Our cover story, “The great fluoride debate,” opens up a metaphorical can of worms about the value of adding this environmentally ubiquitous chemical to drinking water. Some municipalities in Canada, Europe and the United States have opted to ban fluoride from public water supplies — despite widespread medical consensus supporting its efficacy for preventing caries, or cavities — on the grounds that it may actually cause health problems and can be sufficiently sourced through the use of toothpaste. Such claims, however, are largely unsubstantiated, due to the lack of systematic reviews on water fluoridation, which has given both critics and proponents leeway to overstate risks or benefits.
ACCN’s new contributor, Patchen Barss of Toronto, penned this issue’s “Nanomaterials tailor made” about the inimitable Goeffrey Ozin. A University of Toronto nanochemist who just won the 2015 Royal Society of Chemistry Centenary Prize, Ozin first learned about the beauty and complexity of materials, not from a fellow scientist, but his couturier father, who ran a tailor shop in London, England a half century ago.
Also featured is a story about an upstart Vancouver company, Performance Biofilaments — currently scoping out a manufacturing location — where it will undertake the commercialization of cellulose bioproducts for use in strengthening and lightweighting plastics and concrete and modifying the rheology of paints and coatings. In particular, the company is trying to fill a need for injection-moulded plastics for the automotive sector, which will soon have to meet new global fuel efficiency standards, necessitating the switch to lightweight materials for cars and trucks.
Our Chemical News section features an intriguing range of stories. One details efforts to decipher the intricate chemical patterns that give stem cells the ability to replace diseased and damaged cells in the body. Another features the latest in innovative architectural materials: honeycomb-shaped bricks made from oyster mushrooms that are sprouting up on the University of British Columbia campus. There’s also an environmental story out of Newfoundland and Labrador that looks at concerns over a new hydroelectric station and its potential to generate methylmercury in quantities large enough to affect the land where the Inuit harvest game.
All in all, good reading as you hang out at the pool, backyard or cottage this summer.