Friday, September 30, 2005
(UPDATE- I tried to put the links in as best I could (typos in the original URLs). You may need to hit the refresh button after you click the link once) ELMO.
I want to extend my thanks to everyone who has sent ideas and suggestions of ways ACS can help our members, families, students, and institutions affected by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
You may recall that ACS efforts began with a resolution on August 31 by the Council of the Society at the ACS National Meeting in Washington, D.C. expressing its deep concern. Please see here. We continue to encourage members to donate to relevant agencies who are able to address immediate short-term disaster relief. To address longer-term needs, Board Chair Jim Burke, Executive Director/CEO Madeleine Jacobs, and I have taken the following actions:
* We have created the Hurricane Katrina Response Task Force, chaired by Board Member Eric Bigham. This task force has members with extensive knowledge of the expertise in our Local Sections, Divisions, and Committees.
* We have created a Web “blog” to help connect those members within and outside the region affected by Hurricane Katrina. We also have created a place within the main blog for ACS members to share Katrina-related observations gathered from our members, their families, and friends.
* We have alerted the committees and divisions with expertise in environmental science and chemical health and safety and asked for volunteers to collaborate and share expertise with state and federal environmental authorities. In the next few weeks, we hope to have a list of priority actions for ACS to implement.
* We have asked the ACS Task Force to focus much of its efforts on understanding the longer-term needs facing colleges and universities and other institutions in the region.
* The Membership Division, Publications Division, and Chemical Abstracts Service have taken steps to assist institutions and individual customers in the afflicted areas; and a number of ACS divisions and local sections are providing services or offering expertise to assist students, faculty, and others in need.
* We have asked that the new ACS Legal Assistance Network (ACS Comment, C&EN, August 29), provide legal triage specifially related to Katrina. This service is available through the website of the Chemistry and the Law Division.
* Finally, we will send one e-mail to all members describing the Society’s response. A more detailed version of this letter may be found in the September 26 issue of Chemical & Engineering News.
We’re all trying to do our part. As ACS President, I welcome additional suggestions of ways we can help via the blog or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I urge you to keep giving and volunteering to aid in the relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts needed to overcome this unprecedented disaster.
William F. Carroll, Jr.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
The flap involves the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) PubChem, which ACS leaders see as a threat to the fee-based Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) (Science, 2 September, p. 1473). Details on the Chemistry Information Sources Discussion List
Here is a brief explanation of the fight to support PubChem, from the SPARC E-News April-May 2005:
SPARC last week issued an action alert encouraging members to support the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in its effort to develop the PubChem online database. PubChem is under assault by the American Chemical Society (ACS), who is calling on Congress to restrict the freely accessible database. PubChem connects chemical information with facts in numerous public databases and is a critical component of NIH's Molecular Libraries Initiative, which in turn is a key element of the NIH strategic “roadmap” to speed new medical treatments and improve healthcare.
ACS claims that PubChem competes with its Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). In reality, PubChem and the Chemical Abstracts Service databases are complementary, not duplicative. If ACS succeeds in eliminating PubMed, it will hamper scientific progress. The University of California Office of Scholarly Communication lays out the facts of this issue in The American Chemical Society and NIH's PubChem. This page collects the position statements, the major documents, and a list of actions that researchers can take to support PubChem.
Thanks to Brian Lynch for raising this issue.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Monday, September 19, 2005
My name is Brian Wagner and I am a new member of an organization called Chemists Without Borders (CWB) that has started in the United States. Our organization is interested in bettering the world through chemistry. Our primary goals include, but are not limited to: providing vaccines and affordable medicine to those who need them, developing clean water technology, and renewable energy. Our website is www.chemistswithoutborders.org. Dr. Steve Chambreau (co-founder of CWB) emailed me an article from Chemical and Engineering News about your research regarding arsenic removal from groundwater via ground water hyacinth root. I found the results intriguing and hopeful. Each member of CWB has been asked to develop a project that we feel provides a public benefit. I am very interested in building an arsenic remediation system using water hyacinth, but I could use some additional information to help with the design. How many grams of dried root was required to achieve the 93-95% removal efficiency? How many liters of water was in contact with the root? Does a longer contact time with the root provide for a greater removal of arsenic or is there a point of diminished return? Did you pass more than one aliquot of contaminated water through the same powdered root? If so, did you see breakthrough or reduced removal efficiency after addition of more than one aliquot of water? Did you note any interferences from groundwater geochemistry (i.e., high iron, manganese, phosphate concentrations reducing removal efficiency) What would become of the powdered root after it's ability to absorb arsenic reaches the breakthrough point and needs to be replaced? Is it considered a hazardous waste? On behalf of CWB, I would greatly appreciate any additional information you could provide. Your research is very promising. I like the idea of using a natural resource (especially an unwanted weed) to achieve a remediation goal. In addition to delivering clean water, I can envision the start-up of small businesses to harvest and prepare the root for use in remediation systems, providing a local economic boost to area communities. Thanks for your time. Brian Wagner Chemists Without Borders
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Remediation systems have ranged from simple iron/sand filtration units at the household level to larger RO systems for villages. The only phytoremediation system that I read about utilized brake fern to uptake arsenic through its root system. It appeared useful for removing arsenic from soil (which would reduce the amount of arsenic in groundwater due to leaching). I haven't run across any reports that water hyacinth is being used in a real world application to remove arsenic. Some of the pitfalls that have plagued current remediation systems revolve around a good understanding of the groundwater chemistry before bring the system on-line. High concentrations of ferrous iron and mangenese will clog up systems when aerated. It has been noted that high phosphate concentrations also shorten the lifespan of some systems. I think it would be very prudent to have a good understanding of the groundwater chemistry before we tried to install a real-world system. Hach methods (using a spectrophotometer) can provide results in the field at a reasonable cost for iron, mangenese, and phosphates. The Hach method for arsenic would not be very useful in the field due to the complexity of the analysis and the hazardous waste disposal of reagents.
I have emailed Dr. Haris, whose paper has prompted all this activity at CWB, to gather additional information about his research that was not presented in the paper. He has not responded yet, but I think his answers will be very helpful to constructing a viable remediation system. I would propose that we think small (we would need to define that in terms of gallons of water treated or people served) at first to work out the kinks before trying our hand at a larger
system. I would also propose that the system be operated via renewable energy sources. I have some thoughts on what a "first draft" system could look like, but I have to go now. I appreciate any feedback. Thanks
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Monday, September 12, 2005
Sunday, September 11, 2005
PubChem now contains structures from LipidMAPs, a total of over 4.2 million structures and 3.2 million compounds.
The U.K. Green Party endorses mandated Open Access
Quick Thinking, OA, and Google save a life - from google blog.
Friday, September 09, 2005
I have just become a recent member of Chemists Without Borders with interests in clean water technology and renewable/alternative energy solutions for third world communities. I have spent many years working for testing laboratories and an environmental engineering company that focused on groundwater and soil testing and remediation resulting from hazardous waste releases.
During my email conversations with Steve Chambreau I mentioned that my wife and I live off the grid in central Vermont. VT may not be the sunniest place in the world, but one can live quite comfortably utilizing solar power. Steve asked if I would talk a little about living off the grid.
Our current set-up uses a photovoltaic array of eight(8) 63 watt solar panels wired together for 24 volt input into a battery bank (consisting of 12 large 2-volt cell batteries). The DC voltage stored in the batteries is inverted through a 1200 watt inverter and wired directly to our 120 volt AC circuit breaker box. The house is wired like any normal house (all outlets and lights are AC voltage). We also have a small micro-hydro system running off a nice waterfall next to the house, but keeping water running in Vermont winters has proved to be a challenge. Typically we rely on the solar. Large power tools and the washing machine run off a gas generator. If our inverter was 2400 watts instead of 1200 watts, we could probably eliminate the generator.
As you can imagine, when you are at the mercy of the sun shining or wind blowing, we tend to be very frugal with our power consumption whenever possible. All our lights are low watt halogen bulbs, our water pump is a low-watt shallow-well jet pump, and we don't have appliances like microwaves or electric dryers.
We have found living off the grid to be rewarding. We are much more cognizant of weather, changes in season and how much energy is consumed during our daily routines.
I would love to put renewable/alt energy systems in places where other people could benefit from them. I also see any clean water systems that we develop powered by renewable/alt energy as well.