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Green Stain-Resistance

September 26, 2005

The race is on to find environmentally friendly alternatives to commonly used chemicals. Science Reporter Bob Hirshon tells us about one of the newest advances.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
A greener way to block stains. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Stain-resistant coatings on clothes and paper products are made from chemicals that can break down into C-8, a pollutant that’s found in the blood of nearly all Americans. Studies have linked it to developmental problems and cancer in lab animals.

Now chemist Joe DeSimone of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his colleagues have found a more environmentally friendly way to keep clothes from getting stained. Instead of the eight carbons in C-8, their new coating is based on a shorter chain of only four carbons, which doesn’t accumulate in people’s bodies.

JOE DESIMONE (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill):
Others have shown that C4-based chemicals do not biopersist. We then took that idea and then we were able to convert that to a really good textile treatment chemical.

HIRSHON:
DeSimone says the new coating works just as well as the old one. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.