Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of Public Affairs Weekly PressPac with news from ACS’ 34 peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News.
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Please cite the individual journal, or the American Chemical Society, as the source of this information.
Insecticides used in and around homes — including products voluntarily removed from the market years ago — were measured on the floors of U.S. residences, according to the first study large enough to generate national data on pesticide residues in homes. It is scheduled for the June 15 issue of ACS’ semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Many floors in U.S. homes have
measurable levels of pesticides,
Credit: Konrad A. Kociszewski,
Scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) collected samples with surface wipes from U.S. kitchen floors. Additionally, occupants were surveyed regarding pesticide use and housing factors. The most frequently detected pesticides, after permethrin (89 percent), were chlorpyrifos (78 percent); chlordane (74 percent); piperonyl butoxide (52 percent); cypermethrin (46 percent); and fipronil (40 percent). While in most cases, the pesticide concentrations measured were low, the insecticides may serve as a potential source of exposure to occupants.
Scientists launched the study to understand the frequency and concentration of pesticide residues that might be found in U.S. homes. EPA and HUD scientists plan to further investigate these findings and the study’s questionnaire results to explore the relationships between pesticide concentrations found in homes and housing factors (age of home, housing type, occupancy, etc.), geographical location, pet treatments, and recent home pesticide applications.
Scientists in Canada and India are proposing a surprising new solution to the global energy crisis —“milking” oil from the tiny, single-cell algae known as diatoms, renowned for their intricate, beautifully sculpted shells that resemble fine lacework. Their report appears online in the current issue of the ACS’ bi-monthly journal Industrial Engineering & Chemical Research.
Richard Gordon, T. V. Ramachandra, Durga Madhab Mahapatra, and Karthick Band note that some geologists believe that much of the world’s crude oil originated in diatoms, which produce an oily substance in their bodies. Barely one-third of a strand of hair in diameter, diatoms flourish in enormous numbers in oceans and other water sources. They die, drift to the seafloor, and deposit their shells and oil into the sediments. Estimates suggest that live diatoms could make 10−200 times as much oil per acre of cultivated area compared to oil seeds, Gordon says.
Microscopic diatoms like the one
shown above could yield massive
amounts of oil, scientists say.
Credit: The American Chemical Society
“We propose ways of harvesting oil from diatoms, using biochemical engineering and also a new solar panel approach that utilizes genetically modifiable aspects of diatom biology, offering the prospect of “milking” diatoms for sustainable energy by altering them to actively secrete oil products,” the scientists say. “Secretion by and milking of diatoms may provide a way around the puzzle of how to make algae that both grow quickly and have a very high oil content.”
Scientists in China are recommending that the Chinese government consider phasing out the direct burning of traditional chunks of coal in millions of households. It suggests that the government substitute coal briquettes and improved stoves for cooking and heating to help reduce the country’s high air pollution levels. The recommendation stems from one of the first scientific studies showing that this approach is effective in improving air quality, including a 98 percent reduction in air pollution from tiny, inhalable particles of coal soot. Their study is scheduled for the July 15 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.
In an effort to reduce China's high air
pollution levels, a new study recommends
increased use of coal briquettes (right) in
Chinese households instead of traditional
coal chunks for heating and cooking.
Credit: Yingjun Chen, Chinese Academy
In the new study, Yingjun Chen and colleagues note that government officials have said for years that coal briquettes and improved stoves with better ventilation may cut emissions, but few scientific studies have tested this claim. Millions of homes in rural China and other parts of the world burn raw coal chunks in small, low-efficiency stoves for cooking and heating. Studies indicate that emissions from incomplete coal combustion in these stoves contribute significantly to China’s serious air pollution levels — among the highest in the world.
The scientists compared emissions between traditional and improved stoves using either raw (unprocessed) coal chunks or coal briquettes. The briquettes consist of coal powder and clay and are molded into multihole columns. They found that burning briquettes in well-ventilated stoves dramatically reduced black carbon emissions by 98 percent and other emissions by more than 60 percent. The study concludes that this approach can bring about “explicit benefits in environment and health, together with possible gains in climate stabilization.”
Researchers in Japan are reporting new evidence that the ordinary vinegar — a staple in oil-and-vinegar salad dressings, pickles, and other foods — may live up to its age-old reputation in folk medicine as a health promoter. They are reporting new evidence that vinegar can help prevent accumulation of body fat and weight gain. Their study is scheduled for the July 8 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
Found in many salad dressings,
pickles, and other foods, vinegar
could help prevent accumulation
of body fat and weight gain,
Credit: Wikipedia Commons.
Tomoo Kondo and colleagues note in the new study that vinegar has also been used as a folk medicine since ancient times. People have used it for a range of ills. Modern scientific research suggests that acetic acid, the main component of vinegar, may help control blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and fat accumulation.
Their new study showed that laboratory mice fed a high-fat diet and given acetic acid developed significantly less body fat (up to 10 percent less) than other mice. Importantly, the new research adds evidence to the belief that acetic acid fights fat by turning on genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes. The genes churn out proteins involved in breaking down fats, thus suppressing body fat accumulation in the body.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to switch to a new generation of animal-free tests for predicting the toxicity of chemicals to humans, according to an article scheduled for the June 22 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.
C&EN associate editor Britt Erickson points out that there are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market, with about 700 more added each year. Over the next ten years, EPA plans to increasingly rely on so-called toxicity-based pathways to evaluate these substances.
This approach involves using human cell cultures to screen newly marketed chemicals for adverse effects. The new tests will produce results in a fraction of the time now required with animal studies.
But the switch won’t be easy, the C&EN article notes. Some experts question the validity of these next-generation tests. Meanwhile, new technologies for predicting toxicity may emerge and complement conventional animal tests, according to the article.
General science press releases on a variety of chemistry-related topics.
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PressPac information is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance PressPac information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
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