small table in front of him is a plastic sandwich wrapper, a potato chip bag and an energy drink can. Only one of those three is destined for a recycling bin. And even then, there's no guarantee that the can will end up recycled.

Consumer Protection

Wireless Industry Using First Amendment as a Cudgel in Its Battle Against Safety Warnings

Few people know that there are federal safety limits for exposure to the weak radiation emitted by cellphones and other wireless devices. There often is language about this embedded right in our phones, but finding it requires knowing where to look, wading through sometimes five or more steps and then [...]

Consumer Protection

The Toxic Chemical Whack-a-Mole Game

When her black cat rapidly dropped from a healthy 14 pounds to a skeletal five pounds, it was natural for Arlene Blum to investigate whether a toxic chemical in her home might be to blame. The veterinarian's diagnosis raised that possibility, and Blum had expertise in the harm that chemicals can cause. Her research as a chemist in the 1970s helped reveal the possible health hazards posed by flame retardants used in children's sleepwear.