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Readers Respond

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Letters to the Pilot

Did you know?

From JAN FAINE / Storm Lake

Did you know that biofuel is unhealthy? Cars running on gas with a high percxentage of ethanol emit a level of carginogens similar to that of cars fueled with regular gasoline, according to the September 15 "Bottom Line Personal" publication.

They also emit 20 times more acetaldehyde - a major contributor to ozone production. Ozone increases the risk of respiratory diseases, such as bronchitis and asthma, according to the article, by Mark. Z. Jocobson, Stanford professor and author of a study on the health impact of ethanol vs. gasoline in the Environmental Science & Technology digest.

Where did knobs go?

By GERALD SCHNEPF / Keep Iowa Beautfiul

Over the years our vehicles have undergone dramatic changes. Up until the 1970's and 1980's most of the vehicles had "knobs" - knobs for heater controls, knobs for the cigarette lighter, knobs to pull out the ash tray, knobs for the cubby hole and knobs for the vents. In the past three decades the knobs have disappeared only to be replaced with buttons or sensors - that's progress!

The only immediate problem is that many of us that were accustomed to carrying a small plastic bag that had holes in the top to fit over a knob and hang in readiness for travel trash and litter.

With the disappearance of the knobs the plastic "litter bags" began to disappear (at least for usage in the vehicle). Everyone that keeps handing out the traditional bags at events, conventions, festivals and meetings are doing so thinking that they are providing a vehicle litter bag.

The fact is that they are in all likelihood providing a carrying bag that in all probability will never make it to a vehicle (it may even end up as litter). It is amazing how long a tradition can carry on without adjusting to the new technology.

During the 20 to 30 year period without knobs, many people have tended to get out of the habit of having litter bags in their vehicles.

It was this situation that led Keep Iowa Beautiful to design a special plastic litter bag that would work in today's modern high tech "knob-less" vehicle. A bag with a perforation that could be separated to provide a strap that could then fit over the headrest in any vehicle. With that approach the bag hangs into the back seat for riders and children as will as the driver and any passenger. The newly designed bag was fabricated with the help of Home Plastics located in Des Moines. The new version was tested with the Iowa State Patrol. It passed the test with flying colors.

In the past three years over 150,000 of these bags have been provided to Iowans and visitors to the State through the rest areas and Iowa's Welcome Centers. The first year sponsor was the Iowa Lottery and in the succeeding years it has been Waste Management Inc. of Iowa. Future vehicle litter bags will include the 1-888-No Littr (665-4887) number on them.

We haven't had any way to test the success of the bag in moving people to carry them in vehicles. The verbal responses and comments that we have to date for the new bag have been very positive. We hope that it is making a difference in helping to Keep Iowa Beautiful.