Chemicals & Chemistry

Plastic bottles litter most of the world. There have been ongoing efforts to find methods to biodegrade PET, a very common plastic used for bottled water. British scientists have discovered an efficient way to get bacteria to "eat" PET plastic. Here's how it works.
Things pretty much suck. Three states are on fire. There are five tropical cyclones in the Atlantic for the first time ever. Our social fabric is hardly intact. And there is this annoying little virus blowing up people's lungs -- and it isn't going away anytime soon. But, thanks to the CPSC at least we can sleep at night. Dr. Duck's lead buttons will threaten us no more.
Welcome to the 15th Dreaded Chemistry Lesson From Hell. This time you will be (mis)treated to a plethora of knowledge about bismuth - information so critical that it would be hard to imagine surviving the day without it. And reader comments from Joe, the ball bearing salesman, and Candy, a decertified yoga instructor. Could there be a better way to start your day?
A large study just found that there was little, or no, evidence of cancer linked to the use of hair dye. But one of the most common dyes, para-phenylenediamine, could be reasonably expected by a chemist to be carcinogenic because of the conditions used in the dying process. Even though it's not. Here's why.
Navalny, a Russian anti-corruption activist and well-known critic of President Vladimir Putin, is being treated in Germany for an apparent case of poisoning by an "organophosphorus neurotoxin." But which one: the insecticide or the chemical weapon? Here are some clues.
The most recent workshop of the Beyond Science and Decisions series was conducted at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Cincinnati, Ohio, in February of this year.
GHB, one of the "date-rape drugs," is being increasingly abused after two decades of low usage. Here's a lesson on the chemistry, biochemistry, and nomenclature of the drug. Admittedly, this sounds deadly boring. But there's more. Juvenile puke humor! Enjoy.
Do people who sit facing south while playing Mahjong fart more than those who face north? What? You don't know? Well, here's a study for you.
A gigantic amount of ammonium nitrate recently exploded in Beirut, killing hundreds, injuring thousands while causing catastrophic damage. Chemically, it's not at all surprising that ammonium nitrate can detonate. With that, here's the answer to the question people around the world – and especially in Lebanon – are asking themselves: Why does it explode?
COVID COVID COVID COVID. Enough already. We need a break. Fortunately, We got a tip about a steaming, hot story (which will at least temporarily take your mind off COVID.) Certain Haribo Gummi Bears have been causing intense gastrointestinal distress in some people who have partaken, and they're not shy about revealing this. Or is this just urban legend? Let's get to the "bottom" of this. With a mini chemistry lesson.
A few weeks ago the EPA approved specific anti-coronavirus labeling for two Lysol products. But the two are part of a larger list of 470 other disinfectant products that "meet EPA's criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2." In other words, you can use them to kill the virus. I promise that this isn't nearly as boring as it sounds. But, just in case, have the NoDoz handy.
If your sole goal in life is getting your hands on a can of Lysol spray, be prepared to be bitterly disappointed. The EPA gave its approval for Reckitt Benckiser (which sells the stuff) to make anti-COVID claims for two Lysol products. What's in there that can kill the virus? Time for "The Dreaded Chemistry Lesson From Hell"? I think so.