May 2010 Entries

Chemical Structure

“Chemical structure” is a phrase that is not often heard unless one is in a chemistry class. Yet, it is the specific arrangement of atoms in a molecule, its “structure,” that governs its properties. Most people have heard of benzene, a natural constituent of crude oil and a known carcinogen. (Benzine, a mixture of hydrocarbon molecules like gasoline is a different substance). Benzene has six carbon atoms bound in a hexagonal arrangement... [To read more click on Title]

Organophosphate Concerns

In 1939, Gerhard Schrader, a German chemist, was searching for better methods to control insects when he chanced upon a substance, chemically an organophosphate, that had greater insecticidal activity than anything he had ever seen. He named the new compound "Tabun" and envisioned a breakthrough for agriculture. Hitler, however, had something else in mind for the newly developed substance. If it could kill pests, it could also kill people... [To read more click on Title.]

Infamous Odours

My wife and I were walking our dog at about 8 pm in early May, well before it was dark. To our surprise we noted a large skunk foraging for food on the lawn of a neighbour. Fortunately, our dog was leashed and we were across the street, so we were in no danger of the “lethal” defensive spray of that infamous animal. There are 10 species of skunks in diverse places around the world and apparently all of them possess... [To read more click on Title.]

Dr. Nooth’s Apparatus

In the late 17th century "Dr. Nooth's Apparatus" for producing soda water was found in almost every well-to-do English household. It wasn’t the tingly bubbles that people were after, it was health! Naturally carbonated waters had long been believed to be healthy and it was common for people suffering from kidney stones, arthritis and "lack of vigor" to flock to spas to “partake of the waters.” But if you couldn't get to the source, you were out of luck. Until... [To read more click on Title.]

Are We Inhaling Carcinogens in Our Cars?

Everyone knows that driving car is a risky business but what about just getting into one? Especially on a hot day! And we’re not talking about burning your rear by depositing it on the plastic seat. It is in a more insidious way that the plastic seat, along with numerous other plastic components... [To read more click on Title.]

New Vaccine Treatment for Prostate Cancer

Vaccination may well be the most significant public health measure ever introduced. By stimulating the immune system, vaccines protect us against a host of viral and bacterial diseases. But now there’s hope that vaccines can do more than ward off diseases... [To read more click on Title.]

The Acrylamide Issue

A poster adorning the walls of KFC restaurants in California may just take your appetite away. Or at least make you consider giving up the fries. Here’s what it says: “Cooked potatoes that have been browned, such as French fries, baked potatoes and potato chips, contain acrylamide, a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer.” Is California really privy to some information that has eluded the rest of the world? [To read more click on Title.]