December 25, 2007
RIFM Opens its Fragrance/flavor database to nonmembers
According to an article in Beauty Packaging Magazine - Formerly Cosmetic Packaging & Design RIFM (Research Institute for Fragrance Materials) will open its Database of Fragrance and Flavor Materials to non-members directly engaged in the fragrance or flavor industry to allow them easy access to data to facilitate REACH registration. The database contains extensive information on more than 5000 fragrance and flavor materials,with over 53,000 references to more than 111,000 studies.
This may help the smaller fragrance manufacturers to comply with REACH, but since a subscription will still be necessary, it's not clear whether it will be cost effective for very small companies, and won't provide access to member company or RIFM sponsored full study reports.
REACH is a new European Community regulation on chemicals and their safe use (stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances) which entered into force on June 1, 2007.
December 19, 2007
Chemical Plant Explodes in Florida: Produces essential oil products
The chemical plant that exploded in Florida today produces environmentally friendly products that are derived from essential oils, according to Environmental News Service.
T2 Labs specializes in the manufacture of specialty terpene solvents from citrus and pine-derived feedstocks.
The company also manufactures a number of limonene-type solvents from turpentine, the essential oil of the pine tree.
Another of the company's solvents is made of d-limonene, a by-product of citrus oil processing used for wipe-cleaning in aerospace applications.
It isn't clear whether the explosion had anything to do with the essential oil products. None of the products that they produce has any use in the aromatics industry, although they do product biorational pesticides that "are environmentally sound and closely resemble chemicals produced by insects and plants."
As of this writing, there was no information available as to the cause of the accident. Obviously some of the chemicals manufactured, particularly the pine derived solvents, are flammable.
The italicized statement in paragraph 2 of the quote above from the ENS article may be incorrect, since even though turpentine contains limonene, it is a lesser constituent than the pinenes, which have traditionally been the major constituent used. According to Product Data Sheets on the company's web site the limonene products appear to be citrus derived.
UPDATE: As of Dec 21 an article in the local Jacksonville paper reveals that a pipe ruptured before the explosion, that one of the company owners was killed in the explosion, and that the investigation of the causes by the Chemical Safety Hazard and Investigation Board (CSB) may take up to 18 months.
December 17, 2007
Carrot Seeds . . .
Ever wonder what a carrot seed (Daucus carota) looks like under the microscope, before distillation? Check it out here at the National Geographic Photo Gallery. It should be the first picture for 2008.
December 15, 2007
Michael Pollan - the convergence of sustainability issues
In an article in the New York Times Magazine, Michael Pollan (author of The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore's Delight ) raises the question of how sustainability can be defined and what the signs will be of the failure of our current non-sustainable agricultural system. He discusses in detail two issues that have arisen in the past year (and have been discussed in this blog here and here, for example) that may be the signs that we need to be able to recognize it: MRSA and CCD (that's Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus and Colony Collapse Disorder for the acronymically impaired).
It seems that a new strain of MRSA has now crossed from a major concentration in pigs in the Netherlands into the human food chain, and is now responsible for more than 20% of the MRSA cases in Europe. Pollan speculates that it's probably present in the US also; we just haven't looked yet. Looking would be a threat because fixing the problem will probably require major changes to our current system of agriculture.
The other issue Pollan discusses is CCD. In particular he talks about the almond pollination frenzy in California, where over half the hives in the US (as well as hives from Australia and probably other parts of the world) are transported to the California almond growing area to pollinate the trees which produce most of the world's Almond crop. Research published a few months ago suggested that the cause of CCD may be a virus from Australia, but the USDA has denied that to be the case on the grounds that the virus has been known in the US since 2002, but CCD has only shown up in 2006. Pollan understates the case, merely pointing out that all those bees are flying around together during that week. I guess that leaves it to people like me to wonder out loud if this doesn't provide an ideal situation for transmission of the virus throughout the country and present the opportunity for disaster.
. . . the story of Colony Collapse Disorder and the story of drug-resistant staph are the same story. Both are parables about the precariousness of monocultures. Whenever we try to rearrange natural systems along the lines of a machine or a factory, whether by raising too many pigs in one place or too many almond trees, whatever we may gain in industrial efficiency, we sacrifice in biological resilience. The question is not whether systems this brittle will break down, but when and how, and whether when they do, we’ll be prepared to treat the whole idea of sustainability as something more than a nice word.
December 11, 2007
Clarins defends itself (and Angel perfume)
According to an article in Cosmetics Design, the French perfume company Clarins has fought back against an attack by the National Toxic Encephalopathy Foundation (NTEF) (reported on this blog here and here, with a response from the NTEF in a comment) claiming that Angel Perfume contains a "poison" and should be banned. The Clarins response reports that the President of NTEF had lost a lawsuit against Clarins, and is now seeking revenge against the company.
A legal spokesperson for Clarins told CosmeticsDesign.com that the allegations made by the Las Vegas-based group NTEF are highly misleading. He said NTEF president Angel De Fazio had filed a lawsuit against Clarins in October 2004 claiming that one spray of the company's Angel Parfum had left her permanently disabled. . . .
After a lengthy legal battle De Fazio's claims were dismissed in January 2007 and the court ruled that the allegations were without merit and brought in bad faith. She was ordered to pay Clarins $77,851 in costs, fees and sanctions.
Angel perfume contains coumarin, which can be hazardous in large amounts, but is unlikely to be dangerous in the low concentrations found in perfumes (except possibly for perfume-allergic individuals). The NTEF plans an intense campaign against Clarins over the next several months, according to the article.
While researching this article I turned up this blog post from October 2006, which demonstrates that the campaign has been going on for awhile. Also, the FDA petition from the NTEF reported on earlier is apparently now open for public comments. (Open until April 2008.) It appears that the NTEF plans additional petitions, some possibly against other products. Stay tuned . . .
December 10, 2007
WA sandalwood set to dominate world trade
. . . according to this article, when a new processing plant will be built in Kununurra, Western Australia next year. (And another recent article says the same thing.) The articles refer to "Indian Sandalwood" so presumably this Santalum album and not the S. spicata that is currently being grown in WA. An earlier article states that the first harvest will be in 2012, so perhaps they are being a bit optimistic about taking over the world immediately. Hopefully, if the oil is any good, it will help drive the price down some.
December 09, 2007
Solarkat's Eco blog: Aromatherapy Information
Solarkat blogs about aromatherapy information including Rose geranium, rose, petitgrain sur fleur, bay, ylang ylang, using essential oils neat, and absorbency, expanded from forum posts she's made over the last several months.
Solarkat's Eco blog is a real weblog, as opposed to the ones that are designed to collect money from Google ads that are taking over the Internet. She has lots of good links to aromatherapy sites, she imparts a variety of information about aromatherapy, and when she recommends products she links to several sources that she knows about. She is an eco oriented student, currently taking Jeanne Rose's Home aromatherapy course, and she hopes to have her own business someday.
There are a number of aromatherapy related posts on this blog; you may need to go to the home page and then scroll down the page a ways to find the archive links. Well recommended for the non-professional aromatherapy user.
New Orleans - Times-Picayune profiles displaced aromatherapist
The Times-Picayune Updates Blog profiles displaced aromatherapist Andrea Falgout Hirt, who has relocated her business to Marthas Vineyard since hurricane Katrina drove her away. Madam Falgoux Aromatherapie Emporium is now located in downtown Vineyard Haven. She also has a web page.
December 03, 2007
Best Treatment for MRSA uses essential oils
A laboratory study indicates that an antibacterial product that combines tea tree oil and white thyme oil with benzethonium chloride kills common types of non-hospital MRSA bacteria better than other compounds studied. The findings were presented at a meeting of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists by an Oregon State University professor. The article I read stresses the benzethonium chloride as the main ingredient and barely mentions the essential oils, which are probably the active ingredients.
The other two compounds tested were standard antibacterial creams available over-the-counter at a pharmacy that contain antibiotics, and of course it makes sense that they wouldn't be very effective against MRSA, which stands for "methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus", ie. antibiotic resistant bacteria, and in fact actually contribute to the resistance due to the way they work.
The compound is sold by Tec Laboratories of Albany, Oregon, who funded the research study.
Some online research reveals that Benzethonium chloride, which is listed as an active ingredient on the MSDS for the compound, is a synthetic bactericide which apparently becomes an active ingredient "naturally" of Grapefruit Seed Extract when it is ammoniated during the manufacturing process (not used that way here). The same MSDS lists tea tree oil and thyme oil as "Inactive ingredients," which seems strange because if they are actually inactive they they probably aren't actually needed in the product, unless their purpose is to impart an odor that makes the product seem "medicinal."
So the question remains: is the Benzethonium chloride the primary bactericide here or is the effectiveness of the product actually due to the essential oils? Or perhaps it's the combination.