Navigation Links
American Chemical Society's weekly PressPac -- April 29, 2009

Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) Weekly PressPac from the Office of Public Affairs. It has news from ACS' 34 peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News.

Please credit the individual journal or the American Chemical Society as the source for this information.

PressPac Archive:


Gene - altering compounds released from forest fires
Environmental Science & Technology

Scientists in Washington State are reporting the first discovery of potent mutagenic substances in smoke from forest fires that often sweep through huge stands of Ponderosa pine in the western United States and Canada. Their discovery of these mutagens substances that can damage the genetic material DNA is scheduled for the June 1 edition of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

In the study, Julia Laskin and colleagues note that forest fires long have been recognized as major sources of organic compounds containing nitrogen. But their research is the first to show that the nitrogen compounds exist as alkaloids, which are naturally occurring mutagens that are produced by trees and other plants.

Ponderosa pine trees, the researchers note, often grow in droughty areas and in forests subject to large-scale outbreaks of fires, and have high levels of alkaloids in their needles. Fires help to transfer alkaloids from needles into tiny particles that can be then transported through the air. Noting that the alkaloids can be transported long distances, the scientists say that fires involving Ponderosa pines could have adverse human health effects. JS

"Molecular Characterization of Nitrogen Containing Organic Compounds in Biomass Burning Aerosols Using High Resolution Mass Spectrometry"


Julia Laskin, Ph.D.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Richland, Wash. 99352
Phone: (509) 371-6136
Fax: (509) 371-6139


New computer program promises to be "Rosetta Stone" for chemical names
Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling

In an advance that will help speed global development of new drugs and patenting of new commercial and industrial products, a scientist in New Mexico is reporting development of the first computer program that can quickly and accurately translate complex chemical names from one language into another. The study is in the current edition of ACS' Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, a bi-monthly publication.

Roger Sayle notes that a universal system for naming chemicals does exist. However, translating chemical names from one language into another can be a complex task due to differences in spacing, capitalization, spelling, and other factors. Proper translation from English to Chinese, for example, often requires the use of specially trained chemists who are fluent in both languages. Although scientists have tried for decades to create computer software for quickly translating chemical names into other languages, there's been limited progress in this area until now, Sayle notes.

Sayle reports development of a new version of a powerful computer program called Lexichem that can perform those translations. The study describes how that program translated a group of more than 250,000 chemical names from English to seven other languages (and back) with a 98 percent accuracy rate. MTS

"Foreign language translation of chemical nomenclature by computer"


Roger Sayle, Ph.D.
OpenEye Scientific Software
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508
Phone: 505-473-7385, ext. 80
Fax: 505-473-0833


Toward giving artificial cells the ability for sustained movement
Journal of the American Chemical Society

Scientists in Japan are reporting an advance toward giving artificial cells another hallmark of life the ability to tap an energy source and use it to undergo sustained movement. Their study, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, describes the first "self-propelled" oil droplets (used as a model for research on artificial cells) that can run on a chemical "fuel."

Tadashi Sugawara and Taro Toyota and other colleagues note in the new study that scientists have tried for years to find a method for producing oil droplets that undergo controlled movement from one point to another. Despite identifying several promising approaches, researchers have never found an ideal method that they can easily control.

The new study describes development of oil droplets equipped with chemical "engines" highly reactive catalysts that provide self-propelled motion in the presence of a chemical "fuel." This fuel consists of special substances that react in the presence of the catalyst. When the researchers placed droplets in water containing the fuel, the droplets moved in a controlled fashion toward areas with the highest concentration of fuel. The researchers also say that when another droplet comes close the newcomer it is trapped by the trail of wastes released by the first droplet. Then the two move together in a "communicative" manner. When the fuel was exhausted, the droplets slowed down and stopped. The study serves as a long-awaited blueprint for designing similar locomotion systems in artificial cells, the scientists say. MTS

"Self-Propelled Oil Droplets Consuming "Fuel" Surfactant"


Video footage of a self-propelled oil droplet in motion: ja806689p_si_001.mpg (5.61 MB)

Tadashi Sugawara, Ph.D.
Department of Basic Science
The University of Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan


Mercury levels in Arctic seals may be linked to global warming
Environmental Science & Technology

Researchers in Canada are reporting for the first time that high mercury levels in certain Arctic seals appear to be linked to vanishing sea ice caused by global warming. Their study, a new insight into the impact of climate change on Arctic marine life, is scheduled for the May 1 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

Gary Stern and colleagues note in the new study that Canadian Arctic ringed seals, like many Arctic marine animals, have relatively high levels of mercury. However, researchers have never determined how these levels are linked to sea ice extent and the resulting composition of arctic cod and other prey containing mercury available to ringed seals.

The scientists analyzed the mercury content in muscle samples collected from ringed seals between 1973 and 2007. They then compared the levels to the length of the so-called "summer ice-free season," a warm period marked by vanishing sea ice in the seals' habitat. They found that the seals accumulated more mercury during both short (2 months) and long (5 months) ice-free seasons and postulate that this is related to the seals' food supplies. Higher seal mercury concentrations may follow relatively short ice-free seasons due to consumption of older, more highly contaminated Arctic cod while relatively long ice-free seasons may promote higher pelagic productivity and thus increased survival and abundance of Arctic cod with the overall result of more fish consumption and greater exposure to mercury. Longer ice-free seasons resulting from a warming Arctic may therefore result in higher mercury levels in ringed seal populations as well as their predators (polar bears and humans). MTS

"Mercury Trends in Ringed Seals (Phoca hispida) from the Western Canadian Arctic since 1973: Associations with Length of Ice-Free Season"


Gary A. Stern, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist, Arctic Ecosystem Health
Freshwater Institute, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2N6
Phone: (204) 984-6761
Fax: (204) 984-2403
Cell: (204) 294-8523
Email (New):


"Stinky" drywall imported from China raises health and safety concerns
Chemical & Engineering News

Homeowners throughout the nation are complaining of stinky odors, copper pipe and wire corrosion, and respiratory problems in an ongoing crisis that officials say is linked to drywall imported from China. An article on this topic is scheduled for the May 4 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

C&EN associate editor Bethany Halford explains in the article that drywall also known as wallboard, plasterboard, and gypsum board is composed of a gypsum, a chalk-like material. Spurred by complaints from homeowners that their homes smell like rotten eggs, investigators have traced the problem to drywall imported from China starting in 2004. But officials do not know the exact chemicals that are causing the problem and how they got into the drywall.

Researchers suspect that the odors are caused by certain sulfur-containing substances in the drywall. Released as gases, these substances can corrode copper pipes, wiring, and air conditioning coils, the article notes. Although officials believe that the gases do not pose a serious health threat, many homeowners with the drywall have reported nosebleeds, sinus problems, and respiratory infections. Several government agencies are now investigating the exact health effects caused by exposure to these gases as well as the electrical safety issues related to corrosion of copper wiring.

"Wallboard Woes"

This story will be available on May 4 at

Michael Bernstein
ACS News Service
Phone: 202-872-6042
Fax: 202-872-4370


Contact: Michael Woods
American Chemical Society

Related biology news :

1. Native Americans descended from a single ancestral group, DNA study confirms
2. American Chemical Societys Weekly PressPac -- April 22, 2009
3. University of Texas at Austin engineer elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
4. Springer partners with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
5. American Chemical Society Weekly PressPac -- April 15, 2009
6. Study reveals potential to amass more carbon in eastern North American forests
7. American Chemical Society Weekly PressPac -- April 8, 2009
8. Study reveals potential to amass more carbon in eastern North American forests
9. American Society for Microbiology to host 109th general meeting in Philadelphia
10. American Chemical Society Weekly PressPac -- April 1, 2009
11. News from the April 2009 Journal of the American Dietetic Association
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
American Chemical Society's weekly PressPac -- April 29, 2009
(Date:4/5/2017)... 2017 Today HYPR Corp. , leading ... component of the HYPR platform is officially FIDO® ... security architecture that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune 500 ... secured over 15 million users across the financial services ... home product suites and physical access represent a growing ...
(Date:4/4/2017)... , April 4, 2017   EyeLock LLC ... announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office ... broadly covers the linking of an iris image with ... transaction) and represents the company,s 45 th issued ... patent is very timely given the multi-modal biometric capabilities ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... -- On April 6-7, 2017, will host the world,s ... at Microsoft,s headquarters in Redmond, Washington ... health and wellness apps that provide a unique, personalized ... is the first hackathon for personal genomics and the ... the genomics, tech and health industries are sending teams ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... A ... pregnancy rates in frozen and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer ... age to IVF success. , After comparing the results from the fresh and ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... , ... Dr. Bob Harman, founder and CEO of VetStem Biopharma, Inc. ... The event entitled “Stem Cells and Their Regenerative Powers,” was held on August ... MPVM was joined by two human doctors: Peter B. Hanson, M.D., Chief of Orthopedic ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... 2017  BioTech Holdings announced today identification and ... ProCell stem cell therapy prevents limb loss in ... demonstrated that treatment with ProCell resulted in more ... compared to standard bone marrow stem cell administration.  ... reduction of therapeutic effect.  ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... for microscopy and surface analysis, Nanoscience Instruments is now expanding into Analytical ... broad range of contract analysis services for advanced applications. Services will leverage ...
Breaking Biology Technology: