Chemicals and Environment

I am lucky enough to spend the holidays in one of the most beautiful places in the United States - the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

Surrounded by stunning natural beauty on all sides - it is incredibly cold, the roads are covered in ice, and the living is uncomplicated. But, when something does happen - such as 50-year-old toxic waste from the ivy league institution down the road creeping into people's backyards - it is big (BIG) news up here.

And, that is exactly the story that the neighbors of Dartmouth College are trying to bring everyone's attention.

My first experience in a lab was also at an ivy league institution, and stories were commonly shared by senior faculty about the 'good old days' in the 60s and 70s when they would smoke cigars in the lab. But,...

A new report dredges up some environmental myths about flame retardants and then says poor people are most at risk - but it could really mean poor people aren't scaremongered by epidemiologists in academia as easily as everyone else, even if it's due to economic necessity that government-funded university employees only witness in the abstract.

In 2016, there is no reason to defend the brominated flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) - they are already banned in various states, like California. Which makes it even stranger that a paper in Environmental Science & Technology invokes them as a possible...well, no one knows if they are a possible anything, the authors just...

By Jeanna Bryner, Live Science

Four new chemical elements now have official names and symbols, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) announced this week.

After a five-month review, IUPAC chemists have approved the four names for superheavy elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 proposed by the elements' discoverers. Such superheavy elements, whose atomic numbers indicate how many protons reside in each nucleus, don't occur naturally in nature, so they must be created in labs.

Following tradition, the names needed to honor a place, geographic region or scientist, with the name endings following specific protocols related to each element's placement on the ...

Hand sanitizers are ubiquitous. They are used by staff in hospitals, and many people keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in their bags or purses. The active ingredient is often some kind of alcohol, such as isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) or ethanol (the drinkable kind).

New research published in the American Journal of Infection Control suggests that professionals who administer breath alcohol tests should stay away from sanitizers that contain ethanol, as they can cause breathalyzers to produce a false positive result.

The research team performed a series of breathalyzer tests on ten volunteers with an Alco-Sensor III, a device approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation and law...

There isn't a fringe movement that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr doesn't like. He appears to subscribe to conspiracy theories involving the assassination of his uncle, JFK. Along with Bill Maher, he is one of the most prominent anti-vaxxers in America. He went so far as to compare vaccine manufacturers to Big Tobacco. Now, Mr Kennedy is...

It is well documented that cigarette smoke causes lung cancer, but giving up nicotine still proves to be the most challenging part of quitting cigarettes. 

Of all the available smoking cessation aides, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have gained the most popularity - likely because they are designed to simulate the cigarette-smoking experience.  E-cigarettes are battery operated wands that contain liquid nicotine, which when heated, emit an aerosol that can be inhaled (vaped). 

Due to the relatively short history of e-cigarettes, there are some unanswered questions about their long-term health safety.  Studies up to this point have suggested that vaping is safer than smoking because it does not expose a person to the inhaled toxins found in cigarette smoke that can...

In the 1970s, an assay was developed by Dr. Bruce Ames that revolutionized the ability to test if a compound causes cancer or not.

Since then, the Ames test has been used on everything from food dyes to pesticides. The power of the Ames test is not only that it is incredibly efficacious, but also that it is inexpensive and relatively easy to do. 

The test is based on a brilliant observation made by Dr. Ames. He realized that there is a strong linkage between the ability to cause mutations in DNA and the ability to cause cancer. To simplify what is an incredibly complicated process, the more mutations that something creates (or, the more mutagenic it is) the more...

All things being equal, it's my belief that avid golfers and plant pathologists normally don't have a whole lot in common. Coming from different worlds, their interests likely intersect with the frequency of a hole-in-one, at best.

However, in at least one instance when they did, the collaboration was as rewarding as watching a laser-like, fairway drive finding the green and coming to rest on the edge of the cup. And after an easy tap in, it was another crowd-pleasing win for science.

Researchers recently became interested in the short-cut grasses of several golf courses in the southeastern U.S. when superintendents from several states began noticing dark, stain-like patches that they've never seen before. And unable to identify them, course caretakers did not know which...

Many natural remedies do not work. Despite those who swear by herbal medicines and other traditions that stretch back, in some cases, thousands of years, modern science often cannot verify the claimed benefits. But that isn't always the case. Occasionally, scientists confirm that a traditional remedy indeed does work, and one such example has been reported recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Native Americans who burned sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) tended to do so for ceremonial purposes. However, some had a more practical use in mind. Two groups of Native Americans, the Flatheads of Montana and the Blackfoot of Alberta, used sweetgrass as an insect repellent. They did so by burning the grass and allowing the smoke to saturate their...

The Environmental Protection Agency is punting a final decision on the safety of the controversial weedkiller glyphosate to the next administration.

Since 2009, the agency has been conducting a registration review of glyphosate, one of the world most widely-used herbicides, and evaluating any risk to human and environmental health, an assessment required every 15 years.

The lengthy process has been fraught with delays, accusations of political maneuvering and even Congressional investigations.

Under questioning by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in June, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy assured lawmakers the review would be finished this...