Chemistry

Toxic Cloud In Spain Caused By Rocket Fuel

A toxic orange cloud hanging over Igualada was caused when two chemicals being delivered to the Simar S.A. storage facility were accidentally mixed.
With Valentine's Day this weekend, we will be treated to articles called things 'the science of kissing', 'the science of love', 'the science of attraction' - you name it and someone in the social sciences is capitalizing on the fuzzy nature of romance to attract some eyeballs. 

Love at first sight has long been discussed but is there love at first smell?


Can you get love in a spray bottle? Kate Upton is going to be around a lot of smelly men this week, if so. Credit: The American Chemical Society

Both the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently released assessments that strongly support the safety of bisphenol A (BPA). 

Wine has gotten more than its share of Miracle Product mainstream media coverage so it's no surprise that beer has been left behind - smooth, balanced beers, the kind of thing that made large brands famous, are out of fashion and now everyone wants hoppy drinks, or something else wildly exaggerated.

But beer has always been a science favorite. Sometimes you hear of breakthroughs being celebrated with a bottle of Mogen David, though it is rare.
Coating the mouth with foods stored in containers that used bisphenol A (BPA), like soup, does not lead to high levels of BPA in blood.

BPA is used to make some plastics and to seal canned food containers against bacterial contamination. Food which picks up trace amounts of BPA from packaging is the major source of human exposure, according to environmental critics, and the health concerns about BPA center on potential to mimic certain hormones at really high exposures.

Phthalates are chemicals that increase the softness and flexibility of plastic.  Due to concerns about potential health problems, the US government has permanently banned three types of phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP)1 in any amount greater than 0.1 percent for each phthalate in children's toys and for some child care items used for toddlers ages 3 and under.

Manufacturers have been turning to alternative plasticizers, which are different phthalates, but outside the ordinary approval process little is known about the toxicity of the replacements or whether they can enter the air infants breathe for 12 to 14 hours per day at potentially harmful levels.

Since infants breathe in far more air given their low body weights than adults, Ying Xu and Yirui Liang


Do consumers make different choices based on the fragrance surrounding them?  If they do not, a billion dollar advertising segment would disappear. Studies have found, for example, that lavender is the fragrance of trust and groups are always working to improve the ambiance of the marketplace. 

A new study in the Journal of Marketing says that the “temperature” of scents in a store atmosphere may have a powerful effect on what and how much customers buy. So if you want people to spend money, spread the cinnamon around.
It's become a fad for nutritionists to claim that oranges are better than orange juice, and they list numerous reasons - from added sugar in juice to better uptake of carotenoids, flavonoids and Vitamin C in whole oranges.

But how different are they? Unless you are someone on a nutrition website selling the lifestyle and health fad of the moment, not much. It is true that some juices have more sugar but that is offset by the biological fact nutrients in orange juice seem to be easier for the body to absorb from juice than when a person consumes them from unprocessed fruit. 

And there is convenience. It is better to have a health benefit from something than no health benefit at all.


By Ian Musgrave, Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide.

A paper has just been released that will raise health concerns about Bisphenol A again. The paper, “Low-dose exposure to bisphenol A and replacement bisphenol S induces precocious hypothalamic neurogenesis in embryonic zebrafish” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This is a very interesting paper, but in terms of implications for human health everything hinges on what “low dose” means.