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Majority Believes U.S. Should Gain U.N. Support Before Starting War


A majority of Americans believe the United States should work to gain the support of the U.N. Security Council even if it means delaying war with Iraq, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that 56 percent of the public is willing to wait in order to win U.N. endorsement of U.S.-led military strikes against Iraq. Another 39 percent said the United States should “move quickly,” even without the Security Council’s backing.

Overall support for taking military action against Iraq stands at 63 percent, down slightly from 66 percent in a Post-ABC poll conducted two weeks ago. Half the country continues to believe the United States should move against Hussein even over the objections of the United Nations, unchanged from earlier this month. A majority -- 57 percent -- would favor taking action without the approval of the United Nations if this country had the support of key allies such as Britain, Australia and Italy.

President Bush’s overall job approval rating, which rose after his State of the Union address last month, has returned to its pre-speech level. Currently, 60 percent favorably view Bush’s performance as president, down from 64 percent in a Post-ABC poll conducted two weeks ago.

Approval of Bush’s handling of the Iraq situation has dropped six points, to 55 percent, since early February.

While criticism mounts for the president’s handling of Iraq, there is even more skepticism of the United Nations. Fifty-six percent of those interviewed said they disapproved of the way it was dealing with Iraq and Hussein, while 38 percent said they approved.

A total of 1,024 randomly selected adults were interviewed Feb. 19-23 for this national telephone survey. Margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Report on Children’s Exposure To Pollutants Mixed


The exposure of American children to several harmful pollutants is declining, but asthma rates among children are increasing, the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday. It said there is a “growing concern” about exposure to mercury by women of child-bearing age that could lead to adverse health consequences for any children they bear.

In its report, “America’s Children and the Environment,” the EPA said minority children and children from low-income families suffer a disproportionate share of diseases linked to the environment.

The report’s findings on mercury exposure are likely to among the most closely scrutinized because of an ongoing debate in Congress over how best to curb air pollution. The report said the nation’s main source of mercury emissions is the burning of coal, mostly at electric power plants. President Bush has proposed legislation that would require a 50 percent reduction in those emissions by 2010, and a 70 percent reduction by 2018. Some environmental groups consider that pace too slow, while some industry groups consider it too ambitious.

According to the report, about 8 percent of U.S. women of child-bearing age -- ages 16 to 49 -- have at least 5.8 parts per billion of mercury in their blood, the level at which EPA says there is an increased risk of adverse health effects to children in the womb. Slightly more than half of U.S. women have mercury levels of zero to 1 part per billion in the blood, the report said.

Ramona Trovato, EPA’s deputy assistant administrator for environmental information, called the finding a “snapshot” because the agency has not previously reported mercury levels in women of child-bearing age.

“We don’t have trends,” she said. “We don’t know if this is going up or down, but we plan to report on that.”