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Capsules of Chemicals

Packaging certain insecticides inside tiny plastic pellets may amplify their toxicity in the environment, a new study suggests. The same chemical used naked — suspended only in water — was significantly less toxic than its capsulated counterpart, researcher Stacy Harper reported recently in the journal Environment International. The chemical in question (a “pyrethroid” whose active […]

Microcosms for Nano

Many of the products we buy — sunscreen, stain- and odor-resistant clothing, fuel additives, sports equipment — contain nanoparticles that have been designed for a purpose. These materials (about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair) can block sunlight, prevent microbial growth, lubricate surfaces and confer tensile strength. However, in some cases, […]

From Zebrafish to You

On average, an individual encounters about 80,000 synthetic chemicals every day. So says Robert Tanguay, a toxicologist at Oregon State University. Many of those chemicals — from fire retardants in fabrics to drying agents in paint — are untested for toxicity to people. Tanguay and his research team are working to change that. Their results […]

After the Spill

The 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico brought up bad memories for Sarah Allan. The Oregon State University Ph.D. student, who grew up in southeast Alaska, was a child in 1988, when the Exxon Valdez struck a reef and dumped millions of gallons of crude into another rich marine ecosystem, Prince William Sound. […]

Regulating Immunity: Toxicologists seek novel gene therapies

Dioxin, the chemical pollutant made infamous by Vietnam-era defoliant Agent Orange, has long been known to suppress immune function in humans and other animals. Surprisingly, this dangerous side effect has a scientific silver lining. While studying the toxin’s health effects, researchers discovered the genetic pathway to immune system malfunction. For people who would actually benefit […]

Living Downwind

By collecting and testing the toxicity of particles in Northwest air samples, OSU Ph.D. student Julie Layshock is shedding light on the relative health threat posed by long-distance air pollution.