by Rebecca Renner

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking a tougher stance on confidentiality claims that allow firms to prevent the names of chemicals identified as potential health risks being made available to the public.

The change to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), announced on 21 January, is the latest in the Obama administration's effort to strengthen the law, but not the last - the EPA promises additional steps in the coming months. 

For the first time, the widely used molecular synthesis technique known as click chemistry has been safely applied to a living organism. Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have crafted a unique copper-free version of click chemistry to create biomolecular probes for in vivo studies of live mice. Conventional click chemistry reactions require a copper catalyst that is toxic to cells and organisms.

by Kate McAlpine

A team of researchers in the Netherlands have devised a trap that can pull carbon dioxide out of the air.  

The researchers, led by Elisabeth Bouwman at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry at Leiden University, have developed a selective copper complex - predisposed to capture CO2 and ignore other atmospheric gasses. Equally important, the trapped CO2 can be removed through electrochemistry, requiring a relatively low electrical potential to replace lost electrons.

In a striking finding that raises new questions about carbon dioxide’s (CO2) impact on marine life, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists report that some shell-building creatures—such as crabs, shrimp and lobsters—unexpectedly build more shell when exposed to ocean acidification caused by elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

 Because excess CO2 dissolves in the ocean—causing it to “acidify” —researchers have been concerned about the ability of certain organisms to maintain the strength of their shells. Carbon dioxide is known to trigger a process that reduces the abundance of carbonate ions in seawater—one of the primary materials that marine organisms use to build their calcium carbonate shells and skeletons.

by David L. Chandler

Computational approach to materials science could bring new properties even to familiar substances such as concrete and steel

A company that makes steel for bearings used in heavy trucks had a big problem. The trucks travel through harsh, perilous environments such as Siberia, and an unexpected bearing failure on a remote stretch could literally put the driver's life in danger. Knowing how long the steel would hold up under those conditions was beyond their ability to predict experimentally, so they turned to specialists at MIT.

by Simon Hadlington

Scientists from Germany and Israel have caught a fleeting glimpse of carbonic acid, the simple yet elusive molecule that plays a key role in nature, from regulating the pH of blood to mediating crucial events in the global carbon cycle. And it appears that the acid is not as weak as the textbooks would have us believe.

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This news service is provided by Good Samaritan Institute, located in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

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