Short items

Plastic balls cut carcinogens

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has dropped 400 000 floating plastic balls into the Ivanhoe Reservoir, and plans to add 3 million more. The balls are intended to prevent sunlight from reaching the water and triggering a photochemical reaction between bromine and chlorine to produce bromate, a known carcinogen.  
Los Angeles Times  , 10 June 2008 

Chemist buried in Pringles tin 

Organic chemist Fredric Baur, who in 1970 received a patent for the Pringles crisps container he developed for Procter & Gamble, was so proud of his invention he requested to be buried in one. Baur, who died on 4 May, also developed new frying oils, and freeze dried ice cream, while working in research for P&G. 
The Enquirer  , 31 May 2008 

US drug testing on war veterans 

The US government is running drug trials on military veterans - and in one such test with Pfizer’s anti-smoking drug Chantix, took three months to inform participants of potential psychotic side effects. The warning came after one veteran, already suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, became confused and psychotic after taking Chantix, and had to be Tasered by police. 
The Washington Times  , 18 June 2008 

Suncream can kill coral 

Residues from sunscreen that wash off in the sea can cause coral bleaching, killing the organism and triggering collapse of the reef ecosystem, say researchers. The UV filters found in all sunscreen causes the bleaching, and the researchers suggest 10 per cent of the world’s coral reefs are at risk. 
The Times  , 24 May 2008 

Say it with palladium 

Couples are increasingly turning to palladium for their wedding rings, as the price of platinum continues to rise. Up to half of engagement and wedding rings are now made of palladium, which looks identical to platinum but costs under a third of the price. Palladium will be given hallmark status later this year. 
The Daily Telegraph  , 21 May 2008