ABOUT 350 million gallons of motor oil are consumedannually in the United States by motorists who change their own oil.
Some 210 million gallons are poured on the ground, or down storm drains, or into trash that winds up in public landfills.
That is 20 times more oil spilled each year than the Exxon Valdez spread in Alaska's Prince William Sound.
These are amazing statistics for environmentalists, or anyone with a clean shirt, to mull over this long winter.
Why can't governments do more to curtail deliberate spills from private automobiles, as well as ocean-going vessels?
We've wondered about this, but never knew the depths of the problem until we read the actual figures in Cars & Parts magazine.
Yet every weekend you see the do-it-yourselfers in Herring Run and Clifton parks, in Druid Hill and Robert E. Lee parks, or near the sensitive Lower Gunpowder Falls. There is only one escape for used oil that is tossed off this way, and that is through the ground water that many area residents use to drink and bathe in.
For every two motorists who ditch their used oil, at least one
takes the time to dispose of it properly in used oil recycling programs. These may be identified through the Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of the Environment or local recycling programs.
AS MARYLAND school children prepared for their return to the classroom, an old grad (about 75 years ago) from John Eager Howard School No. 61 wrote us a nostalgic letter.
Millard F. Lazarus of Baltimore recalled seeing the following verse chalked up on the blackboard:
+ If a task is once begun Never leave it till it's done Be the labor great or small Do it well, or not at all. "I've remembered it all these years, and still feel it is a good rule live by," wrote Mr. Lazarus.
He wanted to know if the verse is on many blackboards now. We doubt it.
L "It might motivate some kid to stay in school," he observed.
OUR FRIENDS in Baltimore City's 43rd Legislative District keep predicting that tomorrow's election between incumbent state Sen. John A. Pica and challenger Martin O'Malley will be something to watch.
There's also a fierce battle over the district's three House of Delegates seats.
On a recent evening, we did some scouting around the neighborhoods to see how the sluggers were preparing for the big match.
Lots of lawn signs.
The front-runner, though, seems to be someone named "House for Sale."