Sunday, December 6, 2009

Koln.Kolhn.Cologne And a new chemical

This Saturday four of us (2 English girls, 1 Lebonese guy, and me) took an early morning train to Cologne, Germany. We arrived sleepy, a couple still a little tipsy from the night before, at Amsterdam Central Station and hopped on a 744am international train for some christmas market shopping.

At one point along the path, someone brought out some anti-bacterial hand wash. You know my position on this and of course when I was offered some for myself, I couldn't resist spewing a little info that I had learned for the book Good Germs, Bad Germs and all my work on the green cleaning campaign from my former job. Back in May I wrote a post about the Swine Flu hysteria and a little about how much I love this book. It's rather a long post, but about half way through I go into it all. Here is another post about the book.

I still love this poem by W.H. Auden that was reprinted:

A Very Happy New Year
to all for whom my ectoderm
is as Middle-Earth to me.

For creatures your size I offer
a free choice of habitat,
so settle yourselves in the zone
that suits you best, in the pools
of my pores or the tropical forests
of arm-pit and crotch,
in the deserts of my fore-arms,
or the cool woods of my scalp

Build colonies: I will supply
adequate warmth and moisture,
on condition you never
do me annoy with your presence,
but behave as good guests should,
not rioting into acne
or athlete's foot or a boil

We arrived in Cologne ready to visit some Christmas markets. We even took the christmas train around to four different markets! Ate the biggest leg of pork on the planet. Not all by myself . . . I shared. Drank some amazing Gluewein. Love me some mulled wine. And lit a candle at the Cathedral of Cologne for my cousins. I even did a little sign of cross with holy water when I walked in this amazing building. The cathedral is very similar to one in Vienna. It was hard to speak when I was outside looking up at the two towers. Just incredible. Of course my camera battery died on the train.

As I researching interesting things about Cologne, I came across some press releases about the closure of a Solutia rubber plant that makes tetramethylthiuramdisulfide (TMTD). Oh yeah. . . I haven't thrown out a 27 letter word in a while!

Tetramethylthiuramdisulfide (TMTD)is normally used as a fungicide, but is also used as a preservative in rubber products, such as gloves, mattresses, and condoms. Solutia is closing its Cologne plant because of tetramethylthiuramdisulfide (TMTD) is no longer economically viable for them to produce. It seems there are lower cost alternatives available. Haven't looked at that yet, though.

But let's talk tetramethylthiuramdisulfide (TMTD). It's chemical class is Dithiocarbamate and it is moderately to highly toxic to aquatic life. Health impacts include reproductive and developmental toxicity as well as being a neurotoxin. As a fungicide it is most often used on strawberries, peaches, and apples. It is highly toxic to both cold and warm water fish. I'm reading this Chemical Watch fact sheet on it and it's just two pages of toxicity to almost every organ, thyroid, overies, gastrointestinal tract . . .

Off to Bruges, Belgium this weekend and trying to get one more short trip in before I head back to the states for a couple weeks. Maybe Paris, though I'd prefer to go when it's snowing. Though if I want snow, I could stop by Houston, TX on my way to Vegas, I guess.

Renee Claire

P.S. oppps . . this was suppose to be a Sunday Gumbo. Next time.

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