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Living Today: Issues of modern living

By
ALEX CUKAN, United Press International

PLANTS MORE THAN AESTHETIC

Bringing living plants to a modern, sealed office building could save U.S. companies billions via contributions to improved indoor air quality, say researchers William J. Fisk and Arthur H. Rosenfeld of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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The Berkeley, Calif., researchers find U.S. companies could save as much as $58 billion annually by preventing sick-building illnesses, and an additional $200 billion in worker performance improvements by creating offices with better indoor air quality.

The same study verified 40 percent of all sick days are indoor air quality related. Former NASA scientist Dr. B.C. Wolverton says in a statement interior plants can reduce airborne molds in sealed office environments by 50 percent.


COMPANIES CRISIS MANAGEMENT PLANS

The American Management Association finds 51 percent of U.S. companies have no crisis management plans.

Even though some companies do have such plans, 85 percent of American companies still are unprepared to handle major crises, according to a report by business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information.

The report says for every $1 spent on crisis management programs, companies can save $7 in potential losses.

"The corporate brand is one of the most valuable assets a company has," says Cutting Edge Information Chief Executive Officer Jason Richardson in a statement. "Companies successful at weathering crises avoid tarnishing their brand image, and in some cases make it stronger."


AMERICANS EATING LESS FRUIT AND VEGETABLES

The Strive for Five campaign to get Americans to eat five fruit or vegetables daily has been around for a while, but a study by the Produce for Better Health Foundation finds just 1 in 5 Americans meet the daily required minimum.

The study finds 82 percent of women are more likely than men (69 percent) to fall short of the five-serving minimum; while 9 in 10 teen girls and 96 percent of kids ages 2-12 also fall short.

Fruit and vegetable consumption has declined nearly 14 percent over the past 10 years and for many consumers they are being replaced by high-calorie foods.

Bag salads and greens are among the only vegetables Americans are eating more of than before.


TEEN HOLIDAY SPENDING

In what could be a sign for the economy, fewer teens now receive an allowance than did last year, while teen plans for holiday spending appears to have leveled off.

A Junior Achievement poll of 1,201 teens nationwide says 41 percent of middle and high school students plan to spend less than $75 on presents this year, compared to 42 percent who said so last year.

On the higher end of teen spending, 36 percent of respondents say they will spend more than $125 on holiday gifts -- one of the few upward trends in the poll data. Last year it was 32 percent.

Perhaps more significantly, 68 percent of teens say they influence their parents buying decisions.

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