Chemicals & Chemistry

Plenty of art critics can babble on about this or that. But currently, at the Whitney Museum in New York, a Warhol show is getting rave, babbling reviews. Partly because the flamboyant artist urinated on some of his work. His pee – and that of others, ewww – caused copper paint to turn color. Others can babble about art, but only we at ACSH dare to explain the pop-art power of pee. Call it what you will, anything that is except yellow journalism.
Screwy medicine is nothing new. Some of what went on 400 years ago makes Joe "Crazy Joe" Mercola seem like Albert Schweitzer. For example, infections were treated (unsuccessfully) with "ointment consisting essentially of the moss on the skull of a man who had died a violent death, combined with boar's and bear's fat, burnt worms, dried boar's brain, red sandal-wood, and mummy." A "real" Joe, Dr. Joe Schwarcz of McGill's OSS, looks at some ancient, and very odd, therapies.
Cigarette smoking is at an all-time low, and secondhand smoke exposure is also collapsing. So some public health officials have manufactured a new threat: Thirdhand smoke.
The plaintiffs claim that Ocean Spray lied about not using artificial flavors, and the only restitution is for the company to hand over a big bag of money. How big? Very big. They want a jury to award them "statutory, compensatory, treble, and punitive damages." That's all due to a technicality that hasn't affected their lives one iota.
The CDC's latest report shows dangerously high lead levels in children who live in households that contain spices, herbal remedies, and ceremonial powders -- in other words, the sort of things we associate with alternative medicine and other "natural" or "traditional" practices.
The Florida man who was arrested for synthesizing the "Mother of Satan" claims that he was just making fireworks. Uh-huh. Celebrating the Fourth of July early, we suppose? Here, we explain the chemistry behind the explosive.
You probably haven't spent a lot of time lately thinking about the element, nickel. Talk about boring. Well, guess what? It is very far from boring, especially when you learn some cool stuff. Here is some cool stuff.
One sure way to damage your wine business is to overdose the soil on chemicals. Yet that's what growers must do if they rely on copper sulfate, a heavy metal that accumulates in soil – and is certified by organic marketing groups.
A company named Concrobium sells a safe, environmentally-friendly mold killer. It seems to work pretty well, but comes with a hefty price tag. What's in it that makes it cost so much? It sure ain't the chemicals.
The Environmental Protection Agency has extended registration for Dicamba – an herbicide commonly used to remove growing weeds, as well as Dicamba-tolerant crops – out to the end of 2020. Here's what that means.
The Sierra Club's adventure and lifestyle editor wrote about toxic chemicals in food (which aren't even toxic). And she had help. From a bug expert and shampoo salesman.
The EPA is evaluating 10 chemicals under the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act. To guide its decision-making, we've created explanations for each, with recommendations when the science is clear. Here is the science story on perchloroethylene.