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Agriculture Department May Have Preventative for Poison Ivy

August 5, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Smokey the Bear’s buddies in the Forest Service have invented a spray-on chemical that prevents poison ivy from turning campers’ skin into a mass of itchy, painful welts.

The product, called Ivy Block, was developed in five years by the Agriculture Department’s equipment development center in Missoula, Mont. A private company may be ready to distribute it commercially by the end of the year, Jay Humphreys, a Forest Service spokesman, said Monday.

Humphreys said the distributor, United Catalyst Co. of Louisville, Ky., already manufactures organoclay, a common ingredient in antiperspirants, which is the poison ivy stopper.

Jim Stevens of the Forest Service’s safety and health office said thousands of the agency’s employees come into contact with poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac every day. Last summer, he said, more than 400 employees received medical treatment for severe cases of poison ivy.

″What we did was come up with a way to prevent poison ivy, not cure it,″ said Jerry Oltman, who headed the research effort. ″We concentrated on finding some way to prevent urushiol, the substance in poison ivy sap that causes the rash, from contacting the skin.″

The breakthrough came when it was found that organoclay would absorb urushiol. The Forest Service researchers put organoclay in a pressurized can so it could be sprayed directly on the skin.

″What Ivy Block does is prevent urushiol from bonding with the skin by setting up a harmless barrier that lasts for about 24 hours,″ Oltman said in a report issued by the agency. ″For most people, this is sufficient protection against poison ivy.″

Oltman said the product also works when sprayed on clothing and tools that frequently come into contact with poison ivy.

″Four-ounce aerosol cans of Ivy Block have been distributed to hundreds of Forest Service employees for their use this summer, and as a result we hope we’ll see a major decrease in health problems resulting from poison ivy,″ he said.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Changes in the exchange rate seem to be an important reason for a climb in imports of pork from Canada and Denmark, an Agriculture Department report says.

Domestic hog prices weakened in recent years, but because of the changes in money values a different picture has emerged for foreign producers. When converted to the Danish kroner, the U.S. price surged in 1984, about the same time that U.S. imports of Danish pork increased.

″In early 1985, in addition to the weakening dollar, the EC (European Community) cut export subsidies on pork exported to the United States,″ the report said. ″These factors probably are the main reason Danish pork imports slipped from their early pace as 1985 progressed.″

Ten years ago almost all pork imports into the United States were canned, but in 1985 only half were, the report said. Imports of fresh and frozen pork, meanwhile, rose from 12,000 metric tons in 1977 to 255,000 tons in 1985.

While most of the fresh and frozen pork increase has come from Canada, Denmark also has shipped more. Imports of prepared pork rose from 123,000 tons in 1977 to 169,000 tons last year, mostly because of the larger Danish shipments, which rose to 85,000 tons.

Imports of Canadian pork and live hogs rose rapidly last year, but countervailing duties were imposed on hogs, and those have begun to decline, the report said.

″At the time hog imports rose, the Canadian dollar was weakening rapidly against the U.S. dollar,″ the report said. ″Moreover, the difference between the exchange-rate-weighted Canadian and U.S. hog prices widened, the strikes and plant closings plagued the industry, and it became more profitable for Canadians to market their hogs in the United States.″

Pork exports, meanwhile, dropped last year by 22 percent, with the largest declines in sales to Japan and Canada.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Production of butter and other dairy products has moved down from year-earlier levels, according to Agriculture Department statisticians.

In June, according to preliminary figures issued Monday, butter output was estimated at 92 million pounds, down 4 percent from June 1985.

American-type cheese, at 262 million pounds, was down 2 percent from a year earlier, and non-fat dry milk output declined 4 percent to 137 million pounds.

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