People often worry about the safety of chemicals added to their food. But sometimes, nature itself can produce harmful compounds in the foods we eat. In the latest edition of Periodic Graphics in Chemical & Engineering News, we look at a selection of toxins found in common fruits and vegetables. View the full graphic on […]
The vibrant colours of poisonous frogs warn of the extremely toxic compounds contained in their skin. The amount of poison in one frog alone is estimated to be enough to kill 20,000 mice – but what are these compounds, where do they come from, and what makes the frogs immune to their effects? This graphic […]
The Chemistry of Cherries
It’s cherry season in the UK, and the cherry trees are currently heaving under the weight of both sweet and sour cherries. Here we take a look at the chemical differences between the two, and why cherry stones are poisonous.
Spiders are the most numerous venomous animals on the planet; the number of species predicted to be in existence, 150,000, is thought to be greater than the numbers of all other venomous creatures combined. Almost all spiders, with only a few exceptions, produce venom, which serves the primary purpose of immobilising their prey. However, the content […]
The second in the series on poisons looks at cyanide, another notorious agent of murder. It’s played a role in genocide, in suicide pills, and is also found in small amounts in the seeds of numerous fruits. So, why is cyanide so poisonous, and why are deaths from cyanide poisoning less of a rarity than those from arsenic […]
With Valentine’s Day looming, it seemed an appropriate time to look into the chemistry of chocolate for the latest food chemistry graphic. In particular, here we focus on the two frequently referenced effects of consuming chocolate: its supposed aphrodisiac effect, and its harmful effects on dogs (and to a lesser extent, cats). The graphic gives a […]