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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


Long stigmatized because of its “high”-inducing cousins, hemp — derived from low-hallucinogenic varieties of cannabis — is making a comeback, not just as a source of fiber for textiles, but also as a crop packed with oils that have potential health benefits. A new study, which appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, details just how many healthful compounds hempseed oil contains.


Maria Angeles Fernández-Arche and colleagues note that for millennia, people around the world cultivated cannabis for textiles, medicine and food. Hemp has high levels of vitamins A, C and E and beta carotene, and it is rich in protein, carbohydrates, minerals and fiber. In the early 20th century, many countries banned cannabis because some varieties contain large amounts of the high-inducing compound THC. And although Colorado recently legalized recreational marijuana use — and some states have passed medical marijuana laws — the drug remains illegal according to U.S. federal law. But the European Union has legalized growing low-THC versions of hemp, and it’s making its way back into fabrics and paper. With increasing interest in plant oils as a source of healthful compounds, Fernández-Arche’s team wanted to investigate hempseed oil’s potential.


They did a detailed analysis of a portion of hempseed oil. They found it has a variety of interesting substances, such as sterols, aliphatic alcohols and linolenic acids, that research suggests promote good health. For example, it contains α-linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 fatty acid that some studies suggest helps prevent coronary heart disease. The findings could have implications in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and non-food industries, they state.


"Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Seed Oil: Analytical and Phytochemical Characterization of the Unsaponifiable Fraction"


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.

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Credit: American Chemical Society

 

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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


Many U.S. cities are taking steps to grow urban centers in an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But a challenge is the significant carbon footprint of spacious suburban living, which in many areas, may be cancelling out these efforts. The report, appearing in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that about half of the country’s household carbon footprint comes from people living in the suburbs.

 

Christopher Jones and Daniel M. Kammen point out that U.S. households, though they only comprise 4.3 percent of the global population, are responsible for about 20 percent of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, which are driving climate change. In response, many governors and mayors across the country have pledged to reduce their states’ and cities’ emissions. But more information on the size and composition of household carbon footprints is needed to inform policies to make these reductions happen. A few studies have helped fill in some gaps, but they’re mostly small in scale and not broadly applicable. Jones and Kammen set out to paint a bigger picture.

 

They built an analytic model using national survey data to estimate average household carbon footprints for over 30,000 zip codes and 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 U.S. states. Their technique integrates a wide range of sectors, including transportation, household energy use and consumption of food, goods and services. The researchers found a number of surprising nuances. For example, Jones and Kammen found that population-dense suburbs have significantly higher carbon footprints on average than lower density suburbs, and there is a huge range across cities. As a result, they conclude that “an entirely new approach of highly tailored, community-scale carbon management is urgently needed.”  They have developed communication and estimation tools for public use at http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/maps and http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/carboncalculator.

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the California Air Resources Board and the National Science Foundation.


“Spatial Distribution of U.S. Household Carbon Footprints Reveals Suburbanization Undermines GHG Benefits of Urban Population Density”

 

Click herehttp://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es4034364for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Credit: Pavel Losevsky/iStock/Thinkstock


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


For some people, nothing can top a morsel of luxuriously rich, premium chocolate. But until now, other than depending on their taste buds, chocolate connoisseurs had no way of knowing whether they were getting what they paid for. In ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists are reporting, for the first time, a method to authenticate the varietal purity and origin of cacao beans, the source of chocolate’s main ingredient, cocoa.

 

Dapeng Zhang and colleagues note that lower-quality cacao beans often get mixed in with premium varieties on their way to becoming chocolate bars, truffles, sauces and liqueurs. But the stakes for policing the chocolate industry are high. It’s a multi-billion dollar global enterprise, and in some places, it’s as much art as business. There’s also a conservation angle to knowing whether products are truly what confectioners claim them to be. The ability to authenticate premium and rare varieties would encourage growers to maintain cacao biodiversity rather than depend on the most abundant and easiest to grow trees. Researchers have found ways to verify through genetic testing the authenticity of many other crops, including cereals, fruits, olives, tea and coffee, but those methods aren’t suitable for cacao beans. Zhang’s team wanted to address this challenge.

 

Applying the most recent developments in cacao genomics, they were able to identify a small set of DNA markers called SNPs (pronounced “snips”) that make up unique fingerprints of different cacao species. The technique works on single cacao beans and can be scaled up to handle large samples quickly. “To our knowledge, this is the first authentication study in cacao using molecular markers,” the researchers state.

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a financial gift from the Lindt and Sprüngli chocolate company through the World Cocoa Foundation.


“Accurate Determination of Genetic Identity for a Single Cacao Bean, Using Molecular Markers with a Nanofluidic System, Ensures Cocoa Authentication”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Credit: Cindy Xiao/iStock/Thinkstock


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


Nearly 10 years after the term “nature deficit disorder” entered the nation’s vocabulary, research is showing for the first time that green space does appear to improve mental health in a sustained way. The report, which appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, gives urban park advocates another argument in support of their cause.


Mathew P. White and colleagues note that mental well-being is a major public health issue, with unipolar depressive disorder the leading cause of disability in middle- to high-income countries. Some research suggests that part of the blame for this unhappiness lies in increased urbanization — nearly 80 percent of the world’s population in more developed regions live in city environments, which tend to have little room for nature. Other studies suggest a link between happiness and green space, but no research had convincingly established cause and effect of nature on well-being over time. To help fill that gap, White’s team decided to examine the issue.

 

To figure out if nature makes people feel better in the long run, they compared the mental health of hundreds of people in the U.K. who went from a grey urban setting to a greener one with those who moved in the opposite direction. Mental health data showed that the people who moved to greener areas were happier during all three years that their health was tracked after relocating. “Moving to greener urban areas was associated with sustained mental health improvements, suggesting that environmental policies to increase urban green space may have sustainable public health benefits,” the researchers conclude.

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.


"Longitudinal Effects on Mental Health of Moving to Greener and Less Green Urban Areas"


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Credit: Sergey Borisov/iStock/Thinkstock


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


In the quest to shrink motors so they can maneuver in tiny spaces like inside and between human cells, scientists have taken inspiration from millions of years of plant evolution and incorporated, for the first time, corkscrew structures from plants into a new kind of helical “microswimmer.” The low-cost development, which appears in ACS’ journal Nano Letters, could be used on a large scale in targeted drug delivery and other applications.


Joseph Wang and colleagues point out that nanomotors have tremendous potential in diverse applications from delivering drugs to precise locations in the body to making biosensors. To realize this potential, scientists have recently taken inspiration from microorganisms that have tiny, hair-like structures that they whip around to propel themselves. But copying these nature-engineered nanomotors requires advanced instruments and costly processing techniques that make them a challenge to produce on a large scale. To address these issues of practicality, Wang’s group also drew inspiration from nature, but turned to plants instead.


They isolated spiral microstructures packed by the million in small pieces of a plant’s stem. The scientists coated these tiny coils that are about the width of a fine cotton fiber with thin layers of titanium and magnetic nickel. The plant material makes these microswimmers biodegradable and less likely to be rejected by the human body. The magnetic layer allows scientists to control the motors’ movement. When the scientists placed the coated spirals in water or human blood serum and applied a magnetic field, the nanomotors efficiently spun their way through the liquids. The scientists conclude that the microswimmers show great promise for future biomedical uses.


The authors acknowledge funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency-Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense.

 

“Bioinspired Helical Microswimmers Based on Vascular Plants”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Credit: fotofermer/iStock/Thinkstock


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