In the papers...

Chewing gum malnutrition 

Too much sugar-free chewing gum can lead to diarrhoea, malnutrition and weight loss - as two patients who chewed up to 20 sticks a day found to their cost. Doctors established that their illness was caused by sorbitol, an artificial sweetener used in the gum and known to have a laxative effect. 
The Telegraph, 11 January 2008 


Bad directions 

Planes taking off and landing at London City Airport are having their navigation instruments affected by iron and steel built into supports under the runway. The metal causes significant localised magnetic anomalies that can confuse the on-board compass, causing one pilot to have to return to the airport soon after takeoff. 
Reuters, 14 January 2008 


Nanoparticles not organic 

The Soil Association has announced it will not certify products as organic if they contain nanoparticles. The decision is most likely impact the rapidly growing market for organic sunscreen and cosmetics, to which several companies, including Boots, L'Oréal and Unilever, already add nanoparticulate ingredients. 
Financial Times, 15 January 2008 


In the bag 

China's State Council has banned the country's shops from providing free plastic bags. The ruling, which comes into force on 1 June, is an attempt to reduce the environmental damage caused by discarded bags. Currently, more than three billion bags are handed out in the country each day.  
The Times, 10 January 2008 


Nuclear-powered pacemaker 

A pacemaker powered by plutonium rather than batteries, implanted into a 20 year old woman in 1973, is still going strong, says the surgeon who originally implanted it. The device contains enough plutonium that it never needs replacing, unlike like battery-powered equivalents. But doctors now prefer battery power, as they like to replace the device every 10-15 years anyway, as pacemaker technology improves. 
Reuters, 19 December 2007