Sciencegeist: Toxic Carnival: Day 4

Originally posted may 25, 2012

Sorry that I didn’t update this yesterday. I was busy at NIST doing sciencey stuff. It was very productive, actually. I certainly wouldn’t have been as productive sitting at my desk with all of the fabulous #ToxicCarival posts from yesterday.

Here they are:

1) The Organic Solution Jess confirmed the idea that our favorite toxic molecules likely contain fluorine! She starts off with a description of the history and toxicity of F2 and then moves into the wonderful world of organo-fluorine molecules.

2) Chemistry Blog Azmanam takes us on a tour of the history of nitroglycerine. This is a much better way to get up close and personal with the molecule than driving a dump truck through a nitroglycerine plant. My favorite line from the post was: “Yeah, with enough soap, one could blow up just about anything, if one were so inclined”. Go and check it out!

3) Scientifics Steve brings us back from the world of “scarier” molecuels and writes about molecules we are all comfortable with in our everyday lives. Water, caffeine, and acetaminophen are good reminders that molecules in our “comfort-zone” can even be dangerous.

4) Chemistry World Blog Patrick introduces us (at least in this carnival) to the “silent killer”, carbon monoxide. He goes through the toxicity of this molecule and its mechanism of action. But, in the spirit of what we are doing here, shows us how our body relies on CO for proper development. Bonus picture of a canary … tho not in a coal mine.

5) Cleantech Chemistry Melissae discusses nitrates, some of the most useful and, potentially, most damaging chemicals around. We rely on nitrates as fertilizers that grow our foods. (Estimates have shown that industrially developed fertilizers are responsible for one third of the world’s population.) But overuse of these fertilizers can lead to really nasty environmental effects. Reminders again that we need to learn how to be better stewards of the molecules we employ. (Welcome to Central Science, Melissae!!)

6) The Safety Zone Jyllian treats us to some wonderful stories concerning water and oxygen. Obviously we need these molecules to live. But dangers lurk behind this friendly facade. Overconsumption of water has been responsible for many deaths, as Jyllian shares in her post. Oxygen too is rather dangerous. Remove humans to an atmosphere that is 50% oxygen (instead of 20%) and we will suffer rapid damage to the lungs and eyes. And, anyone who has seen a charcoal grill started with liquid oxygen knows what this molecule is capable of.

7) Hoppin’ ‘Round the World Captain Pegleg brings it back to food (always a favorite here) and writes about capsaicin. Capsaicin is the molecule in peppers that is responsible for the “heat” that we sense. The heat is a warning to us that we are eating something dangerous. But, we continue to eat this poison. In fact, many people search it out! This post comes with a bonus picture of a capsaicin tattoo! That’s hot! :) (sorry)