Chemistry

In the fight against HIV, microbicides, which are chemical compounds applied topically to the female genital tract to protect against sexually transmitted infections, are touted as an alternative to condoms.

There's just one problem. They don't work outside a petri dish. Clinical trials using microbicides have failed and a new study from the Gladstone Institutes and the University of Ulm finds that this may be due to the primary mode of transportation of the virus during sexual transmission, semen.


In hydraulic fracturing - fracking - a mixture of sand, water and chemicals is injected into deep wells to release fossil fuels. This has led to environmental corporation claims that the reduced emissions from natural gas are being offset environmentally by surfactants.

A surfactant is basically a detergent. It reduces the surface tension between water and oil, allowing for more oil to be extracted from porous rock underground. 

 A University of Colorado Boulder study has found there is little to fear. The surfactant chemicals found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes - including organic products.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning Whole Foods customers not to consume a line of organic raw almonds due to elevated levels of hydrogen cyanide (prussic acid/formonitrile - chemical formula HCN). Hydrogen cyanide is a natural toxic chemical that interferes with oxygen in our organs so it can quickly be fatal, but even in smaller exposure can be damaging to the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system and the pulmonary system.

Laundry detergent pods became popular 2010, because they are more precise than liquids or powder. Are they more dangerous than liquids or powder?



I'll have a clean cage with a side of fertility issues. Mouse image via www.shutterstock.com

By Anne-Marie Hodge, University of Wyoming

An organic compound called limonene provides the pleasant smell of cleaning products and air fresheners but some byproducts of these sweet-smelling compounds could be adding to the air while they remove germs and odors.

By cleaning your house, you could be adding smog and ozone to it. 


Researchers on an international team recently showed a way to quickly and reliably find the fastest way through a city maze. But rather than using a satellite navigation system, they used chemistry.

It needs a little work before UPS can use it, since the chemical processor was in alkaline liquid, bit it is intriguing proof of concept.

There are four factors to making the perfect cup of coffee. Credit: Andy Ciordia/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

By Don Brushett

It’s hard to get a bad coffee these days.

Plenty of baristas have fine-tuned the process of making espresso, but really there are only a handful of variables they can control:

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as water bottles, dental composites and resins used to line metal food and beverage containers. 

It is also used in thermal paper cash register receipts and a new paper finds that is cause for concern. BPA has not been found to be harmful by the Centers for Disease Control, they say levels from all sources is 1/1000th safe levels for the US, the EU and Canada, but it is controversial due to publicity by environmental groups and the guilt-by-association taint of endocrine disruption.  The FDA agrees.


Frying in oil is one of the world's most popular ways to prepare food — chicken and French-fried potatoes are staples but even candy bars and whole turkeys have joined the list of deep-friend goodness. 

Lots of oil make health claims but there is a whole range of physical, chemical and nutritional properties that can degrade oil quality when heated so a paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry  tested four different refined oils — olive, corn, soybean and sunflower — and reused the oil 10 times to determine which is truly the best.