Tag Archives: chemicals


Does Red Bull Give You Wings?


Image via http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/Energydrinks-collection.jpg

University students around the world are faced with plenty of long nights revising notes, completing homework, and cramming for exams. After a while, it may get tough to stay focused or even awake for that matter so many “study-aids” are consumed, including the ever popular energy drinks.

These concoctions are loaded with sugar and many of them contain caffeine and taurine as their main stimulants as well as a variety of vitamins. Most of these drinks are advertised as “dietary supplements” so they are not reviewed by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). There is a shroud of mystery surrounding energy drinks and many studies have been conducted to debunk this.

The companies that produce these energy drinks claim that these beverages will increase alert-fullness and performance, this may not entirely be true. Medical experts have warned that the feeling you get after consuming a can of your favourite energy drink may be almost exclusively from the rapid increase of sugar and caffeine in your system. This means that drinking a cup of coffee with sugar could produce a very similar effect.

YouTube Preview Image

A CBC story on the risks of energy drinks.

Another worry associated with these supplements is the dangers of constant drinking. Many different energy drinks, even Red Bull (the most popular energy drink worldwide) have been banned in different countries. Despite, this energy beverages are generally safe in decent doses. If you drink them in moderation you should be fine, but if you start to rely on energy drinks to get you through the day, every single day it will carry many of the symptoms associated with excessive coffee drinking. Dehydration is a common side effect.

Diagram showing possible effects via

If you were a child or pregnant is is recommended that you steer clear of these beverages as they are recommended for adults and can exacerbate existing heart or kidney conditions. In the end, drinking energy drinks is safe practice if you follow the suggested guidelines (Usually 1 to 2 cans per day). If a cup of coffee is working fine for you already there really isn’t a need to switch to these more expensive beverages however.

Zohaib Mahmood

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Recently, I came across this acronym, BPA, and thought to myself, “what is BPA?” To my surprise, it turned out to be an industrial chemical I was being exposed to everyday and I didn’t even know! Similar to myself, there are many people in our society who are unaware of the use and exposure of this chemical. Therefore, the purpose of my blog is to familiarize students of Science 300 and our society with what BPA is, its use in industry, and the possible health risks it poses to human health.

Bisphenol A (BPA), is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate and epoxy resins which are used in many consumer products.

Chemical Representation of BPA (from http://neuroamer.wordpress.com/page/4/)

Polycarbonate is used in a variety of products because of its unique attributes. It is a light weight, high performance plastic used by industries to make consumer products such as infant bottles.

Epoxy resins are also used in a variety of consumer products, such as paints,  because they maintain the quality of the canned product. Many canned foods and beverages have epoxy resins used as liners to maintain food quality.

Canned foods contain BPA which leaches out into the product. (from http://inhabitat.com/the-dirty-dozen-guide-reveals-12-hormone-disruptors-other-than-bpa/)

Over the years, BPA has been one of the most extensively researched chemicals.  Safety assessments have concluded that the exposure level to humans “is more than 400 times lower than the safe level of BPA set by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.” Then why is BPA still a topic of debate?

Many people are still worried about BPA exposure because this chemical mimics the hormone estrogen. It is also widely known to be an endocrine disruptor. Research studies have indicated that the tiniest exposures to the chemical can increase risks for cancer and disrupt the hormone system. Other studies have shown high levels of BPA in urine samples of six year old children.

The question which arises now is, “what has the government done to prevent BPA exposure?” According to an article published in New York Times, Canada has banned the use of BPA for infant bottles. Additionally, many industries are making BPA-free products available to people. Nevertheless, the controversy which still remains is whether or not these substituted chemicals are safe?

The video below further discusses this issue:

YouTube Preview Image

In conclusion, there is a lot of debate over the topic of BPA exposure to humans as well as its health consequences. Daily news reports are being published on this issue which keep us updated on what the government is doing in regards to using this chemical in the industry. Furthermore, researchers all over the globe are continuously experimenting with BPA on rodents to provide concrete evidence about the health risks it may cause. As for now, to avoid BPA exposure, consumers should avoid using plastic containers which have recycle codes 3 or 7 on them as they may contain BPA as well as not use plastic bottles for hot liquids.