Short items, February 2011

LEDs are hazardous waste

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) should be classified as hazardous waste according to a study in the US. LEDs are advertised as environmentally friendly because they are energy efficient. But acid tests that mimic the chemical conditions encountered in landfill registered high levels of copper, lead, nickel and silver, which exceed California standards for hazardous waste. See Environ. Sci. Technol. (DOI: 10.1021/es101052q). 

Larger role for science 

The final report of the presidential oil spill commission in the US, which investigated the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (see Chemistry World, November 2010, p14), calls for more science to better protect the environment. Among the commission’s recommendations was an independent agency that would have a large science component, incorporating a Leasing and Environmental Science Office that would voice any future environmental concerns. 

ITER budget deal falls through 

The plan to use 


1.4 billion (?1.2 billion) of unused 2010 European Union money to cover a budget shortfall for the ITER fusion reactor project in France (see Chemistry World, September 2010, p9) has fallen through. The projected cost of ITER has more than doubled in the past few years, meaning that there will not be enough money to advance the project in 2012-13.

Say What?

It’s like a backpack on an elephant  

Alexander Golovanov describing his 3D images of a herpes virus protein hijacking human proteins to spread infection. The discovery could help develop a treatment. The research is published in PLoS Pathog. (DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001244).