Research on electronic waste, venom-resistant squirrels featured at Sacramento ACS meeting



Disposing of waste from consumer electronics, proteins that make some squirrels resistant to snake venom and new perspectives on teaching chemistry are among some of the topics highlighting the 39th Western regional meeting of the American Chemical Society in Sacramento, Calif., Oct. 27-30. Almost 200 papers will be presented and about 400 scientists are expected to attend the meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel. Highlights of the meeting include:

Electronic waste: Consumer electronics exceed hazardous waste criteria While consumer electronics may make our lives more productive and enjoyable, there's also a downside: hazardous waste. In one of the few studies of its kind to date, researchers with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control collected a wide range of consumer electronic devices, including cell phones, laptops, microwave ovens, printers, LCD monitors and plasma TVs, to determine their content of heavy metals, some of which may leach into the groundwater from landfills and pose toxicity. In order to facilitate analysis, the electronics were dismantled and ground into smaller components. The scientists found that all the devices contained toxic levels of some metals, including lead and copper, and exceeded at least one hazardous waste criterion based on state and federal regulations. California recently passed a landmark regulation that would divert some of these electronic waste products to recycling facilities instead of landfills. (Abstract 81, Thursday, Oct. 28, 11:40 a.m., DoubleTree Hotel, Sacramento Room)

Researchers identify proteins that make California ground squirrels resistant to snake venom The California ground squirrel may look like your run-of-the-mill furry rodent, but this tough little creature is one of only a small number of mammals that can resist the deadly venom of rattlesnakes. Now, researchers are a step closer to explaining how they do this. Scientists at the University of California-Davis have identified special enzyme inhibitors in the blood of these subterranean squirrels that are able to neutralize snake venom toxins. Their finding provides insight into the biochemistry of venom resistance and the evolutionary relationship between predators and their prey. (Abstract 25, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 4:05 p.m., talk, DoubleTree Hotel, Ballroom C; and abstract 182, Friday, Oct. 29, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., poster, Doubletree Hotel, Ballroom D)

Preparing for teaching chemistry: a first or second career A symposium on teaching chemistry will address a variety of issues, including encouraging undergraduate and graduate students to pursue teaching as a career, and training future teachers to teach chemistry at the middle school through university levels. One paper will highlight guidelines for helping industrial chemists make the transition to teaching high school chemistry. (Symposium, abstracts 6-13; Wednesday, Oct. 27, 9:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m., DoubleTree Hotel, Ballroom D)

Chocolate: food of the Gods Chocolate plays an integral role in world culture. Featured will be a discussion of the history of chocolate among the Mayans and Aztecs, the chemistry of cocoa and the health benefits of chocolate. Samples will be provided. (Thursday, Oct. 28, 6:00 p.m., DoubleTree Hotel, California Ballroom, Salon 3, $45 per ticket; free for reporters)

Source: Eurekalert & others

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