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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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10 December 1997 8:00 pm
A new chemical foam can break down asbestos fibers in materials once used to fireproof homes, schools, and offices. The foam, announced at a press conference today by the chemical company W.R. Grace and the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, transforms asbestos to a harmless silicate compound while leaving fireproofing intact.
Asbestos fibers are tubes curled from sheets of magnesium and silicon oxides. The fibers help plaster adhere to walls and resist flames, but certain forms of asbestos are also potent carcinogens. For the last 2 decades, companies have been tearing asbestos fireproofing out of walls and replacing it with more benign fire retardants--a time-consuming and expensive activity that can release breathable asbestos fibers into the air.
Scientists at Grace, a firm in Boca Raton, Florida, that produces fireproofing materials, sought a way to eliminate asbestos fibers without having to rip up the woodwork. Working with Brookhaven, the researchers produced a foam composed of acids and fluoride ions that converts asbestos fibers to an amorphous form that appears to protect from flames just as well as asbestos. "What used to be asbestos becomes a nonregulated material," says Brookhaven project leader Leon Petrakis.