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ACS in the News - January 29, 2010

ACS in the News - January 29, 2010

'ACS in the News' publishes daily articles from newspapers, blogs and magazines about the American Chemical Society and its 38 peer-reviewed journals. Click on the links below to view the published article. Full-text articles can also be found in the attached document at the bottom of the page.

BBC News (London, England: 55 million monthly unique users)

“Ginkgo biloba's epilepsy seizures warning”

January 29, 2010

People with epilepsy should be warned that using a popular herbal remedy may increase the risk of seizures, researchers say. German scientists, writing in the Journal of Natural Products, said they had found 10 written reports of seizures linked to ginkgo biloba. They said they were convinced the herb could have a "detrimental effect". A leading UK epilepsy charity said the evidence was not yet compelling, although it said care was needed. Ginkgo biloba remedies - made from the leaves of the tree of the same name - is used by many thousands of people in the UK as a remedy for health problems ranging from depression and memory loss, to headaches and dizziness.

Daily Kos (Berkeley, Calif.: 2.5 million monthly unique users)

“Amer. Chem. Soc. editor supports carbon tax, not cap & trade”

January 28, 2010

This is actually a pretty big development in the discussion of Cap & Trade vs. Carbon Tax to rein in our country's emissions of greenhouse gases. In a January 11, 2010 editorial in the American Chemical Society's weekly magazine, Chemical & Engineering News, Editor-in-chief Rudy Baum has this to say: H.R. 2454, the 1,200-page climate-change and energy legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June 2009 that establishes a CO2 cap-and-trade system, should be put out of its misery in favor of a simple carbon tax. Cap-and-trade is a sop to the coal, petroleum, and other energy-intensive industries; it does nothing but muddle the very simple need to put a price on carbon on which industry can base its capital-spending decisions. A carbon tax accomplishes that goal simply and efficiently. This is the Editor-in-chief of the main publication of the American Chemical Society (ACS) speaking so, while it's not the official position of the ACS, it is a significant statement that carries a good deal of weight.

United Press International (Washington D.C.: 2 million monthly unique users)

“Old dental fillings unlikely to be toxic”

January 28, 2010

Older mercury-based dental fillings -- amalgams -- contain a form of mercury that scientists say is unlikely to be toxic, Canadian researchers say. Graham George of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and colleagues note that these amalgams have been used by dentists to repair teeth for well over a century. George said that in recent decades use of these type of fillings have become controversial because of concerns about exposure to potentially toxic mercury. However, mercury can potentially exist in several different chemical forms, each with a different toxicity. The study is published online in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

The Medical News (Sydney, Australia: 432,100 monthly unique users)

“Pretreating BPA plastic may be the key to dispose waste in an eco-friendly way”

January 29, 2010

Just as cooking helps people digest food, pretreating polycarbonate plastic - source of a huge environmental headache because of its bisphenol A (BPA) content - may be the key to disposing of the waste in an eco-friendly way, scientists have found. Their new study is in ACS' Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal. Mukesh Doble and Trishul Artham note that manufacturers produce about 2.7 million tons of plastic containing BPA each year. The scientists pretreated polycarbonate with ultraviolet light and heat and exposed it to three kinds of fungi - including the fabled white-rot fungus, used commercially for environmental remediation of the toughest pollutants. The scientists found that fungi grew better on pretreated plastic, using its BPA and other ingredients as a source of energy and breaking down the plastic.

Science Daily (Rockville, Md.: 3.6 million monthly unique users)

“How Many Argon Atoms Can Fit on the Surface of a Carbon Nanotube?”

January 29, 2010

Phase transitions -- changes of matter from one state to another without altering its chemical makeup -- are an important part of life in our three-dimensional world. Water falls to the ground as snow, melts to a liquid and eventually vaporizes back to the clouds to begin the cycle anew. Now a team of scientists has devised a new way to explore how such phase transitions function in less than three dimensions and at the level of just a few atoms. They hope the technique will be useful to test aspects of what until now has been purely theoretical physics, and they hope it also might have practical applications for sensing conditions at very tiny scales, such as in a cell membrane. They worked with single-walled carbon nanotubes, extremely thin, hollow graphite structures that can be so tiny that they are nearly one-dimensional, to study the phase transition behavior of argon and krypton atoms. The work was funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, the UW Royalty Research Fund and the UW University Initiatives Fund.

Gizmag (St. Kilda, Australia: 948,800 monthly unique users)

“Rubber sheets harness body movement to power electrical devices”

January 27, 2010

Engineers from Princeton University have developed power-generating rubber films that could be used to harness natural body movements such as breathing or walking in order to power electronic devices such as pacemakers or mobile phones. The material, which is composed of ceramic nanoribbons embedded onto silicone rubber sheets, generates electricity when flexed and is highly efficient at converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. Its developers say shoes made of the material could harvest the pounding of walking or running to power mobile electrical devices and, when placed against the lungs, sheets of the material could use the raising and falling breathing motions of the chest to power pacemakers. A paper on the new material, titled "Piezoelectric Ribbons Printed onto Rubber for Flexible Energy Conversion," was published online Jan. 26, in Nano Letters.

… From the Blogs

Science Centric (Sofia, Bulgaria: 15,000 monthly unique users)

“Clean and green: Supermarket shelves awash in eco-friendly laundry detergents”

January 28, 2010

Laundry detergent manufacturers are rolling out a new generation of products aimed at making cleaning more efficient and environmentally friendly, according to an article in the current issue of Chemical and Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine. C&EN Assistant Managing Editor Michael McCoy points out in the cover story that this trend in innovative fabric cleaning products is occurring despite a rocky economy in 2009, which led to sales declines for premium laundry products such as Tide.

Chemical Online

“Response To The 2010 State Of The Union Address: ACS Urges President Obama To Continue Strong Suppo...

January 29, 2010

"The American Chemical Society commends President Obama for his continued commitment to advance an ambitious set of policies on education, science and technology, and energy. We welcome the President's announcement of $4B in additional investment in education this year, including $1.35B in additional funding for the Race to the Top initiative, which is strongly focused on improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. We also appreciate his willingness to pursue a bi-partisan approach to the much-needed reauthorization process for the No Child Left Behind education law.” Comments by Joseph S. Francisco, Ph.D. President, American Chemical Society