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Saffron from Spain is one of the world's most superior varieties, but the majority of this product which is labelled and exported as such originates in other countries. Scientists from the Czech Republic and Spain confirmed this false labelling after analysing 44 commercial products. By using a new technique based on each type of saffron's unique chemical 'fingerprint', the scientists have proved that over 50% of the samples were fraudulent.
The explosion of a lorry tanker carrying propylene in the Los Alfaques campsite (Tarragona) in 1978 left more than 200 dead. A decade later, 20,000 people were evacuated when a cargo ship loaded with toxic products ran aground on Finisterre’s coastline (A Coruña). In 2003, a deflagration in a Puertollano (Ciudad Real) refinery caused nine deaths and many injuries. These are some of the accidents that have determined the improvements in the safety of transport and the chemical industry’s processes in Spain, according to a study by Catalan researchers.
In addition to storing films, optical discs can be used to detect microorganisms, toxins, allergens and tumoral biomarkers. Blu-ray technology has allowed researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia to develop a way to find out if a sample contains Salmonella or toxic substances. This simple and cheap analytical system may be applied to clinical diagnosis and environmental monitoring.
Researchers from the Basque centre CIC biomaGUNE and the University of Antwerp (Belgium) have designed nanoparticles with one half formed of gold branches and the other of silicon oxide. They are a kind of Janus particle, so-called in honour of the Roman god with two faces, which could be used in phototherapy in the future to treat tumours.
Gold and silica nanostars / Liz-Marzán et al.
Researchers from the University of Burgos have developed a smart material which changes colour based on the amount of iron in a fluid, whether it be water, wine or blood serum. Afterwards, if the result is photographed with a digital camera such as those on mobile phones, the concentration of this metal can be quantified without the need for chemical analysis.
Partículas de lantano-cerio, la huella dactilar de los mecheros. / IDAEA
Researchers from the IDAEA (CSIC) centre measured the concentration of harmful compounds in a café in Barcelona before and after the anti-smoking law. The results show that toxic and carcinogenic substances dropped 90%, a finding that corroborates that of the Ministry of Health’s latest report.
Cenizas, compuestos y elementos del humo del tabaco. / IDAEA
The recipe and process for preparing Maya Blue, a highly-resistant pigment used for centuries in Mesoamerica, were lost. We know that the ingredients are a plant dye, indigo, and a type of clay known as palygorskite, but scientists do not know how they were ‘cooked’ and combined together. Now, a team of chemists from the University of Valencia and the Polythecnic University of Valencia (Spain) have come up with a new hypothesis about how it was prepared.
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