Putting together this issue of ACCN has been a fascinating trip through different universes: from the miniature world of nanotechnology to oil and gas extraction via fracking to the more gentle domain of bees. The story on the fracking sector, written by ACCN’s newest contributor Mark Lowey of Calgary, provides excellent insights into the chemicals that are causing such a public furor. It is no surprise that one of the recommendations coming out of the story is that federal and provincial governments need to demand greater accountability from the industry through improved legislation and environmental scrutiny.

Another feature presents the latest buzz on another controversy — the effect of neonicotinoids on bees, which are key pollinators beloved for their benign and industrious natures, not to mention their honey. Mass bee die-offs have sparked demands from bee growers and the public alike to ban neonicotinoids used on crops and fields. But bee physiology and epidemiology is complex and the deaths cannot be blamed solely on these useful agricultural chemicals.

Another feature ventures into the miniature world of nanotechnology. Created from a variety of materials, including metals like silver, gold, titanium and copper, nanoparticles are proving highly useful in the manufacturing, clothing, cosmetic and medical sectors. However, there are indications that nanoparticles are having negative impacts on the environment and we explore this possibility.

In addition to the regular lineup of stories and columns, the Chemical News section offers a diversity of stories embracing such cutting edge technologies as the capacitive deionization of brackish water and the elimination of toxic bauxite residue in aluminium production. We also highlight research into how heat affects the magnetic properties of a metal oxide, as well as a clever initiative by two PhD students to ensure that leftover laboratory chemicals don’t go to waste.

We at ACCN are looking forward to an exciting 2015, including the unveiling of a new column titled Policy Pundit that is guaranteed to pull no punches. Have a wonderful holiday season and happy New Year!