American Chemical Society meeting highlights

Science News' complete coverage of the recent chemistry conference

RECENT NEWS

March 29


Cap or cork, it’s the wine that matters most

SAN FRANCISCO — Don’t judge a wine by its cover. In a survey of the chemistry and flavor of pinot noir and chardonnay, consumers couldn’t discern wines capped with natural corks from screw caps, scientists reported March 25 at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society. The results suggest that the way its bottle is stopped has little if any effect on a wine’s flavor. | Read More

March 26


Alternative flame retardants leach into the environment

SAN FRANCISCO — Two chemicals that are becoming widely used replacements for potentially toxic flame retardants in household products such as televisions and furniture have shown up in peregrine falcon eggs in California. The discovery, part of a larger study monitoring contaminants in wildlife, adds to evidence that these new flame retardants escape into and persist in the environment, as the original ones do. | Read More

March 23


Better sleuthing through chemistry

SAN FRANCISCO — Finding out whodunit in chemical warfare cases may be aided by scientists focused on the howdunit.

Researchers have developed a technique to ascertain the chemical fingerprint of compounds such as mustard gas, rat poison and nerve agents such as VX. Figuring out the details of how these compounds were created in the first place could provide vital clues to law enforcement agencies aiming to catch chemical warfare criminals and help guide first responders as they gather evidence. | Read More

March 22


Ingredient of dark roasted coffees may make them easier on the tummy

SAN FRANCISCO – Roasting coffee beans doesn’t just impart bold, rich flavor. It also creates a compound that helps dial down production of stomach acid, according to research presented on March 21 at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society. The discovery may explain why dark roasted brews are gentler on the stomach than their lighter peers, and could lead to a new generation of tummy-friendly coffees.. | Read More 

ON THE SCENE BLOG ENTRIES

March 27


Smokin’ entrees: Charcoal grilling tops the list

SAN FRANCISCO—At the American Chemical Society meeting, earlier this week, I stayed at a hotel that fronted onto the kitchen door of a Burger King. That grungy portal was locked most of the time, but explained the source of the beefy scent that perfumed the air from mid-morning on – the restaurant’s exhaust of smoke and meat-derived aerosols. A study presented at the ACS meeting confirmed what my nose observed: that commercial grilling can release relatively huge amounts of pollutants. | Read More

March 22


Athlete’s foot therapy tapped to treat bat-killing fungus

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the past four years, a mysterious white-nose fungus has struck hibernating North American bats. Populations in affected caves and mines can experience death rates of more than 80 percent over a winter. In desperation, an informal interagency task force of scientists from state and federal agencies has just launched an experimental program to fight the plague. Their weapon: a drug ordinarily used to treat athlete’s foot. | Read More

March 21


Cool roof coating: Mechanism kept under wraps

SAN FRANCISCO — The American Chemical Society held a news briefing March 21 to feature a new energy-saving technology. It’s an ostensibly “smart” coating for roofing materials that knows when to reflect heat, like in summer time, and when to instead let the sun’s rays help heat a structure. | Read More

SCIENCE & THE PUBLIC BLOG ENTRIES

April 2


Skin as a source of drug pollution

SAN FRANCISCO—Traces of over-the-counter and prescription meds taint the environment. The presumption  Ì  and it’s a good one  Ì  has been that most of these residues come from the urine and solid wastes excreted by treated patients. But in some instances, a leading source of a drug may be skin  Ì  either because the medicine was applied there or because people sweat it out. | Read More

March 29


Mothballs deserve respect

SAN FRANCISCO—I don’t use mothballs — except sometimes to sprinkle down the burrows of animals excavating tunnels beneath the deck floor of my pergola. It’s the most effective stop-work order for wildlife that I’ve found. But I won’t use these stinky crystals inside my home because they scare me. And those fears appear justified, according to Linda Hall of the California Environmental Protection Agency. | Read More

March 27


Walnuts slow prostate cancer growth

SAN FRANCISCO—A new study suggests that mice with prostate tumors should say “nuts to cancer.” Paul Davis of the University of California, Davis, hopes follow-up data by his team and others will one day justify men saying the same. | Read More

March 25


The skinny on indoor ozone

SAN FRANCISCO — Smog’s ozone isn’t just a problem outdoors. This respiratory irritant seeps into homes and other buildings. Indoor concentrations tend to be far lower than those outside, largely because much gets destroyed as the gas molecules collide with surfaces and undergo transformative chemical reactions. New research identifies a hitherto ignored surface that apparently plays a major role in quashing indoor ozone: It’s human skin — or, more precisely, the oils in it. | Read More

March 23


BPA found beached and at sea

SAN FRANCISCO — Smog’s ozone isn’t just a problem outdoors. This respiratory irritant seeps into homes and other buildings. Indoor concentrations tend to be far lower than those outside, largely because much gets destroyed as the gas molecules collide with surfaces and undergo transformative chemical reactions. New research identifies a hitherto ignored surface that apparently plays a major role in quashing indoor ozone: It’s human skin — or, more precisely, the oils in it. | Read More

March 21


Bees face ‘unprecedented’ pesticide exposures at home and afield

SAN FRANCISCO—For years the news has been the same: Honey bees are being hammered by some mysterious environmental plague that has a name — colony collapse disorder – but no established cause. A two-year study now provides evidence indicting one likely group of suspects: pesticides. It found “unprecedented levels” of mite-killing chemicals and crop pesticides in hives across the United States and parts of Canada. | Read More

Janet Raloff

Janet Raloff is the editor of Science News for Students, a daily online magazine for middle school students. She started at Science News in 1977 as the environment and policy writer.

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