Chemicals and Environment

Not only is spring a beautiful time of year for those of us in the temperate zones, but it is also a financially lucrative period for companies in the business of making tissues, antihistamines, decongestants and other items to help deal with allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever. But for people with the condition, spring is not so beautiful. While most sufferers develop allergic rhinitis in childhood, it can appear in adulthood as well.

Most commonly, pollen from trees and/or grasses are the culprits in causing those sneezing fits, runny eyes, and/or congested nasal passages, and spores of various molds can also provoke symptoms.  Early spring bloomers such as ash, birch, cedar, elm, maple and locust trees, as well as many grass species provide the triggers for such...

Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes another growing season. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower calorie intake; reduce risks for heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes; and protect against certain cancers.

With all these benefits, why do some consumers choose to avoid produce? Approximately three-quarters of people in the U.S. don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

A lot of factors could explain the shortfall, including fear. Media stories about topics such as GMOs and pesticides may convince some consumers that it’s not safe to eat certain fruits and vegetables. There’s no question that negative news...

By Joel Shurkin

(Inside Science) -- Drilling below the floor of the Dead Sea, scientists have found evidence of cataclysmic droughts, far worse than anything ever recorded by humans -- a time when the Dead Sea was much deader.

Evidence taken from a layer of salt recorded rainfall rates of about a fifth of modern levels as recently as 6,000 years ago and another dry episode 120,000 years ago.

The scientists from six nations, who drilled for forty days and forty nights, reached 1,500 feet deep into the sea bed and into the beach.

About halfway down, drill samples showed layers of salt 300 feet thick from the time between ice ages. Mud had washed into the sea when the climate was wet. The crystalized salt precipitated out when it was dry and water receded....

In a world that is jam-packed with things to worry about—most of them nonsense—we have more nonsense, courtesy of California State Sen. Bob Wieckowskia (D): a law requiring warning labels for all foods that contain synthetic dyes and are sold in the state .This includes restaurants. There has never been a law like this before. 

"This bill would establish the Protecting Californians from Synthetic Food Dyes Act, which would make it a crime for a person to manufacture, package, sell, offer to sell, distribute, or import for sale or distribution within the State of California food that contains synthetic dyes without a prescribed label, either on the package or on the shelf or bin where the food is displayed for bulk foods. The bill would require prescribed language to...

Every once in a while, I like to write about unusual elements. While you don't run into them all that often, some of those bad boys are pretty strange. Here are a couple that I've written about in the past:

Fluorine: The Element From Hell (contains a video of some lunatics burning up a raw chicken with fluorine gas)

Beryllium- A Rather Strange Element

Here's another - gallium. You may not have even heard of it. The metal does not exist in elemental form anywhere on earth. Rather, it is found in combination with other elements in minerals, most...

If you find yourself behind the wheel of a car at a DUI checkpoint tonight, having consumed 14 Jello shots, you are doomed and rightly so. But scientifically it's a matter of how doomed, though at that time you will be unlikely to fully appreciate an important, widely-used chemical reaction that was invented by Sir Ewart Jones in 1946—The Jones Oxidation.

It is based on a very simple reaction, which can be monitored by a color change (1). Color yourself stupid. And then learn some science before you get hammered this evening (but don't drive.)

Chromium gets its name from chrôma,  the Greek word for color. And those Greeks...

"Lying" is considered one of those words civilized people should never say. That's why politicians never use it. Instead, their opponents are "misinformed" or "misspeaking" or "using alternative facts." 

Well, the time for civility is over. Journalist -- if we can actually call him that -- Danny Hakim is lying to you. And it's not his first rodeo, either. He's built quite a track record for himself at the New York Times, publishing distorted information about GMOs and comparing agricultural pesticides to "Nazi-made sarin gas." 

Now, Mr. Hakim has written an...

It's that time of year again. Flowers are beginning to bloom, trees are turning green, the birds are chirping a little louder ... and the Environmental Working Group is scaring you about perfectly safe and healthy food. 

Once again, the EWG has released its annual "Dirty Dozen," a list of fresh produce found in grocery stores all over America that EWG thinks is killing you1. And like obliging lap dogs, the media -- as always, without fail, every single year -- reported the results of the "study" without even the slightest shred of criticism or critical thinking.

So, what is killing us this year? Strawberries are #1. Spinach is #2. Spinach! The upside is that if you're the sort of person who doesn't like spinach, now you can point to some pseudoscience that...

At the Council, we specialize in taking complex scientific and medical issues and crafting them into a form that can be understood by non-scientists, while at the same time not omitting crucial information. And talk about timing! We don't get a challenge like this every day. This one is special. Do people pee in the pool? How about bears? We shall see.

The world can be broken down into two broad categories:

1) Those who deny that they pee in the pool.

2) Those who won't go in the pool because they know that the people in group #1 are a bunch of liars.

Given these two facts, it is difficult to understand why anyone would want to study whether urine is found in pools, let alone how much. But, a...

The line between deliberately manipulating a story or poorly reporting the facts is perilously thin, and often based on the subjectivity of the reader.

During Sunday’s Academy Awards presentation, the United States’ ‘paper of record’, the New York Times, launched an advertising blitz positioning itself as the highbrow ethical responder to the spate of so-called ‘fake news.’ “The truth is hard…to find…to know,” the add proclaimed, somberly.

It’s a powerful message, one that the public and the media should reflect upon—including the leadership at the Times itself. That a journalist...