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A Whiff of Danger

Fragrances hinder cells' removal of other chemicals

By
12:24pm, March 16, 2005

Just as even the most seaworthy ship must steadily pump out bilgewater, cells continuously rid themselves of chemicals that don't belong inside. The biological pumps that cells use for this purpose are among evolution's oldest and most enduring inventions. They share nearly identical molecular machinery in organisms from bacteria to people.

So, when David Epel and Till Luckenbach recently discovered that the pumps falter in mollusk cells that have been exposed to some chemicals used as artificial fragrances, the Stanford University researchers became worried about more than the health of marine animals.

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