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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Frock Horror

Over the last few years when trying to buy clothing, often we pass bargains up because the item I want does not smell right. It has been difficult to place, but was usually a sharp sour smell.

But often, we take a chance and give them a wash before wearing. This has usually taken away the smell but at the cost of the garment losing texture and sometimes colour.

It means that cheap clothing means cheap materials. They do not last and the colours soon change. But we live in a throwaway culture and it is now very expensive and difficult to find old style materials which will last for years.

It was obvious that the stiffening and the rest must have been a chemical treatment of the cloth during manufacture. Quite how bad this is now being revealed and is receiving attention. It does not make pleasant reading:

What has been worse is that to cover the smell and other smells that clothing might pick up, it is now common to add fragrance substances. These, typically, are designed to last for at least ten dry cleaning operations or thirty washes.

Effectively, that means well beyond the “life” of most of those garments. All is not lost because we still have some garments bought decades ago that still last and do not have these problems.

But we are still reluctant to wear them, not because of fashion, but all too often out there they will pick up fragrances and deodorant substances which cannot be washed out at all.

It is not a win/lose situation, it is now lose/lose.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Heavy Water

It is a common place now to suggest that one of the major issues for humanity is the water supply in economics and communities across the world. The growth of population; the additional need for water for production, not just of food but in many industries and other requirements have begun to run ahead of supplies now and in the future.

This applies to all economies. For the poorest it is largely self evident, for the richest it is a matter of realising that major infrastructure work is now urgent and decisions have to be made soon and acted on quickly.

But it is not just gross supply there is the matter of quality. There are many potential contaminants and pollutants both in the sources and in the distribution. The USGS have been routinely monitoring US supplies as does Europe and others. Many countries have limited or scant monitoring facilities.

The article below from New Scientist deals with one form of pollution that is becoming more common and is as dangerous as any, the presence of heavy metals at levels much higher than the human body can tolerate.

These arise from various forms of major and other industry notably in much of modern technology. But these metals, now in fine particle form can be found in many consumer products, whether we realise or not.

Once into the soil or penetrating to ground water or simply in ordinary water the extent is building up and we do not yet realise that sometimes critical levels are being reached.

An essential source of our well being and life is slowly being damaged and for some populations could soon be at the point of no return.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Mind Matters

Around thirty or more years ago I was involved with a number of people dealing with the placement and education of youngsters with significant learning and behavioural problems. It was not an easy business. Our psychologists were firmly wedded to their tests.

That these had been published and were based on their own data etc. did not help because any questions or added considerations in relation to placements could make a dent in the income they derived from the sales or even destroy the findings of their research.

Meanwhile our elderly local consultant psychiatrist was a devoted Jungian. This was all very well but unhelpful and a cause of recrimination when I was suggested other medical issues could be involved. He was as resistant to other medical investigations as were the psychologists.

For both these what had really got their backs up was when with other doctors we had put in hand extensive vision and hearing tests for every child at the bottom end of the ability range. Even we were shocked by the numbers who were found to have a clear problem to one extent or another.

What was a particular worry to me was how little anybody knew at that time about what exactly was going on in the brain, a highly complex organ about which there were may theories but few real facts. What put the cap on it was when a senior official from Whitehall came round our region telling us how many youngsters with a particular rare problem we should have.

He was a classicist wholly ignorant of the science of statistics and its more intricate implications. As the problem in my view was a brain problem and unusual I felt we had to deal with them on a case by case basis and not just apply a rubber stamp dictated by officials.

Time has moved on and mercifully we are beginning to learn more. The first link concerns how scientists can now find more information from modern methods of looking into the brain.

This deals with the increase in numbers given CT scans in hospitals in America and these are increasing regarded there as necessary to dealing with a wide range of conditions.

This one refers to the importance of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease to be seen by neurologists as well as or rather than other disciplines:

What a pity it is that it is so difficult in the NHS for even severe stroke victims to have the benefit of all this. Unless, of course, you are a professional footballer with significant toe damage.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Science Down The Pan

If anyone wondered just how much science and to what level is given to the making and content of many consumer goods, the article below is an indication. It is about slow release mechanisms in applying fragrance chemicals.

The money comes from, I quote, “Gudmundsdottir's team has received research support from the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund, UC's University Research Council, Ohio Supercomputer Center and the English Speaking Union.”

In short a good deal of public money is involved that is primarily educational in intent. This is the article:

There is the aspect of the medical application, but in the article this is secondary to the importance of achieving the objectives to the smell of cleaning fluids.

It is good to know what the academic priorities of our science research are about. First, make the toilet smell stronger and longer, second think about whether there is any use in treating the sick.

There is no current research in the UK into dealing with or treating perfume allergy or the inflammatory lung conditions arising from chemical pollution.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Personal Magnetism

In the last decade or so with the increase in the number, power and variety of electronic products a little known effect has been that numbers of people have been sensitized to the magnetic fields they produce.

How many is not known and it is rarely diagnosed except in the more extreme cases where it is apparent that exposure to high or any level gives a marked reaction.

With electronics, often complex, now embedded and necessary to many of the products now necessary to modern life quite what the extent and implications are is giving rise to greater debate.

This Science Daily item is about research which raises that question that Asthma in childhood might be encourage or caused by exposure to magnetic fields.

We all are on a planet which depends on its magnetic fields for survival. Our bodies are all within this and contain elements of magnetism. There has to be the possibility that too much could disrupt.

It is also possible that reactions may vary between individuals and groups. Also that it might affect the unborn as much as the living.