Monday, November 16, 2009

Chemtastic Designs: New stuff...

Oops. It's been a while since I posted about Chemtastic Designs, so here are a bunch of new and updated chemistry T-shirt designs...

First, there's the "Precious" design, which features the chemical element symbols of four precious metals -- gold, silver, platinum, and palladium -- none of which are as precious as your little one. :)

There's the updated "Little Princess" design, now looking more girly:

There's the "Sweetheart Series" which features 4 different sweeteners: sucrose (table sugar), aspartame (200 times as sweet as sugar), saccharin (300x sugar), and sucralose (600x sugar). Are you a real sugar or artificial sweetener kind of person? How sweet are you? Pick your sweetheart:

There's the "chemistry is not for the weak" and "CYNIC" T-shirts:

The "HUNK" and "PUNK" and "BrAt" designs:

And finally "SAsSY" and "PrINCe charming":

That's it for now. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cheap 'dipstick' test for pesticides in food

Researchers from McMaster University in Canada are developing a cheap "dipstick" test that can detect pesticide residues in food and drinks in less than 5 minutes. In contrast, conventional mass spectrometric testing typically takes hours to complete. The experimental paper-based test strip detects acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors, including organophosphate pesticides, and changes color depending on the amount of pesticide present. The test has pesticide detection limits on the order of 1-10 nM (bendiocarb 1 nM; carbaryl 10 nM; paraoxon 1 nM; malathion 10 nM) and should be suitable for the rapid screening of trace levels of organophosphate and carbamate pesticides.

Their work has been published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

While the test won't be able to tell us exactly what types of pesticides are present in our food, it would be pretty neat if the test strips could eventually be available to the average consumer so that we can check the levels of pesticide residues in the stuff we buy, and make better choices about the foods we eat.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tylenol reduces effectiveness of vaccines in babies?

A new study published in The Lancet, led by military and government scientists in the Czech Republic, has found that Tylenol (aka acetaminophen, paracetamol), when administered right after an immunization shot, can slightly reduce the effectiveness of vaccines in young babies (9-16 weeks old). Acetaminophen is widely recommended as an analgesic for babies, and it seems to be common practice for parents to give their babies acetaminophen right after they get their shots to prevent fever and fussiness. Fever after a vaccine is pretty common -- it's the body's immune response -- but apparently, curbing the fever also reduces the immune response and the amount of antibodies that are produced. In fact, antibody levels remained significantly lower even after the babies got their booster shots at 12-15 months old.

Doctors from the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention note that even with the use of acetaminophen, more than 90% of the babies achieved protection from the vaccines after the booster dose, but they believe that the consistency of findings from other studies suggests that routine use of fever-lowering medicines during immunization may not be recommended.