Are Chemical Dispersants Toxic?

Several groups filed a lawsuit on Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its rules on the use of chemical dispersants to clean up oil spills, claiming that they do not meet clean water requirements. They basically claim that the current dispersants merely replace the oil in the water with a different polluting chemical.

The lawsuit is based upon the fact that the EPA has not published any schedule to identify when and where the dispersants such as Polyacrylic Acid Sodium (PAAS, the CAS number is 9003-04-7) can be used, and in what quantities.

It is common knowledge that oil spills are harmful to the environment, yet in the rush to clean them up we could be doing more damage; at least that is what certain environmental groups fear. During the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 more than 1.8 million gallons of chemicals were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico without knowing the true extent of any toxic effects it might have on the environment.

It really would be a shocking revelation to find that in cleaning up the oil spills the companies are actually adding to the pollution, and that the EPA has almost been turning a blind eye to it. Environmental groups also sued the EPA and US Coast Guard back in Aril over the unknown effects of dispersants on endangered species. Maybe more attention should be paid to the effects of cleaning up oil spills, rather than concentrating fully on the oil spill itself.

Natural Home Cleaning


If you’re trying to reduce the level of toxic chemicals in your life, you’ve probably considered “going green” with your cleaning method. The interest in natural cleaning products has grown substantially in the last 20 years and has spawned a competitive industry. As in other “green” areas, a .,bandwagon effect has inspired some conventional companies to bring out lines that. are fragrance free.


A natural cleaning agent is made of organic matter, either from an animal, plant or mineral, as opposed to synthetic agents that are usually based on petroleum. They contain no harmful ingredients such as perchloroethylene and toluene, which are both considered human carcinogens.  Switching to natural products is not just better for the environment, doing so can have real health benefits for you and your family. Planet Green reports that there are 17,000 petrochemicals available as home cleaning supplies, only 30 percent of which have been tested for human and environmental safety.


Vinegar works best for cleaning surfaces and glass, while baking soda will scour tubs, de-grease ovens and lift carpet odors. These ingredients are biodegradable in the sense that their components do not harm the environment when they are incorporated back into the food chain. There is no lingering “fresh” odor, which is important to people with fragrance allergies. Also, they do not produce harmful fumes, chemical burns or nausea from accidental contact, and they do not impact the central nervous system.


Home Products
Both vinegar and baking soda work as very versatile green cleaners that can clean almost anything. The main difference between a commercially available natural cleaning product and a homemade cleaning solution is the lack of surfactants. Vinegar works best for cleaning surfaces and glass, while baking soda will scour tubs, de-grease ovens and lift carpet odors. Mix either substance with warm water to make an all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner.


In fact, you can mix baking soda, vinegar, borax, washing soda, essential oils and soap to effectively clean and deodorize your entire house. When you have dry cleaning, take it to a “green cleaner” who doesn’t use Perchloroethylene (C2Cl4 and the CAS number is 127-18-4), also called perc. If you do take your clothes to a conventional dry cleaner, air them outdoors before wearing or storing them.


Many dish soaps are made with phosphates, which can increase algae growth in our waterways. If you’re worried about your indoor air, don’t use a commercial air filter. Instead, get a broad-leaf green plant to filter the air naturally, and open the windows when you can.  

Curcumin May Treat Alzheimer

More than 5 million people in the U.S. currently live with Alzheimer’s disease. And according to the Alz-heimer’s Association, the situation is only going to get worse.

Pharmaceutical companies have invested heavily in developing Alzheimer’s drugs, many of which target amyloid-β, a peptide that misfolds and clumps in the brains of patients. But so far, no amyloid-β-targeted medications have been successful. Expectation for the most advanced drugs—bapineu-zumab from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson and solanezumab from Eli Lilly & Co.—are low on the basis of lackluster data from midstage clinical trials. That sentiment was reinforced last week when bapineuzumab was reported to have failed the first of four Phase III studies.

Gregory M. Cole, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. These drugs “would cost patients tens of thousands of dollars per year,” he estimates. That hefty price tag stems from bapineuzumab and solanezumab being costly-to-manufacture monoclonal antibodies against amyloid-β.

By 2050, the nonprofit estimates, up to 16 million Americans will have the memory-robbing disease. It will cost the U.S. $1.1 trillion annually to care for them unless a successful therapy is found.

“There’s a great need for inexpensive Alzheimer’s treatments,” as well as a backup plan if pharma fails, says Larry W. Baum, a professor in the School of Pharmacy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. As a result, he says, a great many researchers have turned their attention to less pricy alternatives, such as compounds from plants and other natural sources.

Curcumin, a spice compound derived from the rootstalk of the turmeric plant (Curcuma longa), has stood out among some of the more promising naturally derived candidates. In addition to contributing to curry dishes’ yellow color and pungent flavor, curcumin has been a medicine in India for thousands of years. Doctors practicing traditional Hindu medicine admire turmeric’s active ingredient for its anti-inflammatory properties and have used it to treat patients for ailments including digestive disorders and joint pain.

When administered to mice that develop Alzheimer’s symptoms, curcumin decreases inflammation and reactive oxygen species in the rodents’ brains, researchers have found. The compound also inhibits the aggregation of troublesome amyloid-β strands among the animals’ nerve cells. But the development of curcumin as an Alzheimer’s drug has been stymied, scientists say, both by its low uptake in the body and a lack of funds for effective clinical trials—obstacles researchers are now trying to overcome.

Breast Milk Contains Carcinogenic Solvent

For the first time, researchers have reported levels of the industrial solvent trichloroethylene in human milk. The solvent is the most frequently reported organic contaminant in groundwater in the U.S. Experts say the levels found in the research don’t raise immediate concerns, but that the results warrant further study.

Between 1988 and 2008, factories cut TCE releases to the environment from 49 million to 3.6 million pounds annually. But from the 1950s until the early 1990s, workers at plants commonly dumped waste TCE on the ground or in unlined holding ponds, where it leached into groundwater. As a result, about 60% of hazardous waste sites across the nation contain TCE, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.


U.S. manufacturers produce over 300 million pounds of trichloroethylene (TCE, the CAS No. is 79-01-6) per year, which often is used to strip grease from metal parts. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies TCE as a carcinogen. Researchers detected TCE in breast milk in the 1980s, but did not report the levels of the solvent. Previous studies have linked exposure to the solvent to a range of health problems, including multiple myeloma and lupus, says Paloma Beamer, an environmental engineer at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and lead author of the new study.

So Beamer and her team recruited 20 breast-feeding mothers from Nogales, Ariz., which has groundwater contaminated by TCE. Mothers provided breast milk samples and the researchers measured concentration of TCE in the milk using gas chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry. She agrees and notes that breast-feeding provides benefits for babies’ health.

Slop Oil Basics

Slop oil usually consists of complex emulsions of oil and water, along with substantial quantities of abrasive solids and other particles that derived from a wide variety of sources in refineries or oil fields.

They come from drainages, residues and cleaning processes, especially cleaning oil tank bottoms. Most of these slop oils contain a high percentage of oil which can be mixed with crude oil to be processed in the refinery. It can have very different compositions. The oil content, just like the proportion of water, can fluctuate from 10 to 90 percent. The proportion of solids can also vary from one to ten percent, depending on source.

Refineries around the world produce nearly ten million barrels of unusable oil each year. Add to that the annual worldwide well production of “Tank Bottoms/Sludge” which is a by product of its fields. Tank bottoms may also accumulate in tanks used for storage of fuels such as gasoline, fuel oil or diesel and jet fuel. There is no tank in the world without bottoms. This environmental problems associated present a severe costly disposal and treatment problem.

If this slop oil is treated, not only disposal costs can be reduced but profit can also
be generated with it phase recovered from the slop. As the oil as well as water
content can vary from 10 to 90 percent and the solid content can vary from 1 to 10 percent either disk stack centrifuges or decanters can be used for the treatment of it.

Traditional methods use costly chemicals to treat this problem. Most oil goes untreated and is disposed of in waste pits scattered around the world. Some of these waste pits are extremely large and can exceed 250,000 barrels. Waste pits are known to contaminate local groundwater and cause unwanted health problems if found to contain Arsenic, Barium, Cadium, Chromium, Lead, Selenium and Benzene. All attempts to treat these tank bottoms use either chemical or thermal treatments resulting in a more unwanted water solid mixture left behind. This “Dead Oil” presents an even more difficult challenge.

The first requirement of a profitable slop oil recovery system is the speed and efficiently that it can separate the three phases. The second is that it is works well enough to sever the closely bound emulsion and separate the smallest particles. Slop-oil or waste oil must go through purification in order to be used as fuel in waste oil fired boilers or incinerators, or be sold to refineries. Purification is carried out in several steps involving the removal of solids and water.

What Are The Uses of Zircon?

Zircon is a semiprecious brittle stone found around the world that is located in metamorphic, sedimentary and igneous rocks. As the oldest stone on earth, it was once considered an alternative for the diamond. Ground into fine sands, it also has industrial uses in the manufacture of ceramics, glass, metals and chemicals.

As the ICA states, “Hindu poets tell of the Kalpa Tree, the ultimate gift to the gods, a
glowing tree covered in gemstone fruit with leaves of zircon.” The oldest known object on earth is a tiny zircon that was located in Western Australia and is 4.404 billion years old, claims the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA). The name is believed to have come from the Persian word zargun, which means “gold-colored” or jargoon, which is the name given to certain varieties of the substance.

Its chemical name is zirconium silicate and its corresponding chemical formula is
ZrSiO4. It is a neosilicate, meaning that it is a silicate mineral that has isolated SiO4 tetrahedra, which are only connected through ionic bonds. When pure, zircon is colorless, but when other chemicals are introduced to it during its formation, zirconium silicate can become colored.

Exposure to sunlight may also even cause this change in color. It commonly is found with other stones, such as granite, sapphire and limestone. Its hardness on the Mohs scale is about 7.5. Some colors are black, yellow, brown, red and pink. Certain colors of this product may have different names.

Zircon can often be found with sapphires in Western Australia. It can also be found in
Norway, the Rhine area, Central France, Russia, Canada and Tasmania. The substance is frequently mined in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Thailand. In the United States, zirconium silicate can be located in New York and North Carolina.

Zircon ceramics often serve as protective coatings on metals. Most products get ground
by processors into sands of varying grain size. Ceramics manufacturers make the most overall use of zirconium silicate, employing the finest sands to give their products high strength and high resistance to heat. Additionally, powdered zircon in ceramic glazes gives them an opaqueness that allows colors to stay fixed in varying light.

The famed cubic zirconium is a manufactured type of this compound. The natural mineral
can also be cut, polished and set as a gemstone. According to the Zircon Minerals Council, roughly 12 percent of mined product becomes jewelry, although some of the crystals have to be heated to destroy the trace radioactive elements they contain.

The Role Of Unique Properties Of Graphene

New research by Columbia Engineering demonstrates remarkable optical nonlinear behavior of graphene that may lead to broad applications in optical interconnects and low-power photonic integrated circuits. With the placement of a sheet of graphene just one-carbon-atom-thick, the researchers transformed the originally passive device into an active one that generated microwave photonic signals and performed parametric wavelength conversion at telecommunication wavelengths.

They have engineered a graphene-silicon device whose optical nonlinearity enables the system parameters (such as transmittance and wavelength conversion) to change with the input power level. Using different optical frequencies to tune the radio frequency, they found that the graphene-silicon hybrid chip achieved radio frequency generation with a resonant quality factor more than 50 times lower than what other scientists have achieved in silicon. The researchers also were able to observe that, by optically driving the electronic and thermal response in the silicon chip, they could generate a radio frequency carrier on top of the transmitted laser beam and control its modulation with the laser intensity and color.

Until recently, researchers could only isolate graphene as single crystals with micron-scale dimensions, essentially limiting the material to studies confined within laboratories. “The ability to synthesize large-area films of graphene has the obvious implication of enabling commercial production of these proven graphene-based technologies,” explains James Hone, associate professor of mechanical engineering, whose team provided the high quality graphene for this study. “But large-area films of graphene (is an allotrope of carbon) can also enable the development of novel devices and fundamental scientific studies requiring graphene samples with large dimensions. This work is an exciting example of both-large-area films of graphene enable the fabrication of novel opto-electronic devices, which in turn allow for the study of scientific phenomena.”

And now, the recent excellent work done by this group of Columbia researchers demonstrates that graphene is also unique electro-optical material for ultrafast nonlinear optical modulation when it is combined with silicon photonic crystal structures. This opens an important doorway for many novel optoelectronic device applications, such as 

The Role Of High-tech Swimsuit

The Olympic swimming pool has been a national battleground. In order “faceless” in the former 10 medals, good results is essential in swimming events which can decide the winner of 34 gold medals.

However, in the world short-distance swimming events that many experts gathered at present, the technological gap between the top players is minimal and the skill of has not been the key to decide the game’s outcome. Therefore, in order to obtain better results, technicians of different countries began to make a fuss about the swimsuit. How to make swimsuit maximum extent to reduce friction with the water flow, reduce weight and increase flexibility have been the tireless task of athletes and technical staff.

In addition to the drag reduction, another important function of the new high-tech swimsuit that contains polyurethane – to improve the buoyancy of about 30%. According to professionals, in the high-tech swimsuits, the most critical part is the polyurethane coating, this technique is also widely used in military field, such as used in the surface of submarines and ships. In addition, the polyurethane swimsuit is 70 times tight than the average type. In addition to help to increase the buoyancy, as well as to reduce friction, light weight, small resistance and a variety of additional features. Moreever, the athlete’s body  can be easily shaped into a streamline after puting on this high-tech swimsuit.

Since 2008 until 2010, just two years, only in men’s race, the 37 short-distance swimming world records were broken; more exaggerated in the women’s competition, the world records that been broken were up to 42! World record was so generally fragile just like eggshell in the face of the high-tech swimsuit.

People finally wake up, if don’t limit the use of high-tech swimsuits, swimming will lose its original meaning. In pool, it seems that different swimwear brands are in the pursuit of higher, faster and stronger, while players are only carriers. FINA had to determine by discussions during the World Championships, banned players who wore swimsuit made by polyurethane material to take part in the competition in 2010.

Tartrazine Does Not Come From Lemon

What ingredients are food additives, and what are illegal add-on components? Can fragrance and flavor be used in the food? Flavor of Shanghai Institute of Technology and Engineering Sigma Societies carried out social practice project in summer, had a investigation on the misunderstanding of the public on food additives. Through the publicity to citizens, the public’s one-sided understanding of flavors and fragrances have changed.

This is the second year that Sigma Societies understand the public awareness of food additives, and dissemination of food safety precautions through questionnaires. This year’s survey shows that public knowledge of flavors and fragrances rose slightly than last year, but still very one-sided.

The questionnaire survey shows that 64.5% of respondents are still do not know, “whether Sudan and melamine are food additives”. In fact, Sudan is a chemical dye, while melamine is used as a chemical raw material, they can not be regarded as food additives and can’t be added in food. The survey also shows that 97.5% people still think that spice flavors should not be added to food. The practice team find that during the publicity to explain knowledge about flavor, citizens almost don’t believe spice flavors are non-toxic, and many people, especially senior citizens, flavors and fragrances said, “the most safest way simply is not to use”.

‘Tartrazine (also called as Acid Yellow 23, the CAS number is 1934-21-0) is extracted from a lemon, and curcumin (the formula is C21H20O6 and the CAS No. is  458-37-7) is extracted from a ginger’, the survey finds people generally have major points about food additives, but these views are wrong. Many food additives are called aseemingly “natural” in the name, but in fact they are not extracted from natural plants, such as tartrazin and curcumin are compounds. On the contrary, a number of compounds seemingly foods add ingredients extracted from plants, such as polyphenols, catechins, grape skin red.