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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac -- May 23, 2007

American Chemical Society


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Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) News Service Weekly press package (PressPac) with reports selected from 35 major peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. With more than 160,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society. Please cite the individual journal, or the American Chemical Society, as the source of this information.

ACS NEWS SERVICE -- May 23, 2007

PressPac Archive:

In This Edition:

  • Changes related to diabetic cardiomyopathy occur soon after diabetes appears

  • Beach sand may harbor disease-causing E. coli bacteria

  • Fireworks displays linked to perchlorate contamination in lakes

  • An improved fluorescent sensor material for detecting explosives

  • Mom & Pop gold miners threaten new wave of mercury pollution

Journalists' Resources:

  • "Huh, a what?" Find out "what" in a Chemistry Glossary

  • Introducing ACS Updates: Forensic Science

  • Science Elements: ACS Audio Clips

  • News, features, background, sources from ACS National Meeting

  • Green Goals for the Pharmaceutical Industry

Mark Your Calendars:

  • 11th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, Washington, DC

This information is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance ACS News Service Weekly Press Package information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.


Changes related to diabetic cardiomyopathy occur soon after diabetes appears

"Dramatic" losses of a key biochemical substance in heart muscle tissue occur in the very earliest stages of diabetes induced in laboratory mice, scientists in Missouri are reporting in the May 29 issue of ACS' Biochemistry, a weekly journal. Xianlin Han and colleagues did the study as part of a broader medical effort to understand diabetic cardiomyopathy. Heart abnormalities are the relatively common complication of diabetes and account for much of the increased mortality from heart disease in patients with diabetes.

The researchers used a powerful new technology termed "shotgun lipidomics" to show that hearts of diabetic mice lose large amounts of cardiolipin (CL), fatty materials essential for the heart's production of the energy needed for normal contraction. The changes, which involved a loss of CL followed by changes in the remaining CL, occurred as early as 5 days after rats became diabetic through administration of a compound that impairs insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Researchers observed the changes in two models of diabetes commonly used to study the two types of human diabetes. The changes happen before the appearance of toxic fatty materials regarded as a hallmark of diabetic cardiomyopathy and might be used as very sensitive biomarkers for the condition, the report indicates.

"Alterations in Myocardial Cardiolipin Content and Composition Occur at the Very Earliest Stages of Diabetes: A Shotgun Lipidomics Study"


Xianlin Han, Ph.D.
Washington University School of Medicine
St. Louis, Missouri 63130
Phone: 314-362-2690
Fax: 314-362-1402


Beach sand may harbor disease-causing E. coli bacteria
Environmental Science & Technology

New evidence implicating beach sand as a reservoir for E. coli -- the bacterium that is used as an indicator that water has been contaminated by fecal material -- has been reported by scientists at the University of Minnesota.

In the report, published in the April 15 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a biweekly journal, Michael J. Sadowsky and colleagues cite several previous studies showing that E. coli and bacteria indicating fecal contamination can accumulate and grow in beach sand. "These results indicate that E. coli originating from several sources may survive and potentially replicate in sand and sediment, possibly increasing fecal counts found on beaches," the report states. The researchers point out that while most E. coli strains are harmless, some strains do cause gastrointestinal diseases in human. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, as well as more serious conditions.

The 2-year study tracked seasonal variations in E. coli in water, sand, and sediment at the Duluth Boat Club Beach in Duluth-Superior Harbor on Lake Superior. It concluded that beach sand and sediment serve as sinks and sources for E. coli from humans and waterfowl that can contribute to beach closures.

ARTICLE #2 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE "Beach Sand and Sediments are Temporal Sinks and Sources of Escherichia coli in Lake Superior"


Michael J. Sadowsky, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota
Duluth, Minnesota 55108
Phone: 612-624-2706
Fax: 612-625-2208


Fireworks displays linked to perchlorate contamination in lakes
Environmental Science & Technology

Fourth of July fireworks displays, often held over lakes and other bodies of water to minimize the risk of fire, can deposit significant amounts of perchlorate into the water, according to a study scheduled for the June 1 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's Richard T. Wilkin and colleagues, who did the research, point out that concerns have arisen over the effects of environmental perchlorate on human health and wildlife. Sources of perchlorate range from lightening and certain fertilizers to the perchlorate compounds in rocket fuel and explosives.

Scientists long suspected that community fireworks displays were another source, but few studies had been done on the topic.

Wilkin's group definitely established fireworks displays as a source of perchlorate contamination by analyzing water in an Oklahoma lake before and after fireworks displays in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Within 14 hours after the fireworks, perchlorate levels rose 24 to 1,028 times above background levels. Levels peaked about 24 hours after the display, and then decreased to the pre-fireworks background within 20-80 days.

ARTICLE #3 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE "Perchlorate Behavior in a Municipal Lake Following Fireworks Displays"


Richard T. Wilkin, Ph.D.
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ada, Oklahoma 74820
Phone: 580-436-8874
Fax: 580-436-8730


An improved fluorescent sensor material for detecting explosives
Journal of the American Chemical Society

Scientists in the United States and China are reporting development of a new type of fluorescent sensing material that could lead to innovative devices for rapid detection of explosives in security screening, criminal investigations, and other applications. Their report is scheduled for the June 20 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.

In the study, Southern Illinois University's Ling Zang and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Chinese Academy of Sciences point out that fluorescent-based sensors signal the presence of explosives by losing their glow. Such existing devices, however, have serious limitations, which created the need for a new generation of sensor materials.

The new fluorescent film, made from nanofibrils, overcomes those disadvantages. In laboratory tests, it sensed the presence of vapors from TNT and a related explosives compound with greater effectiveness than existing materials. After sensing the compounds and losing its fluorescence, the material recovered its ability to fluoresce repeatedly during the tests. The experiments suggested that sensors made from the material would resist deterioration from exposure to sunlight, another drawback with existing sensor materials.

ARTICLE #4 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE "Detection of Explosives with a Fluorescent Nanofibril Film"


Ling Zang, Ph.D.
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, Illinois 62901
Phone: 618-453-6483
Fax: 618-453-6408

Jeffrey S. Moore, Ph.D.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois 61801
Phone: 217-244-4024
Fax: 217-244-8024


Mom & Pop gold miners threaten new wave of mercury pollution
Chemical & Engineering News

Could tons of neurotoxic mercury now stored in the United States wind up in the hands of poverty-stricken gold miners in developing countries and eventually be released into the environment, where it could end up entering the human food chain" An article scheduled for the May 28 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine, explores that possibility in a script that reads like an environmental version of the hit film, Blood Diamond.

The article, written by C&EN Senior Editor Cheryl Hogue, reveals a little-known market for mercury , a toxic liquid metal now being phased out for most industrial uses in developed countries because of toxicity, among millions of small-scale gold miners in Asia, South America and Africa. Miners add mercury as they sift soil and rock, knowing that mercury will capture bits of the precious metal to form an alloy from which the gold then can be separated and sold . During the retrieval process, , the alloy is heated and toxic mercury is driven into the air.

C&EN describes upcoming decisions in which U. S. government officials will influence the fate of tons of mercury now housed in 8 domestic industrial facilities, in the face of market forces involving intense demand for the toxic metal among small-scale gold miners. These decisions will also affect U.S. recycling companies that reclaim mercury from waste such as discarded compact fluorescent light bulbs and thermostats, and that financially depend on selling that mercury on the world market.

ARTICLE # 5 EMBARGOED FOR 9 A.M., EASTERN TIME, May 28, 2007 "Mercury in Aging Chemical Plants Could End in and on the Hands of Gold Miners"

This story will be available on May at:

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

Journalists' Resources

General Chemistry Glossary
Science Elements: ACS Audio Clips

ACS Updates: Hot research that can be a treasure trove for journalists seeking news and feature topics, or trying to keep current in rapidly-evolving scientific disciplines.

Forensic Science

Concise summaries of articles on forensic science published from 2005-2006 in a dozen major journals, courtesy of ACS' Analytical Chemistry

News, features, background, sources from ACS National Meeting

News media resources from the March 25-29 meeting in Chicago include more than 9,000 abstracts of technical presentations and more than 1,000 non-technical summaries in a searchable database, plus press releases, podcasts, and other material. If you are researching or sourcing stories on chemistry-related topics, this resource can be a treasure trove accessible at:

Green Goals for the Pharmaceutical Industry

The ACS Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable has developed a list of priority research areas where "green" alternatives to conventional reactions are needed to develop medications with minimal impact on the environment. Their review paper, describes and prioritizes research needs,. It can be a valuable resource for journalists writing about green chemistry. Although the paper focuses on pharmaceuticals, it includes reactions and processes used by the broader chemical enterprise.

Mark Your Calendars

11th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference This pioneering conference on one of the hottest topics in chemistry will be held June 26-29, 2007 at the Capital Hilton hotel in Washington, DC.


The American Chemical Society -- the world's largest scientific society -- is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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