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Concept: Benzene


BACKGROUND: Lignin is often overlooked in the valorization of lignocellulosic biomass, but lignin-based materials and chemicals represent potential value-added products for biorefineries that could significantly improve the economics of a biorefinery. Fluctuating crude oil prices and changing fuel specifications are some of the driving factors to develop new technologies that could be used to convert polymeric lignin into low molecular weight lignin and or monomeric aromatic feedstocks to assist in the displacement of the current products associated with the conversion of a whole barrel of oil. We present an approach to produce these chemicals based on the selective breakdown of lignin during ionic liquid pretreatment. RESULTS: The lignin breakdown products generated are found to be dependent on the starting biomass, and significant levels were generated on dissolution at 160[degree sign]C for 6 hrs. Guaiacol was produced on dissolution of biomass and technical lignins. Vanillin was produced on dissolution of kraft lignin and eucalytpus. Syringol and allyl guaiacol were the major products observed on dissolution of switchgrass and pine, respectively, whereas syringol and allyl syringol were obtained by dissolution of eucalyptus. Furthermore, it was observed that different lignin-derived products could be generated by tuning the process conditions. CONCLUSIONS: We have developed an ionic liquid based process that depolymerizes lignin and converts the low molecular weight lignin fractions into a variety of renewable chemicals from biomass. The generated chemicals (phenols, guaiacols, syringols, eugenol, catechols), their oxidized products (vanillin, vanillic acid, syringaldehyde) and their easily derivatized hydrocarbons (benzene, toluene, xylene, styrene, biphenyls and cyclohexane) already have relatively high market value as commodity and specialty chemicals, green building materials, nylons, and resins.

Concepts: Gasoline, Petroleum, Benzene, Lignin, Phenols, Vanillin, Guaiacol, Eugenol


BACKGROUND: Bronchial asthma is one of the most prevalent diseases in Arab children. Environmental pollution has been suggested to be considered causative of asthma, nasal symptoms and bronchitis in both children and adult. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the association between serum polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) levels, asthma and allergic outcomes among Saudi children aged up to 15 yrs. We hypothesized that increased serum PAHs are associated with allergy, asthma, or respiratory symptoms. METHODS: A total of 195 Saudi children (98 asthma pediatric patients and 97 healthy controls) were randomly selected from the Riyadh Cohort Study for inclusion. The diagnosis of Asthma was based on established pediatric diagnosis and medications taken. RESULTS: Asthma related markers showed highly significant differences between children with and without asthma. Thus IgE, resistin and IL-4 were significantly increased (p 0.004, 0.001 and 0.003, respectively) in children with asthma compared with non-asthma control subjects. GMCSF, IFN-gamma, IL-5, IL-8 and IL-10, on the other hand, were significantly decreased in children with asthma (p 0.003, 0.03, 0.001, 0.004 and 0.03, respectively). Strong associations between serum PAHs levels and biomarkers of childhood asthma were detected in Arabic children. Data confirmed the role of naphthalene, 4H-cyclobenta[def]phenanthrene, 1,2-benzanthracene, chrysene and benzo(e)acephenanthrylene in childhood asthma; levels of these PAHs were correlated with asthma related biomarkers including IgE, resistin, GMCSF and IFN-gamma as well as IL-4, IL-5, IL-8 and IL-10 cytokines. CONCLUSIONS: This data highlight the pivotal role of specific PAHs in childhood asthma.

Concepts: Asthma, Allergy, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Hydrocarbon, Aromaticity, Naphthalene, Chrysene


The contaminant concentrations over which type strains of the species Dehalogenimonas alkenigignens and Dehalogenimonas lykanthroporepellens were able to reductively dechlorinate 1,2-dichloroethane (1,2-DCA), 1,2-dichloropropane (1,2-DCP), and 1,1,2-trichloroethane (1,1,2-TCA) were evaluated. Although initially isolated from an environment with much lower halogenated solvent concentrations, D. alkenigignens IP3-3T was found to reductively dehalogenate chlorinated alkanes at concentrations comparable to D. lykanthroporepellens BL-DC-9T. Both species dechlorinated 1,2-DCA, 1,2-DCP, and 1,1,2-TCA present at initial concentrations at least as high as 8.7, 4.0, and 3.5 mM, respectively. The ability of Dehalogenimonas spp. to carry out anaerobic reductive dechlorination even in the presence of high concentrations of chlorinated aliphatic alkanes has important implications for remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater.

Concepts: Ethanol, Water pollution, Benzene, Environmental remediation, Solution, Hexane, Environmental chemistry, Pentane


The dangers of lead exposure have been recognized for millennia. In the first century a.d., Dioscorides observed in his De Materia Medica that “lead makes the mind give way.” The first industrial hygiene act passed in the colonies, in 1723, prohibited the use of lead in the apparatus used to distill rum, because “the strong liquors and spirits that are distilld through leaden heads or pipes are judged on good grounds to be unwholsom and hurtful.” More recently, large amounts of lead were used to boost the octane rating of gasoline and improve the performance of paint. One would be . . .

Concepts: Gasoline, Ethanol, Benzene, Toluene, Octane, Century, Pedanius Dioscorides, Materia medica



Childhood leukemia may be associated with traffic-related environmental exposure to benzene, and additional data are needed. The Géolocalisation des Cancers Pédiatriques (GEOCAP) Study, a nationwide French case-control study, was designed to avoid selection bias due to differential participation and misclassification. The study compared the 2,760 childhood leukemia cases diagnosed in France between 2002 and 2007 (including 2,275 cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and 418 cases of acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML)) with 30,000 contemporaneous child population controls. The residence addresses were precisely geocoded, and 3 indicators of residential proximity to traffic were considered. Estimates of benzene concentrations were also available for the Île-de-France region (including Paris). A 300-m increase in major road length within 150 m of the geocoded address was significantly associated with AML (odds ratio = 1.2, 95% confidence interval: 1.0, 1.4) but not with ALL (odds ratio = 1.0, 95% confidence interval: 0.9, 1.1), and the association was reinforced in the Île-de-France region when this indicator was combined with benzene estimates. These results, which were free from any participation bias and based on objectively determined indices of exposure, showed an increased incidence of AML associated with heavy-traffic road density near a child’s home. The results support a role for traffic-related benzene exposure in the etiology of childhood AML.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Leukemia, Benzene, Acute myeloid leukemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Vincristine, Lymphoblast


Oil and gas development emits known hematological carcinogens, such as benzene, and increasingly occurs in residential areas. We explored whether residential proximity to oil and gas development was associated with risk for hematologic cancers using a registry-based case-control study design.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Oncology, Leukemia, Benzene, Case-control study, Study design, Carcinogen


We show that the different bond orders of individual carbon-carbon bonds in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and fullerenes can be distinguished by noncontact atomic force microscopy (AFM) with a carbon monoxide (CO)-functionalized tip. We found two different contrast mechanisms, which were corroborated by density functional theory calculations: The greater electron density in bonds of higher bond order led to a stronger Pauli repulsion, which enhanced the brightness of these bonds in high-resolution AFM images. The apparent bond length in the AFM images decreased with increasing bond order because of tilting of the CO molecule at the tip apex.

Concepts: Electron, Atom, Chemical bond, Carbon, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Quantum chemistry, Bond order


The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill resulted in 1.6-2.6 × 10(10) grams of petrocarbon accumulation on the seafloor. Data from a deep sediment trap, deployed 7.4 km SW of the well between August 2010 and October 2011, disclose that the sinking of spill-associated substances, mediated by marine particles, especially phytoplankton, continued at least 5 mo following the capping of the well. In August/September 2010, an exceptionally large diatom bloom sedimentation event coincided with elevated sinking rates of oil-derived hydrocarbons, black carbon, and two key components of drilling mud, barium and olefins. Barium remained in the water column for months and even entered pelagic food webs. Both saturated and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon source indicators corroborate a predominant contribution of crude oil to the sinking hydrocarbons. Cosedimentation with diatoms accumulated contaminants that were dispersed in the water column and transported them downward, where they were concentrated into the upper centimeters of the seafloor, potentially leading to sustained impact on benthic ecosystems.

Concepts: Petroleum, Carbon, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Hydrocarbon, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Phytoplankton, Diatom


The widespread distribution of unconventional oil and gas (UO&G) wells and other facilities in the United States potentially exposes millions of people to air and water pollutants, including known or suspected carcinogens. Childhood leukemia is a particular concern because of the disease severity, vulnerable population, and short disease latency. A comprehensive review of carcinogens and leukemogens associated with UO&G development is not available and could inform future exposure monitoring studies and human health assessments. The objective of this analysis was to assess the evidence of carcinogenicity of water contaminants and air pollutants related to UO&G development. We obtained a list of 1177 chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluids and wastewater from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and constructed a list of 143 UO&G-related air pollutants through a review of scientific papers published through 2015 using PubMed and ProQuest databases. We assessed carcinogenicity and evidence of increased risk for leukemia/lymphoma of these chemicals using International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) monographs. The majority of compounds (>80%) were not evaluated by IARC and therefore could not be reviewed. Of the 111 potential water contaminants and 29 potential air pollutants evaluated by IARC (119 unique compounds), 49 water and 20 air pollutants were known, probable, or possible human carcinogens (55 unique compounds). A total of 17 water and 11 air pollutants (20 unique compounds) had evidence of increased risk for leukemia/lymphoma, including benzene, 1,3-butadiene, cadmium, diesel exhaust, and several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Though information on the carcinogenicity of compounds associated with UO&G development was limited, our assessment identified 20 known or suspected carcinogens that could be measured in future studies to advance exposure and risk assessments of cancer-causing agents. Our findings support the need for investigation into the relationship between UO&G development and risk of cancer in general and childhood leukemia in particular.

Concepts: Cancer, Assessment, Leukemia, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Carcinogen, International Agency for Research on Cancer