Watching out for Our Health

I have been reading up on a lot of different health topics recently. I had a scare in my family when my brother had chest pains, and we were all relieved to find out it was just indigestion. It scared me enough though to want to get healthier and help my family get the same way too. I have never had any health issues myself, but I learned a good bit from sites like That is where I learned about Coenzyme Q10, which is something that is naturally found in our bodies.

It is in every single cell in a body, and these cells use the CoQ10 to do just about anything and everything for the body. What I was mostly interested in though was the fact that it helps to protect the heart. » Read more: Watching out for Our Health

Third Hand Smoke – New Smoking Health Risk

We’ve all heard of “second hand smoke,” the result as smokers exhale and send carcinogens into the air around them. The harmful effects of second hand smoke are well established. Third hand smoke is less familiar.

The term was coined in 2009 by doctors out of Mass General Hospital for Children, and is used for the lingering gases and particles from tobacco smoke that cling to clothing, hair, skin, carpets, upholstery and even wallpaper.

We’ve all caught the odor of smoke after a smoker exits a confined space… this is a real world example of third hand smoke according to new research.

Science has long known that tobacco smoke is absorbed onto surfaces; until now no one had looked at what might happen when these residual molecules came into contact with common pollutants in the atmosphere.

Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ran lab tests and found “substantial levels” of toxins on smoke exposed material. Such residue can react with a common indoor pollutant to generate dangerous chemicals known as tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). This residue can hang around for weeks or even months.

So smokers who may not indulge around their children, or crack the window in the car and smoke with their children in back, are unknowingly exposing them to heavy metals, carcinogens and even radioactive materials long after the smoke from the cigarette has cleared.

According to the researchers, third-hand smoke is an unappreciated health hazard, adding fervor to the anti-smoking movement and the call for bans on smoking in homes, vehicles, hotels and other public places. Young children are especially susceptible because they are breathing in closer proximity to these surfaces, and are not hesitant about licking or sucking on them.

In the tests, contaminated surfaces were exposed to high but reasonable amounts of nitrous acid, a common enough thing in the air that can come from unvented gas appliances as well as most car engines and exhaust.

The exposure increased levels of newly formed TSNAs ten-fold. Traces of TSNAs were also seen on the inner surfaces of a truck that belonged to a heavy smoker.

Researcher Lara Gundel of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, concedes, “Smoking outside is better than smoking indoors but nicotine residues will stick to a smoker’s skin and clothing. Those residues follow a smoker back inside and get spread everywhere. Think about the lingering odor after a smoker comes back inside after a “smoke break”.

Of course smoking advocates are skeptical of the danger. Simon Clark, director of the UK smokers’ lobby group Forest said, “The dose makes the poison and there is no evidence that exposure to such minute levels is harmful. That doesn’t seem to matter, though. The aim, it seems, is to generate alarm in the hope that people will be stopped from smoking or will give up.”

Whatever you believe the new work suggests that making your home and vehicle smoke free is a smart choice, especially if you have small children about.

You can also limit exposure to third hand smoke and its after affects as much as possible – wash your hands, change clothes, brush your teeth after smoking and before holding or feeding babies and young children.

Evaluating Science Fair Experiment Ideas

Science fair projects help to achieve the impossible. Nowadays there is no famine of information and experiment ideas for science fair projects, but not all ideas are good ones. It can take a discerning eye to see the minute differences in between many of these projects, and if yours doesn’t stand out, then you are liable to be in trouble. However, armed with a good experiment idea, and some good information, you can create an excellent project.

There are three basic thoughts before choosing a topic for the science fair. This means narrowing down the project to one specific area. That is breaking down a big project into smaller ones and trying to solve them one by one. The second basic thought is to find out the right difficulty level. And the third one is choosing the right topic that is within the student’s capability.

After selecting the topic, design the test or display. The topic can be researched in the internet and in the library to get the available and related information. Then make a list of materials, ideas and thoughts that will affect the result. The outcome of the science fair experiment should be decided well ahead of time. Take down the procedure of the experiment and make a schedule to complete all the steps in the procedure one by one.

The main idea is to investigate a project that would ask questions, builds a hypothesis and derives a conclusion. Then check the hypothesis by constructing experiments using scientific methods. Experiments should be based on extensive research done from books, research papers or any other materials found in the library on the chosen topic. The report should illustrate the important concepts found in the research.

An experiment idea can be a project that consist either a compilation of objects or elements that has interesting artifacts. In this no hypothesis may be needed. It can also be a project that involves building up a model which may demonstrate a scientific principle.

An idea can come from anywhere. It can start from an idea. It can begin from what we see, hear, touch and smell around us in this world. It can also be a question asked and can be formed into a hypothesis and tested. This is science fair experiment idea in the creation. Science fair experiment ideas can be developed from an experience. It can be a thought about an issue in current events and form a hypothesis and draw a conclusion. There are thousands of sources of original ideas like these, or you can look for an idea on the internet or in textbooks at your local library.

Lastly, ideas should include safety measures. A laboratory should be a safe place to conduct the experiments. Think about the experiment all the time and what you are doing at that time to prevent accidents. Follow rules, safety measures and use good judgment to perform a project. This is of absolute importance, since no assignment should jeopardize your health.

With these ideas and experiments in place, you can begin to work on a very high quality project that will earn you an excellent grade.

Science Continues to Validate Aromatherapy – Now If We Could Only Change It’s Name

Origins of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy, or more fittingly named “aroma-medicine”, seeks to treat or prevent diseases using potent, aromatic essential oils. Since ancient times, aromatherapy has been used for prevention as well as cure. Hippocrates himself thought that aromatic baths and massage were a way to remain healthy. Today, aromatherapy and its holistic approach is one of the fastest growing therapies in the world.

Wellness Approach Using Aromatherapy

The approach to realign the body is mostly through inhalation, direct contact absorption and to a lesser degree ingestion of the essential oil either as a dilute or for some mild oils undiluted. With inhalation, the oils are thought to penetrate the bloodstream via lungs to activate the limbic system and emotional centers of the brain. When applied to the skin (usually in a carrier oil), they activate thermal receptors and kill pathogens (such as bacteria and fungi). If taken orally, essential oils are thought to activate the immune system.

Research in Science Studies

In western culture, validation of medical therapies comes through empirical research. Rising popularity of aromatherapy with main-stream society has prompted researchers to take a closer look at this ancient therapy. Although still largely unproven by a wide breadth of research, preliminary studies, both in vitro and clinical, show positive effects using this medicinal therapy.

Depression: At the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2009), researchers published a review of the effectiveness of aromatherapy to decrease depression and symptoms of depression arising from various types of chronic medical conditions. Continued use of aromatherapy for depression was supported with further controlled studies recommended.

The standard treatment for dementia in conventional medicine is to use neuroleptics or antipsychotic drugs. In elderly people such drugs are poorly tolerated, especially for patients with severe dementia. Researchers from the Wolfson Research Center, UK (2002) conducted a double-blind, placebo controlled study on using aromatherapy (combined with the antipsychotic) as a treatment for agitation in people with severe dementia. After 4 weeks of treatment, results indicated that there was a 35% improvement in agitation and that the active treatment (using Melissa officinalis) was well-tolerated by the patients. Researchers support further studies to investigate using aromatherapy as an adjunct or alternative to conventional treatments.

Anxiety: Laboratory results (using animals) indicate statistically significant differences when aromatherapy was applied. Clinical trials are few. Yet, one joint review by the University of Newcastle and Northumbria, United Kingdom (2006), looked at the pharmacology of essential oils and found evidence that essential oils exert measurable psychological effects in humans. Researchers concluded that aromatherapy provides a potentially effective treatment for a range of psychiatric disorders, especially since the side effects are minimal (if non-existent) compared to conventional psychotropic drugs.

Travel Excitement in Pets: Response to therapeutic treatments administered to animals is often much quicker than in humans. At the Queen’s University of Belfast Canine Behavior Center (2006), researchers looked at the effects of aromatherapy (diffused lavender essential oil) to manage travel excitement in dogs. Researchers found that dogs spent significantly more time at rest than moving around and recommended the use of aromatherapy as a practical alternative to expensive and sometimes adverse responses of traditional treatments.

Concluding Thoughts

Recent science studies indicate that aromatherapy is effective for conditions such as anxiety, depression and boosting cellular immune functions. In many of the studies reviewed, scientists are suggesting further research (rather than dismissing) for possible uses of essential oils as an alternative or complement to conventional medical practices. What has been used for centuries might soon find its place amongst hospitals and medical offices world-wide. The evolution of plant phytochemicals over millennia has served in the preservation of their species. It is likely that such chemicals will be soon sought after on a larger scale for human survival as well.

Top Eight Applications of Laboratory Centrifuges

Laboratory centrifuges are widely used in area of pharmaceuticals, life sciences, hospitals, chemicals, testing laboratories, blood banks and health centers etc to separation of various components of a thick liquid such as blood, urine or chemical solutions. Driven by a motor which utilizes centrifugal force to distribute of varying densities into separate sections, a laboratory centrifuge is commonly used for clinical and research purposes. Available in various capacities, some centrifuges have additional features such as refrigeration, heating and robotic control for use in many more applications.

Major Applications of a Laboratory Centrifuge

High speed centrifuges work on the principle of sedimentation and have been regularly used in laboratories for hundreds of years now for medical testing and separation purposes. These devices or machines operate on an electric motor with a shaft attached and work by spinning materials put in it at a very high velocity. The high speed and the centrifugal force separate the material into various components according to their individual gravity. The heavier items tend to flow down the centrifuge while the lighter ones remain up. Commonly used laboratory centrifuges either operate on swing out rotors in case of high volume but low speed applications and fixed angle rotors that are capable of running at a much higher speed. Let’s look at some of the common applications of these separating machines:

  1. Science and medical laboratories widely use these machines to separate proteins and chemicals by spinning the mixtures for a specific amount of time. These labs also separate plasma from blood to extract pure serums which are essential for several testing procedures.
  2. Testing laboratories often use the centrifugal machines to segregate the various components of urine and blood. This aids in identification of a possible ailment by examination of the various components via a microscope.
  3. High speed centrifuge is also commonly used in blood banks. Blood bank centrifuges are used to separate the various components of blood, such as separating the plasma for direct transfusion. This is done because certain patients are deficient of a particular component of blood, such as plasma or platelets, and need to be infused with only that component. High speed separators are very useful in processing large quantities of blood dealt by the blood banks.
  4. Pharmaceuticals and Chemical companies also use big centrifuge machines to separate various chemicals for analysis.
  5. The cosmetics industry also makes use of these separators to extract some natural products that are beneficial for skin and other applications.
  6. The oil and petroleum industries use high speed centrifuges to separate the unwanted components from the material extracted.
  7. Treatment of waste water.
  8. The Sugar industry uses these machines to separate sugar from liquor.

The laboratory centrifuge has been a momentous invention, taking research and development to a whole new level and giving mankind insight into the workings of various elements, chemicals and even the human body. Today a testing facility is considered incomplete if it does not possess a high speed centrifuge machine.

Science Fair Project on Testing Drinking Water

You are intelligent enough to know that the purpose of most science fair projects is to teach students how to use scientific methods to solve problems on their own. A science fair project can allow students, parents, and teachers to make new discoveries together. One of those discoveries might be how clean your drinking water is.

Students may expect faucet water to be clean, but is it? A science fair project on testing drinking water can help them learn what is in the water they use. This outline will help them and you conduct a drinking water test.

State Your Hypothesis

A good example might be, “If I test drinking water from different sources, which will I find to be the best for my health?” A poor example would be, “If I drink tap water, what happens?”

Background Research

Learn all that you can about what water may contain. Research the effects of various contaminants, minerals, etc.

Develop a Drinking Water Test

What kind of drinking water test will you use? What kinds of drinking water will you test? Will you buy a kit, or simply order appropriate test materials? How will you collect the water to be sure you do not change its content?

What You Need for Drinking Water Tests

Students will need Colorimetric test strips for many drinking water tests. Kits are available from science fair websites. Water Safe Drinking Water Test is an EPA standardized, laboratory certified simple kit that identifies harmful levels of 8 different common contaminants in water: bacteria, chlorine, lead, nitrates, nitrites, pesticides, pH, and water hardness.

Predict Results

Write out a prediction of what you expect. Will your city tap water be the best water for your health? Should your family pay money to drink only bottled water? What do you predict your drinking water test will reveal?

Conduct Your Drinking Water Test

Students may choose from many drinking water tests. Here are a few possible tests. Younger students may want to use only one. Older students may combine a series of drinking water tests.

1. Basic: A basic drinking water test might allow students to test water for alkalinity, chlorine (both free and total), nitrate and nitrite, pH, and water hardness. What is the basic make-up of your water?

2. Bacteria: Along with a basic drinking water test, you might test for bacteria in the water. Water from a drinking fountain may show bacteria that collect on the bubbler and wash into the water.

3. City Water: What is in municipal drinking water? You can use the basic drinking water tests above, but check, too, for metals and sediment. Are corroding pipes contaminating the water?

4. Well Water: Since the government does not test private wells, there may be contaminants in the water taken from them. What might you find? Would you expect more sediment or less? Would your drinking water test be likely to find pesticides if the well is near a farm or garden where they are used?

5. Bottled Water: Is bottled water really pure? Is it better than tap water or worse? Run a drinking water test on it and see what you find.

6. Water Cooler: If your water cooler is typical, a large five-gallon bottle is turned upside down into the drinking water crock. Might there be germs on the bottle top? Will a drinking water test show up these germs?

7. Pet Water Bowl: Pet drinking water tests will show you what your pet’s water contains. The pet bowl should not be cleaned right before the test. Allowing your pet to drink from it will show whether or not the water is still pure enough for humans.

Repeat Your Drinking Water Test

A good scientist repeats tests to be sure the results are the same. You will not have accurate results if you run your drinking water test only once.


Analyze the results of your tests. Which water is purer? Which one tastes better, looks better, and smells better? From your analysis, do you think your prediction will hold up?

Arrive at Conclusions

Draw conclusions from your drinking water test. Look at all the evidence and decide what it means in regard to healthy drinking water.

1. Which water contains the fewest contaminants?

2. Which water contains the fewest bacteria?

3. Which water is best for your health?

Prepare Your Display

Decide early how the display will look and leave plenty of time to complete it. Will you have photographs? Will you have clear glasses containing water samples? How will you display used test strips?

Most science fair projects require a display board to communicate your work to others. A three-panel display board that is 36″ tall by 48″ wide when unfolded is standard. On your board, include these elements.

1. Title: Make it catchy – and big enough to read from across a room.

2. Hypothesis and research: Organize your information from top to bottom, left to right, as though you were planning a newspaper page. Put Hypothesis and research information on the left side of your board.

3. Materials and procedures: Place this information just under your title in the middle of the board.

4. Data / Charts / Photos: These go at the bottom of the center part of your board.

5. Results and conclusions: The right side of your board holds the final information about your drinking water test.

A science fair project on testing drinking water can be interesting and exciting, appropriate for any age student. The results may surprise everyone.